UA’s Spears Named 2016 Recipient of Buford Peace Award

  • April 20th, 2016
Dr. Ellen Griffith Spears
Dr. Ellen Griffith Spears

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Dr. Ellen Griffith Spears, associate professor in New College and the department of American studies at The University of Alabama, is the 2016 winner of the Buford Peace Award.

Established in 2002 by UA School of Social Work alumnus Tony D. Walker to honor Lahoma Adams Buford, the award is given annually to a faculty member at UA who, in his or her teaching, research, professional practice and personal life, has demonstrated exceptional levels of involvement in mediating human disputes, helping overcome prejudice, promoting justice and establishing peace.

The Buford Peace Award ceremony will be held Monday, April 25 at 5:30 p.m. at the Cypress Inn Pavilion in Tuscaloosa. For more information about the ceremony, contact Liz Dykes at

“The Buford Peace Award is especially meaningful to me as the award recognizes the value of connecting research and teaching with community work for justice and peace,” Spears said. “Having institutional support for bridging between higher education and community work for justice is so valuable.

“I am especially honored to be counted among the dedicated and accomplished colleagues who have received the Buford Peace Award, strong role models all.”

Spears’ research is broadly interdisciplinary, combining environmental and civil rights history with studies of science, technology and public health. Spears has spoken on the social costs of pollution around the U.S. and internationally and has authored numerous essays.

Her book, “Baptized in PCBs: Race, Pollution, and Justice in an All-American Town,” published in 2014 by the University of North Carolina Press, explores key questions faced by communities that seek to address systemic class and race inequalities and to tackle toxic pollution.

The book received the 2015 Francis B. Simkins Prize from the Southern Historical Association, the 2014 Arthur J. Viseltear Award for Outstanding Contribution to the History of Public Health from the Medical Care Section of the American Public Health Association, and the 2015 Reed Environmental Writing Award, from the Southern Environmental Law Center.

UA’s New College and the department of American studies are part of the College of Arts and Sciences, the University’s largest division and the largest liberal arts college in the state. Students from the College have won numerous national awards including Rhodes Scholarships and Goldwater Scholarships.


Vickie Whitfield, administrative specialist, School of Social Work, 205/348-3942,


David Miller, UA media relations, 205/348-0825,

The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.