The Kluge Prize celebrates the importance of the study of humanity and recognizes individuals whose outstanding scholarship in the humanities and social sciences has shaped both public affairs and civil society. The Prize is ordinarily a $1 million award.
The Kluge Prize celebrates the importance of the study of humanity. The Prize recognizes individuals whose outstanding scholarship in the humanities and social sciences has shaped both public affairs and civil society.
The Prize rewards sustained achievement in a wide range of disciplines including history, philosophy, politics, anthropology, sociology, religion, criticism in the arts and humanities, and linguistics—disciplines not covered by the Nobel Prizes.
The Prize is awarded on a semi-regular basis, usually every two to three years. In some years the Prize has been shared by two individuals. The Prize is international; the recipient may be of any nationality, and write and work in any language. The Prize is ordinarily a $1 million award.
The main criterion for a candidate of the Kluge Prize is deep intellectual accomplishment in the study of humanity.
While the study of humanity is a part of academia, a nominee need not have worked primarily in academic institutions, but may also come from fields such as public service, media, and visual and performing arts. The recipient will have demonstrated unusual distinction within a given area of inquiry while also affecting perspectives and understanding in other areas of study.
The recipient's body of work should over the years evidence growth in maturity and range. It should, in large part, be accessible to scholars in a variety of fields, to those involved in public affairs, and to the general public.
The Librarian of Congress invites nominations from a wide range of individuals knowledgeable about the humanities and social sciences located in colleges, universities, the political arena, the diplomatic corps and foreign service, the media, and research institutions across the globe, as well as from independent scholars and writers and from Library of Congress specialists. Suggestions for nominators are always welcome.
Nominations must be made in writing and include a detailed assessment of a nominee's accomplishments. Explanatory documentation is helpful, and is essential for any nomination received without prior solicitation. Self nominations are not accepted.
Nominations may be submitted by email or fax. Nominations and supporting material should be sent to:
The John W. Kluge Center
Library of Congress LJ 120
101 Independence Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20540-4860
Fax: (202) 707-3595
The confidential evaluation of the submitted nominations takes place in several stages.
First, internal and external nominations are collected and given to a panel of Library of Congress specialists and curators for evaluation. On the basis of this evaluation--as well as his own--the Librarian of Congress selects approximately 20 nominees for further consideration.
Next, Library of Congress area studies experts prepare a dossier containing biographical and bibliographic information on each nominee, as well as key excerpts from seminal works, critiques, and commentaries. The dossiers are sent for evaluation to the members of the Library Scholars Council, a body of distinguished scholars, convened by the Librarian of Congress to advise on matters related to scholarship at the Library.
After receiving evaluations from each Scholars Council member, the Librarian of Congress selects the top five nominees. Independent outside experts are called upon to prepare Expert Reader reports, advocacies, formal peer reviews and informal assessments. A Final Review Panel then reviews each finalist intensively and comprehensively, considering his or her entire life’s work as documented in the dossiers and additional materials. The panel presents the arguments in favor of and against each finalist to the Librarian of Congress, who draws upon all the evaluation and discussion to make the final decision.
The Kluge Prize is awarded at formal ceremony hosted by the Librarian of Congress in the historic Thomas Jefferson Building. A gala dinner follows.
A public announcement of the recipient(s) is made two to three months prior to the ceremony.
To request an invitation to the award ceremony, please click here.
For media inquiries, please click here.
The Kluge Prize was established in 2000 with the creation of The John W. Kluge Center. Endowed by the late businessman and philanthropist John W. Kluge, the Prize recognizes humanities and social science scholarship of the highest quality and greatest impact.
The Kluge Prize is awarded to individuals for a lifetime of exceptional achievement in the humanities and social sciences, most notably in the fields of history, philosophy, politics, psychology, anthropology, sociology, religious studies, linguistics, and criticism in the arts and humanities. None of these fields is presently recognized by the Nobel Prizes, making the Kluge Prize unique among international awards of similar size.
While the study of humanity is central to the work of colleges and universities, recipients are not solely limited to scholars in academic institutions. Prize recipients can make their contributions in the media, the performing or literary arts, or in public service. All Prize winners must have earned unusual distinction, and their body of work must demonstrate growth in maturity and range over a sustained period of time. The work of the Prize winner must exemplify values and ways of thinking that have meaning for scholars in a variety of fields, for those involved in public affairs and for the educated layperson. The Kluge Prize is international; the recipient may be of any nationality, writing in any language.
As of January 1, 2015, The Kluge Prize has been awarded five times to eight recipients.
The first Kluge Prize was awarded in 2003 to Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski. The author of more than 30 books and 400 other writings, Kolakowski was an open and acerbic critic of Communism and totalitarian regimes, and his writings helped advance the cause of resistance to Soviet rule in Poland. The process that led to Kolakowski's selection as the first Prize recipient began more than two years earlier with a solicitation of nominations from more than 2,000 individuals world-wide.
The Prize was again awarded in 2004 to historian Jaroslav Pelikan and philosopher Paul Ricouer. In 2006, historians John Hope Franklin and Yu Ying-shih shared the award. In 2008, historians Peter Brown and Romila Thapar were named co-recipients. The most recent Kluge Prize was awarded in 2012 to Fernando Henrique Cardoso, a distinguished sociologist who served as the 34th President of Brazil.
A rigorous and prolonged nomination and deliberation process, designed to ensure that scholars of the highest quality from all corners of the globe are considered results in a semi-regular award schedule. Currently nomination requests are solicited from more than 3,000 individuals worldwide.
About John W. Kluge
"During the years I have been associated with the Madison Council and the Library of Congress, I have seen how supplementary private sector resources can help propel an institution like the Library beyond its government-supported role to become a leader in education and scholarship. My hope is that this new award will build on these accomplishments and enhance the dialog between scholars and lawmakers to the benefit of our larger democratic society."
—John W. Kluge
During his lifetime, billionaire philanthropist John W. Kluge played an enormous role in allowing the Library of Congress to meet and serve America's educational needs.
Kluge served as the first chairman of the Library's James Madison Council in 1990. In that role he enlisted advisers and donors from the private sector to support the Library's commitment to making its educational, scientific, technological, and cultural resources available to the world, including the early digitization of millions of items through the creation of the National Digital Library Program.
In celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the Library of Congress in 2000, Kluge donated an unprecedented $60 million to support an academic center where accomplished senior scholars and junior post-doctoral fellows might gather to make use of the Library's incomparable collections and to interact with members of Congress. As of January 1, 2015, the Kluge Center has welcomed more than 600 scholars from around the world to the Library to make use of the Library's unparalleled collections.
In addition, Kluge's gift established a $1 million dollar prize to be given in recognition of a lifetime of achievement in the human sciences, comparable to the Nobel Prizes in literature and economics. The Kluge Prize would honor life time intellectual achievement in the same way as the Kennedy Center Honors recognize lifetime achievement in the performing arts. The Prize has been awarded five times to eight individuals.
John W. Kluge passed away on September 8, 2010.
About The John W. Kluge Center
The Kluge Prize process is administered by The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress. The Kluge 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 and facilitates their access to the Library’s remarkable collection. It also engages scholars in conversation with the U.S. Congress and other public figures. The Center also supports the most promising rising generation of junior scholars through a variety of research fellowships. Lectures and other scholarly events contribute to a vibrant community and enrich the intellectual life of Washington, D.C.
About The Library of Congress
Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation's oldest federal cultural institution and serves as the research arm of Congress. It is also the largest library in the world, with more than 158 million books, films, sound recordings, photographs, maps, and manuscripts in its collections.
The Library's mission is to support the Congress in fulfilling its constitutional duties and to further the progress of knowledge and creativity for the benefit of the American people.
The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding by providing access to its incomparably rich and multi-faceted collections, many of which are freely available via the World Wide Web.
Learn more about the Library on our homepage.
"In the sands of time we make very little difference. But what difference we can make, we should try to make."
—John W. Kluge
- Award name: The John W. Kluge Prize for Achievement in the Study of Humanity
- Awarded by: The Library of Congress
- Selection process: Panel of experts with final decision by the Librarian of Congress
- Year created: 2000
- Endowed by: John W. Kluge
- Nominations: Letters inviting nominations are sent to more than 3,000 individuals worldwide in the fields of politics, academia, the diplomatic corps, public policy, business and the media.
- Award amount: Ordinarily $1 million dollars. For 2015, in recognition of the Kluge Center's 15th anniversary, the award was increased to $1.5 million.
- Philosophers Habermas and Taylor Awarded $1.5 Million Kluge Prize (photos)
- Philosophers Habermas and Taylor to Share $1.5 Million Kluge Prize
- Kluge Center to Award $1.5m Kluge Prize in 2015
Images & Videos
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Programs & Communications Manager, The John W. Kluge Center
Public Affairs Specialist, Office of Communications, Library of Congress
Watch the 2015 Kluge Prize Award Ceremony
The 2015 Kluge Prize award ceremony occurred Tuesday, September 29th at the Library of Congress. Click here to watch.