Fellow of the British Academy wins the 2022 Holberg Prize for research in science and technology studies

18 Mar 2022

A British Academy Fellow, Professor Sheila Jasanoff, has scooped the prestigious Holberg Prize 2022, one of the largest international prizes awarded annually to an outstanding researcher in the humanities, social sciences, law or theology.

Professor Sheila Jasanoff, the Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies (STS) at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, has been honoured for her groundbreaking research in science and technology studies. She becomes the 13th Fellow of the British Academy to win the prize (of 19 winners in total). Other Fellows of the British Academy who have received the Holberg Prize include Professor Paul Gilroy (2019), Professor Cass Sunstein and former President of the Academy Baroness Onora O’Neill (2017).

Professor Jasanoff is regarded as a pioneer in the field of STS, which examines the creation, development and consequences of science and technology in their historical, cultural and social contexts. With research interests spanning the fields of science, technology, law, democratic theory and public policy, Professor Jasanoff is best known for developing the theory of co-production, which argues that how we know and represent the world are inseparable from how we choose to live in it.

In a statement, Holberg Committee Chair Heike Krieger described Professor Jasanoff as “a significant public intellectual, offering timely comments on topics of public concern such as fake news and climate change.”

Reflecting on the award, Professor Jasanoff said:

“The liberal arts and humanities are if anything more important than ever before because these are the fields that enable us to reflect on the human condition. Despite all the disincentives, I find that increasing numbers of students in science and engineering are searching for ways to think more deeply about the implications of the work they are doing. That understanding does not come from within the sciences but from the fields recognized by the Holberg Prize.

“I think we have to keep demonstrating their relevance by pointing out the profoundly humanistic questions that accompany every significant new development in more technical fields. It’s really a matter of us humanists having the courage of our convictions.”

Professor Julia Black FBA, President of the British Academy, said:

"As the President of the British Academy, I would like to congratulate Professor Jasanoff on this fantastic and thoroughly deserved achievement. Elected to our Fellowship in 2020, Professor Jasanoff is a leading light in the field of science and technology studies and her pioneering work on the role of science and technology in the law, politics, and policy of modern democracies has rightly drawn plaudits and recognition from colleagues across the disciplinary spectrum. I look forward to seeing what she does next."

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