Patz discusses environmental health with Dalai Lama, Prime Minister of Bhutan

October 17, 2011

For professor Jonathan Patz, who directs the UW-Madison Global Health Institute and holds an appointment in the Nelson Institute, conversations around environmental ethics are an everyday occurrence. It's not every day, however, that he can discuss these issues with the Dalai Lama.

Jonathan Patz with Dalai Lama
Patz and the Dalai Lama discuss the inter-
dependence between environment and health.
Photo by Betty Jones, Mind and Life Institute.

This week, Patz has the special opportunity to co-chair a five-day conference with Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso titled "Ecology, Ethics and Interdependence."

The event, hosted at the Tibetan leader's home in Dharamsala, India, focuses on the interconnection between individual choices and environmental consequences and is part of a conference series sponsored by Gyatso's Mind and Life Institute. The dialogue will be broadcast live through Oct. 21 and available for streaming and download after the event.

The meeting is timely because of efforts among scholars and political leaders to link world environmental issues such as climate change with ethical behavior, Patz told the Wisconsin State Journal.

Patz traveled to India with Richard Davidson, Vilas Professor of psychology and psychiatry and founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, who is a member of the Mind and Life Institute's Board of Directors.

Jonathan Patz with Bhutan Prime Minister
Bhutan Prime Minister Jigme Thinley (left of Patz)
introduces Patz to members of Bhutan's cabinet.
Photo by Matthieu Ricard.

En route to the conference, Patz and Davidson visited Bhutan to discuss with the state's leaders the Bhutanese Gross National Happiness index, which combines personal emotional measures of happiness with indicators of the sustainability of natural environmental and cultural resources.

Patz and Davidson met with Prime Minister Jigme Thinley and visited the home of Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba, Bhutan's Minister of Works and Human Settlement. Zimba will be a featured speaker at the Nelson Institute Earth Day conference next April 16 in Madison.

Below, see video of Patz's Oct. 17 session, "Interdependence Between the Environment and Our Health: Risk and Opportunities."