The Johanna M. Boving Lectureship has been established in honour of the late Mrs. Johanna Boving by her son Alfons Boving, who is a faculty member of the Department of Economics, and her husband Franz Boving.
Born in Mondorf on the banks of the Rhine River in Germany in 1927, Johanna grew up in a very learned family, especially when it came to the world and thoughts of the arts. Her father was a local school principal and her mother, although not pursuing a career of her own, was widely and well read, introducing little Johanna to the works of major German authors, poets, and philosophers – from Goethe and Schiller to Heine, Kafka, and to Kant and Schopenhauer.
If it was her mother who inspired a sense of and life-long desire for knowledge, reasoning, and intellectual fulfillment in the young Johanna, it was her father’s community and social work and commitment outside of his school towards the community at large that let young Johanna witness first hand during the worse of the German Great Depression in the 1930s the devastating effect poverty and despair can have on human dignity. She was particularly impressed by the lifelong effects poverty can have on children and their development as persons.
Those childhood impressions were deepened even further by her experience as a refugee at the end of the Second World War, in January 1945; while fleeing the advance of the Eastern Front in Upper Silesia, Johanna witnessed and experienced herself the horror, devastation, and despair that a total war can cause the human existence. And yet, she also experienced first hand how vital hope can be for the human spirit and for finding the inner strength to overcome the seemingly most hopeless situations one can imagine. This experience of and feeling for the inner human strength and dignity stayed with Johanna for the rest of her life, causing her not only to show, but also to inspire in her small way others to see the need for giving everyone a chance to grow, to learn, and to prosper as human being with all one’s faculties and abilities.
With this approach to life and given her own life experience, for Johanna, economic development in the end did not mean just big government or industrial projects - after all, she was an assistant teacher in a primary school and not an economist by profession - but most importantly, to give every human, especially the children of this world, the opportunity to fully develop mentally and intellectually in a peaceful, safe, and healthy environment. It is this understanding of economic development that this new Lectureship is expected to promote and to foster. It is time to boldly try and think in new ways to finally overcome and put an end to the devastating experience that she herself had and that countless children and adults continue to experience even today in an environment of poverty, war, and environmental degradation.
Previous J. M. Boving Lectures