In 1986, the Library of Congress requested Lester Brown’s personal papers noting that his writings “have already strongly affected thinking about problems of world population and resources.”
Brown started his career as a farmer, growing tomatoes, and shortly after earning a degree in agricultural science from Rutgers University in 1955, he spent six months living in rural India where he became intimately familiar with the food/population issue. In 1959 Brown joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service as an international agricultural analyst Brown earned a masters degree in agricultural economics from the University of Maryland and in public administration from Harvard. In 1964, he became an adviser to Secretary of Agriculture Orville Freeman on foreign agricultural policy. In early 1969, he left government to help establish the Overseas Development Council.
In 1974, with support of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Lester Brown founded the World watch Institute, the first research institute devoted to the analysis of global environmental issues. In May 2001, he founded the Earth Policy Institute to provide a vision and a road map for achieving an environmentally sustainable economy.
He is the recipient of many prizes and awards, including 23 honorary degrees, a MacArthur Fellowship, the 1987 United Nations’ Environment Prize, the 1989 World Wide Fund for Nature Gold Medal, and the 1994 Blue Planet Prize for his “exceptional contributions to solving global environmental problems.” More recently, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Italy, the Borgström Prize by the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry, and appointed an honorary professor of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.