November 19, 2020

WCU Honors College student John McSweeney announces student committee nominee for 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.WCU Honors College Students Submit 2021 Nobel Peace Prize Candidate in 
One-of-a-Kind Relationship with Norwegian Nobel Committee

WCU’s Honors College has been pursuing a “nobel” idea for the past four years and is the only university in the U.S. to have a relationship with the Nobel Peace Institute. As part of this one-of-a-kind partnership, honor students from WCU have been permitted to nominate candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize to the Norwegian Nobel Committee to consider. On Wednesday, November 18, the WCU Nobel Leadership Series (NLS) held its closing ceremonies where the student committee announced WCU’s candidate to submit for consideration for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize. 2020 Swope Scholar and Honors College Nobel Events Coordinator John McSweeney, a WCU junior who is majoring in economics and finance, represented the student committee and announced the World Health Organization as the candidate being put forward by the students. 

During the closing ceremonies, 51 student participantsDr. Kevin Dean (top, middle) is joined by some of his 51 WCU Honors College students as they announce their nominee for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize. were recognized with a certificate and presented with a Nobel lapel pin, as well as a flag of Norway. Vice Chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee Dr. Henrik Syse will meet virtually with all student presenters and those completing the leadership series on Saturday, November 21, 1 - 2 p.m.

“I cannot think of a more appropriate time in our history for our Honors College students to come together and study leaders who advocate peace,” said Chairperson and Director of the Honors College Kevin Dean, professor of communication studies.  Thanks to the very kind and generous financial support from the University’s Division of Student Affairs and two recent WCU Honors College alumni, two special commemorative pins were presented to the students. The Honors College is deeply grateful to the Division of Student Affairs and Hannah Laboski, a 2019 graduate of the Honors College and an associate admissions officer at WCU, and Matthew Leinhauser, a 2019 graduate of the Honors College and a doctoral candidate at the University of Delaware, for their continued commitment to our students and this critical program.”

The Honors College’s one-of-a-kind relationship with the Nobel Peace Institute includes collaborating on programs that help enrich students’ leadership skills as exemplified by Nobel Peace laureates. During the fall semester, the participating students spent approximately 90 minutes each Wednesday evening learning about leadership lessons from select Nobel Peace laureates.  Workshops were generated by eight sophomore/junior Nobel scholars mentored by the five students who represented WCU at the 2019 Nobel Peace Week in December in Oslo Norway. 

HONORS 353: Norway’s Nobel Idea for Promoting Peace and Developing Leaders is a course designed to explore Nobel laureates and ways of better understanding leadership. The series involves students from various majors and disciplines. It concludes with having students submit names of individuals who deserve to be awarded the peace prize. The students in HON 353 then deliberate about the top three candidates, mimic the Nobel Peace Committee selection process, and unanimously propose a name. One year, the candidate WCU Honors chose to submit was Umra Omar of Kenya. Honors students are aware that they can recommend a name for consideration for the Nobel Peace Prize.


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