College of the Atlantic is pleased to announce that Dr. Paul Farmer will be the commencement speaker for the college’s ceremony on June 8 at 2 p.m. He will be addressing an expected 80 graduates, along with their family and friends, and the larger COA community. All graduates will receive degrees in human ecology. COA offers a non-departmental approach to education focusing on the relationship between humans and their social and natural environments.
“Dr. Farmer is a remarkable human being and a personal hero,” says COA President Darron Collins, PhD, a 1992 graduate of the college. “The entire COA community has been rumbling with excitement since we heard. Paul’s work in social medicine embodies a human ecological approach to human health and his presence on campus will have a profound impact on our students—so many of whom are powerfully idealistic and leaving COA to truly make a difference in the world.”
A physician, professor, and author, Dr. Paul Farmer is the chief strategist and co-founder of Partners In Health, an international non-profit organization providing direct health care services, research, and advocacy activities on behalf of those who are sick and living in poverty. He is also the Kolokotrones University Professor and chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School; chief of the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston; and the United Nations Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Community Based Medicine and Lessons from Haiti.
Dr. Farmer has written extensively about health, human rights, and the role of social inequalities in the distribution and outcome of disease. His most recent book is Haiti after the Earthquake; a collection of speeches, To Repair the World: Paul Farmer Speaks to the Next Generation, will be released later this spring. He is also the subject of Tracy Kidder’s book, Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World. Dr. Farmer is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Carter Award for Humanitarian Contributions to the Health of Humankind from the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, and a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Award. He received his MD at Harvard Medical School and simultaneously completed his PhD in anthropology from Harvard University. Dr. Farmer graduated from Duke University with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology.
COA’s graduation is a unique experience, incorporating several student speakers and few caps and gowns, since most students prefer more personal wear. Just after students receive their diplomas from President Collins, they are given a flower from a classmate—symbolizing the value the college places on insights derived from both nature and one’s fellow students. As always, commencement will be a sustainable event: with prominent recycling bins, plenty of local and organic food, and no use of bottled water.
College of the Atlantic was founded in 1969 on the premise that education should go beyond understanding the world as it is, to enabling students to actively shape its future. A leader in experiential education and environmental stewardship, COA has pioneered a distinctive interdisciplinary approach to learning—human ecology—that develops the kinds of creative thinkers and doers needed by all sectors of society in addressing the compelling and growing needs of our world. For more, visit www.coa.edu.