Elizabeth Kapu’uwailani Lindsey received the Union Institute & University Distinguished Alumni Award at the national commencement ceremony on October 13, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Dr. Lindsey received her Ph.D. with a concentration in Cultural Anthropology from Union Institute & University in 1999, and was nominated for Union’s Institute prestigious Circle of Scholars Award.
A native of Hawaii, mentored by Hawaiian elders, Dr. Lindsey is a National Geographic Fellow, actress, and director, known for her award-winning documentary “Then There Were None” (1996), a film that chronicles the untold plight of native Hawaiians. It has received numerous international awards, including the prestigious CINE Eagle Award.
Steven Swerdfeger, Ph.D., C.H., vice president of Union’s IAAB as well as chair of the Awards Committee said the following on Dr. Lindsey’s selection:
“The Awards Committee was most impressed with Dr. Lindsey’s extensive work as a Fellow of the National Geographic Society, and her untiring efforts to preserve and share the knowledge and tradition of indigenous populations before they disappear. Her work as a cultural anthropologist has won worldwide acclaim and she has steadfastly advocated the preservation of ancient wisdom. She was a recipient of the United Nations Visionary Award in 2010 and her documentaries and speaking engagements have reached a world-wide audience of millions.”
Dr. Lindsey is the first Polynesian explorer and female Fellow in the history of the National Geographic Society. A cultural anthropologist, Lindsey travels to the world’s most remote regions documenting indigenous mastery and science. Lindsey’s disruptive teaching of “Moment of Mastery” is based on first-hand experience and is reshaping Western perspectives on global leadership and cultural evolution. Her international lectures at the world’s leading academic institutions and technology companies are an inspiring call-to-action. From the unwavering courage of navigator-priests who sail thousands of miles without the use of maps or instruments to the stunning accuracy of sea nomads who averted danger during the 2004 tsunami, such demonstrations of mastery and wisdom provide invaluable lessons for 21st century leaders.
Dr. Lindsey is an adviser to global organizations and serves on several boards, including the Tibet Fund for His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. She also provides strategic planning support to United Nations ambassadors who work on behalf of environmental refugees faced with the punishing realities of climate crisis. She has created scholarships in Asia, India and Hawaii, and is the recipient of the United Nations Visionary Award (2010). She has presented at Oxford University, American Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institute, Harvard University and given a number of TED talks.
As a Fellow of the National Geographic Society, Dr. Lindsey’s mission is to keep ancestral voices alive by recording indigenous wisdom and traditions. She seeks to find, preserve, and share the knowledge and tradition of indigenous populations before they disappear. She is working with Google to create a geospatial Map of the Human Story, using the indigenous science of way finding to chart tales at risk of being lost. As she has stated, “True navigation begins in the human heart.”
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