The Marshall Lecture Series at Stephens College has announced an upcoming public lecture, “Bhutan: Development with Values,” to be held on Oct. 23 at 7 p.m.

The presentation will illustrate how the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has taken a unique approach to becoming a modern constitutional democracy by focusing on Gross National Happiness and people-centered policies rather than Western ideals that emphasize economics.  

Speakers will include representatives from the Bhutan Foundation, including Dr. Bruce W. Bunting, president, and Ms. Tshering Yangzom, director of programs and external relations. Ms. Donna Ensign Marshall, a Stephens alumna and former member of the Stephens College Board of Trustees, will lead the question-and-answer session that follows.

“It is particularly impressive that our values of consumerism and individuality have led us to measure and define our country in terms of Gross National Product — while Bhutan, in contrast, works with its principles of improvement of the lives of all its people, protection of the environment and preservation of the culture to achieve Gross National Happiness,” Ms. Marshall said. “What Bhutan is like, why and how it has come into the modern world, how it has developed, its philosophy and its expectations of the future are impressions I’d like to share through The Marshall Lecture Series.”

The Marshall Lecture Series, funded by a gift by Marshall, is focused on stimulating interest in international affairs: the social, economic, and cultural activities of our world.

The lecture is free and open to the public and will be held in the Kimball Ballroom of Lela Raney Wood Hall on the Stephens College campus, 6 N. College Ave. Guest parking is adjacent and questions about the event can be directed to [email protected].


Q&A with Ms. Donna Ensign Marshall, Sponsor of The Marshall Lecture Series

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(Left) Donna Marshall hiking in Bhutan, beneath traditional prayer flags. (Right) Ms. Marshall with a traditional Bhutanese prayer wheel. 


Why did you decide to start The Marshall Lecture Series? 

In 2011, I decided to create The Marshall Lecture Series for Stephens with a view to inviting internationally connected people to bring their knowledge and ideas to the College. The goal was to stimulate interest in international affairs: the social, economic and cultural activities of our world. 

A primary interest in my life has been international affairs and international travel. I believe that we, as citizens of the world, need to be well-informed about it — although we often stay in our own small one. Students are now understandably more anxious about a career than electing to study political science and other liberal subjects.


How did you become involved in the Bhutan Foundation?

I visited Bhutan several years ago and was deeply impressed. I became involved partially through two experiences there and from that involvement I was honored to be invited to serve as a member of the Board of the Bhutan Foundation. Because Bhutan is so special, fascinating and inspiring in myriad ways, I wanted to make it known especially to Stephens students as well as those in the Columbia community and at MU who might also find it of interest.


What do you hope Stephens students will learn from the presentation?

What Bhutan is about, why and how it has come into the modern world, how it has developed and its expectations of the future are impressions I’d like to share. 

It is particularly impressive, given our values of consumerism and individuality which have led us to measure our country by Gross National Product — that Bhutan, in contrast, works to improve the lives of all of its people, protect the environment and preserve the culture as principles for achieving Gross National Happiness.

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