B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and internationally renowned climate activist Greta Thunberg will receive honorary degrees from UBC this spring.
Dr. Henry will receive her honorary degree from UBC Vancouver, while Thunberg will receive her honorary degree from UBC Okanagan. They are among 18 remarkable individuals receiving honorary degrees from UBC.
“I am delighted to bestow honorary degrees on Dr. Henry and Ms. Thunberg, along with all of our remarkable recipients this spring,” says UBC President and Vice-Chancellor Santa J. Ono. “Dr. Henry and Ms. Thunberg have served as leading voices in the midst of two of the most significant crises we collectively have ever faced: the global pandemic and climate change. They are truly an inspiration to us all at UBC.”
“Our honorary degree recipients are a remarkable group of people that are making a difference in their communities both globally and locally,” says Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal of UBC Okanagan Lesley Cormack. “It is an honour to have Dr. Henry and Ms. Thunberg, together with all 18 recipients this year, join the UBC community. As a university that is committed to bold thinking and social and technological innovation, their contributions to the most urgent issues of our day—including public health and climate change—are critical in our journey towards a better, safer and more sustainable future.”
In recognition of substantial contributions to society UBC confers honorary degrees—the highest honours conferred by the university—to deserving individuals who have made substantial contributions to society. Honorary degrees are conferred honoris causa, meaning “for the sake of honour,” and are awarded as one of three types: Doctor of Laws, Doctor of Letters, and Doctor of Science. Dr. Henry is receiving a Doctor of Science, while Thunberg is receiving a Doctor of Laws.
Dr. Henry is B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer and a former physician epidemiologist for the B.C. Centre for Disease Control. The calm, assured face of the COVID-19 pandemic response in B.C., she has led the government initiative from a rational, scientific perspective, garnering accolades from across Canada and internationally. Her specialized work in public health and preventive medicine also includes critical international initiatives such as the WHO/UNICEF polio eradication program in Pakistan and the World Health Organization’s response to the Ebola outbreak in Uganda.
Thunberg, 18, has gained international recognition for challenging world leaders to take immediate, science-based action against climate change, and for sparking climate-change activism in many parts of the world. A three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee, she has given speeches at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland; at the European Parliament; in front of the legislatures of Italy, France, the United Kingdom and the United States; at the 2019 UN Youth Climate Summit in New York, to which she famously traveled on an emissions‐free yacht; and the 2019 UN Climate Change Conference in Madrid.