Duke to honor Robert Redford for environmental work

Posted February 26, 2009 9:36 a.m. EST

 Duke University

— Duke University will honor actor, director and environmentalist Robert Redford with the inaugural Duke LEAF Award for lifetime environmental achievement in the fine arts.

The award will be presented to Redford April 18 at Duke University's Page Auditorium during the university's Alumni Reunion Weekend.

Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment established the annual award this year to honor artists whose work inspires environmental awareness and stewardship in others, according to the school.

An executive committee selected Redford “for his unique and central role as an artist, his moving portrayal of the natural world as an integral character in his films and his strong and effective environmental advocacy.”

“Robert Redford’s body of work as an actor, director, producer and founder of the Sundance Institute and Redford Center at the Sundance Preserve highlights the critical but often under-appreciated role artists can play in inspiring people to take action for the environment,” said William Chameides, dean of the Nicholas School.

While at Duke, Redford will meet with students and faculty members and tour environmental research facilities at the Nicholas School.

Redford has been a voice on behalf of the environment since the early 1970s. He has used his artistic talent and resources to produce documentary films on topics such as solar power and coal-fired power plants and has directed environmental films such as “The Milagro Beanfield War” and “A River Runs Through It.”

He has lobbied Congress on behalf of the environment and the arts, advocating for renewable energy, the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, the preservation of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other wilderness lands and against global warming.

In 1981, Redford founded the Sundance Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the discovery and development of independent artists and audiences.

In addition to the Sundance Film Festival, Redford’s organization in Utah includes the Redford Center, where artists, scientists, policymakers and leaders from all sectors of society work together to explore practical solutions to climate change and other issues.

His Sundance Channel airs a block of environmentally themed programming known as “The Green” to cable TV subscribers nationwide.

In 2007, Time magazine named him a “Hero of the Environment” in recognition of his achievements. Two years earlier, he was honored by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for his contribution to American culture.