On September 9th, 2013, George W. Bush is scheduled to receive the “Improving the Human Condition Award” at the annual Korbel Dinner. The Josef Korbel School of International Studies strives to train “pragmatic idealists” to envision and innovate solutions to international issues ranging from peace and security to poverty alleviation to challenging the social norms and structures that perpetuate the oppression of marginalized and vulnerable populations.
We do not believe that George W. Bush reflects the values, character, and leadership of an appropriate “Improving the Human Condition” awardee. Moreover, we do not feel that he represents the values promoted by the Josef Korbel School of International Studies and the University of Denver or embodied by its students, faculty, and alumni.
We fail to see how this choice does justice to the talents, aspirations, and values of the students, faculty, and alumni of the Josef Korbel School and the University of Denver. As President, George W. Bush’s choices resulted in greater instability and economic hardship worldwide, while even his laudable achievements, like the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) were sullied by the promotion of an agenda that hampered prevention and treatment efforts. This is evidenced in the recent Supreme Court decision that ruled certain requirements of the PEPFAR program unconstitutional.
Former President George W. Bush left behind a legacy of human rights abuses, including the torture of detainees in extra-territorial jails, preemptive war, domestic surveillance programs, and other egregious actions that deleteriously impact the human condition.
As students, alumni, and faculty of the Josef Korbel School and the University of Denver, we urge Dean Hill and the administration to choose an alternative recipient of the “Improving the Human Condition Award” who better represents a humanitarian spirit, a commitment to human rights and human dignity, and whose contributions and leadership have truly resulted in positive change.