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2009 Japan Prize Awarded to Former UNH Professor

By Erika Mantz, Media Relations
January 21, 2009

Dennis Meadows, professor emeritus of systems policy at UNH, is one of two American scientists to be awarded the 2009 Japan Prize by the Science and Technology Foundation of Japan, one of the world's most prestigious awards in science and technology. Meadows is currently president of the Laboratory for Interactive Learning.

Meadows, 66, was recognized for "his contribution towards a sustainable world founded in the 1972 report titled 'The Limits to Growth.'" Also honored was David Kuhl, professor of radiology at the University of Michigan Medical School, for "his contribution to tomographic imaging in nuclear medicine."

In accepting the Japan Prize last week, Meadows said, "Winning the Japan Prize is an enormous honor and an obligation. Fortunately the prize is coming early enough in my life that I still have some decades left and I'm going to redouble my efforts to make sure that I deserve it. Looking back at the laureates over the last quarter century, we see people who have laid the foundations for our current society and for industry who've made enormous contributions to healthcare and other aspects of quality of life. So I hope that 25 years from now I will be able to look back on another quarter century where the laureates have come more from fields which are laying the foundation for sustainable life on this planet, helping us to create a medical system, an industrial system, a governmental system that lets us all live peacefully and with liberty on this planet."

Meadows was director of the Institute for Policy and Social Research at UNH from 1988 to 2004. In 2007, he was selected for a Medal of Honor by the Hungarian president, and he received the annual peace award of UNESCO in Berlin, Germany.

"This is a tremendous honor for Dennis and for the university," said President Mark Huddleston. "His work on the system dynamics of important resource and environmental issues has won him many honors and is yet another example of how the University of New Hampshire is and has been at the forefront of sustainability efforts, most of it years before it was the thing to do."

Meadows and Kuhl will each receive a certificate of recognition, a commemorative medal and a cash award of 50 million Japanese yen (approx. US$550,000) at an award ceremony to be held in Tokyo April 23, 2009.

Meadows led a team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology experts in conducting research commissioned by the Club of Rome as part of its project on the predicament of mankind. Using a system simulation model called "World 3," the 1972 report analyzed what will happen to the earth and mankind when experiencing continuing geometric growth after World War II. The report demonstrated the limits brought by the depletion of global resources and environmental pollution, highlighting the conflict between the earth's physical capacity and development of mankind.

The report awakened and inspired world efforts towards a sustainable society. He continued to study the causes and consequences of physical growth on a finite planet and co-authored "Beyond the Limits" (1992) and "Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update" (2004) with his wife, the late Donella Meadows, and J. Randers. Employing an improved simulation model, the books pointed out that the limited features of the earth's physical capacity have continued to deteriorate and that the time left for solving the problem was growing short. Through model analyses, Meadows has consistently called for efforts by the international community to form a sustainable society. His work continues to exert a great influence on the world.

For more information about the Science and Technology Foundation of Japan and its activities visit http://www.japanprize.jp/en


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