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Library of Congress to Award $1.5 Million Kluge Prize in 2015

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The Kluge Center is pleased to announce that the Library of Congress will award one of the largest cash prizes for scholarship in the humanities and social sciences when it confers its John W. Kluge Prize in September 2015.

The John W. Kluge Prize for Achievement in the Study of Humanity and its accompanying $1.5 million – endowed by the late Library of Congress benefactor John W. Kluge – will be awarded to a scholar or scholars whose outstanding work has had a profound effect on the study of humanity. The prize recognizes individuals whose scholarly accomplishments fall outside the disciplines covered by the Nobel Prizes, including history, philosophy, sociology and politics. The winner or winners – who will be vetted through an international selection process – will be announced in summer 2015 and will represent scholarship of the highest quality and greatest impact. The Librarian of Congress James H. Billington will make the final selection.

Nominations for this year’s recipient have been solicited from more than 3,000 individuals around the world, including leaders in colleges, universities, the political arena, the diplomatic corps and Foreign Service, the media and research institutions, as well as from independent scholars, writers and from Library of Congress specialists. Nominations will be rigorously evaluated by several panels of experts over the coming months, and final recommendations delivered to the Librarian of Congress this summer. The recipient is expected to be named in July.

The John W. Kluge Prize for for Achievement in the Study of Humanity
The John W. Kluge Prize for for Achievement in the Study of Humanity.

September will mark the sixth time the Kluge Prize has been awarded by the Librarian of Congress. Prior awards have been $1 million, but $1.5 million will be awarded this year to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Library’s John W. Kluge Center, which was founded in 2000 and which administers the award process. The Kluge Center and the Kluge Prize were both endowed by a gift from the late philanthropist John W. Kluge. The Kluge Prize money is drawn from this endowment – no public funds are used.

The Prize is administered by the Kluge Center in the Library of Congress. The center was established in 2000 to foster a mutually enriching relationship between the world of ideas and the world of action, between scholars and political leaders. The center attracts to Washington outstanding figures in the scholarly world – both senior and junior – and facilitates their access to the Library’s remarkable collection of the world’s knowledge and engages them in conversation with members and staff of the U.S. Congress and other public figures. Lectures and other scholarly events contribute to a vibrant community and enrich the intellectual life of Washington. For further information on the Kluge Center, visit our website.

Past winners of the Kluge Prize, which was first given in 2003, include Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski, whose writings helped galvanize Polish resistance to the Communist regime; African-American historian John Hope Franklin, whose work established African-American history as a serious and distinct academic discipline; and Indian historian Romila Thapar, who re-conceptualized the early history of India despite opposition from nationalist political groups. In 2012, the most recent year the prize was awarded, the recipient was Fernando Henrique Cardoso, the 34th President of Brazil. President Cardoso began his professional life as a sociologist, and used his research to inform his policies as President – policies which transformed Brazil into one of the world’s largest economies and a major player on the world stage. Click here for the full list of past prize winners.

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