From Wikipedia to Roman coins: British Academy recognises excellence in the humanities and social sciences

27 Sep 2017

The founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, and the psychologist and radio presenter Claudia Hammond are among those to be honoured by the British Academy today for services to academia.

At its 2017 Prizes and Medals ceremony, to be held this evening (Wednesday 27 September) in central London, the Academy will recognise a host of academics, broadcasters, writers and entrepreneurs for their distinction in – and dedication to – the subjects that make up the arts, humanities and social sciences.

Wales and Hammond, along with Katie Mitchell OBE, Professor James Stevens Curl and Professor Helga Nowotny, will receive the Academy's prestigious President's Medal, which recognises and rewards outstanding achievement in the British Academy's disciplines in public life.

Previous winners of the award include the managing director of the Barbican Centre, Sir Nicholas Kenyon, Baroness Shami Chakrabarti CBE, the former head of human rights group Liberty, and Clive James, the Australian author, journalist and broadcaster.

The Academy will also present a British Academy Medal to Professor Dame Marina Warner DBE CBE FBA for her life's work as an author, historian and journalist, while the Kenyon Medal will go to Miss Joyce Reynolds FBA, in recognition of a lifetime's contribution to the research and study of Roman epigraphy – Miss Reynolds graduated from Oxford with a first in Classics in 1944.

Meanwhile the Neil and Saras Smith Medal for lifetime achievement in the study of linguistics, will go to Professor Bernard Comrie of UCL Santa Barbara. Previous winners of this award include Professor Noam Chomsky, Sir John Lyons FBA and Professor William Labov.

Professor Sir David Cannadine, President of the British Academy, will host the ceremony.

He said: "We are thrilled to present this year's awards to such an outstanding group. This year's winners, be they academics, broadcasters, writers or entrepreneurs, have all demonstrated excellence in their respective fields. They have blazed new trails through their disciplines, shown dedication of the highest order and, through their work, furthered understanding of what it means to be human."

Commenting on his award, Jimmy Wales said: "It is truly an honour to receive this award from the British Academy, an institution for which I have huge respect and admiration. My work has always been about democratising knowledge and empowering people to use that knowledge, so, at a time when democracy, expertise and truth appear to be under threat in so many places, it is gratifying to know that my colleagues and I can count on the support of academia as we work towards our goals."

Of her award, Claudia Hammond said: "I'm delighted and honoured to be receiving this award from the British Academy. My aim is to communicate the importance of psychology and how evaluating evidence can be useful in all our lives and it's really nice to see that recognised by such an important institution."

The full list of award winners is included below.

The President's Medal
The President's Medal rewards outstanding service to the cause of the humanities and social sciences. It covers a broad range of activities, including insightful journalism contributing to public understanding, use of research in policymaking, and public leadership.
The President's Medals in 2017 will be awarded to:

  • Professor James Stevens Curl (University of Ulster), for his contribution to the study of the History of Architecture in Britain and Ireland

  • Claudia Hammond (Radio 4), for her work in improving public understanding of psychology through broadcasting and writing for wider audiences

  • Katie Mitchell OBE, for her work to enhance the presentation of classic and contemporary theatre and opera through innovative new production

  • Professor Helga Nowotny (ETH, Zurich), for her contribution to the founding and shaping of the European Research Council, and positively influencing the shape of research funding and research policy in the UK and Europe

  • Jimmy Wales (Wikimedia Foundation), for facilitating the spread of information via his work creating and developing Wikipedia, the world's largest free online enclyclopedia.

British Academy Medals

The British Academy Medals are awarded for landmark academic achievement in any of the humanities and social science disciplines supported by the Academy.
British Academy Medals in 2017 will be awarded to:

  • Professor Antony Griffiths FBA, for The Print Before Photography: An Introduction to European Printmaking 1550-1820 (British Museum Press, 2016)

  • Professor Avi Shlaim FBA (University of Oxford), for lifetime achievement

  • Professor Dame Marina Warner DBE CBE FBA(Birkbeck, University of London), for lifetime achievement.

The Kenyon Medal
The Kenyon medal was endowed by Sir Frederic Kenyon, elected a fellow in 1903 and serving in turn as the Academy's sixth President and second Secretary. It is awarded biennially in recognition of work in the field of classical studies and archaeology.
The Kenyon Medal in 2017 will be awarded to Miss Joyce Reynolds FBA (University of Cambridge) for her lifetime's contribution to the research and study of Roman epigraphy.

The Derek Allen Prize (Numismatics)
This prize commemorates Derek Allen FBA (1910–1975), a former Secretary and Treasurer of the Academy. It was founded in 1976 by his widow, Mrs Winifred Allen, and her sons, to provide an award for outstanding published work by a scholar of any nationality in one of three fields in which Mr Allen had particular interest. Annual awards are made in turn in musicology, numismatics and Celtic studies. 2017 is the turn of numismatics.
The Derek Allen Prize in 2017 will be awarded to Professor Michael Crawford FBA (University College London) for his significant contribution to the study of Roman numismatics.

The Burkitt Medal (Hebrew Bible Studies)
The founder of this award, Professor Francis Burkitt, had bronze medals struck in 1923 for presentation by the Academy to scholars in recognition of special services to Biblical studies. After his death in 1935 the medals were given the name Burkitt Medals; they now alternately reward work on Hebrew Bible Studies (as in this year) and New Testament Studies.
The Burkitt Medal in 2017 will be awarded to Professor Takamitsu Muraoka (University of Leiden) for his outstanding contribution to the study of Hebrew grammar and syntax, and the Septuagint.

The Edward Ullendorff Medal
The Edward Ullendorff Medal is awarded annually for scholarly distinction and achievements in the field of Semitic Languages and Ethiopian Studies. This award commemorates Professor Edward Ullendorff FBA (1920-2011). His widow, Mrs Dina Ullendorff, has generously supported the establishment of a Medal in memory of her husband in view of his long association with the Academy, which he valued greatly.
The Edward Ullendorff Medal in 2017 will be awarded to Dr Veronika Six (University of Hamburg) for her significant work on the cataloguing of manuscripts of Ethiopic and Christian languages and literature.

The Neil & Saras Smith Medal
The Neil and Saras Smith Medal is awarded to a linguist of any nationality whose career has demonstrated the highest standards of achievement and scholarship. Professor Neil Smith FBA, who established the medal, is Emeritus Professor of Linguistics at University College London.
The Neil and Saras Smith Medal in 2017 will be awarded to Professor Bernard Comrie FBA (University of California, Santa Barbara) for his significant contributions to the study of language universals, linguistic typology and language history.

The Rose Mary Crawshay Prize
In April 1888 Mrs Rose Mary Crawshay established 'The Byron, Shelley, Keats In Memoriam Yearly Prize Fund'. In 1914, some years after her death, the Charity Commissioners transferred the administration of the prize fund to the Academy. It is now awarded for a historical or critical work on any subject connected with English Literature by a woman of any nationality.
The Rose Mary Crawshay prize in 2017 will be awarded to Dr Kate Bennett (University of Oxford) for John Aubrey: Brief Lives with an Apparatus for the Lives of our English Mathematical Writers (Volume I & II).

The Serena Medal (Italian Literature)
The Serena Medal is awarded annually for eminent services towards the furtherance of the study of Italian history, literature, art or economics. It was endowed by Mr Arthur Serena after Great Britain's alliance with Italy in the First World War. The medal was first awarded in 1920.
The Serena Medal in 2017 will be awarded to Professor Martin McLaughlin (University of Oxford) for his leading contribution to Italian studies, particularly Italian Renaissance humanism and literature.

The Landscape Archaeology Medal
The Landscape Archaeology Medal was established in 2007 following the decision of Professor John Coles to establish an Academy medal in this field. It is awarded biennially for distinguished achievements in landscape archaeology.
The Landscape Archaeology Medal in 2017 will be awarded to Professor Tom Williamson (University of East Anglia) for his significant contribution to the study of landscape history and archaeology.

The Sir Israel Gollancz Prize
This prize was established through a bequest from Mrs Frida Mond in 1924 an is associated with Sir Israel Gollancz, the first Secretary of the British Academy, 'in token of a highly valued old friendship and his effort to further these studies'. It is awarded biennially for work connected with Anglo-Saxon, Early English Language and Literature, English Philology, or the History of the English Language.
The Sir Israel Gollancz Prize in 2017 will be awarded to Professor Dr Helmut Gneuss FBA (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich) for his outstanding research into Anglo-Saxon language and literature.

The Wiley Prize in Economics
The Wiley Prize in Economics, worth £5,000, is awarded annually for achievement in research by an outstanding early career economist. The award is sponsored by the publisher, Wiley-Blackwell.
The Wiley Prize in Economics in 2017 will be awarded to Dr Matthew Elliott (University of Cambridge) for his outstanding research in Economic Theory, and particularly social and economic networks.

The Peter Townsend Prize
The Peter Townsend Prize, worth £2,000, is awarded biennially in partnership with Bristol University Press for outstanding work with policy relevance on a topic to which Townsend made a major contribution. It is awarded in commemoration of Professor Peter Townsend, one of the most distinguished global figures in contemporary social policy and sociology. This prize was established to honour his memory following his death in 2009. The prize was first awarded in 2011.
The Peter Townsend Prize in 2017 will be awarded to Dr Kayleigh Garthwaite (University of Birmingham) for Hunger Pains; Life inside foodbank Britain (Policy Press, 2016), a compassionate study of the lives of those using foodbanks in the United Kingdom.

The Brian Barry Prize in Political Science
The British Academy, in partnership with Cambridge University Press and the British Journal of Political Science, awards this prize in honour of Brian Barry FBA, a founding editor of the journal. The prize is awarded annually for excellence in political science, as displayed in an unpublished essay.
The Brian Barry Prize in Political Science in 2017 is awarded to Dr Jonathan White (London School of Economics and Political Science) for The Ethics of Political Alliance.

The Wiley Prize in Psychology
This annual prize, in partnership with the publisher, Wiley-Blackwell, provides an award of £5,000 in recognition of excellence in research in psychology. It alternately rewards lifetime achievement by an outstanding international scholar (as in this year) and promising early career work by a UK-based psychologist.
The Wiley Prize in Psychology in 2017 is awarded to Professor Stanislas Dehaene (INSERM-CEA Cognitive Neuroimaging Unit) for his contribution to the study of the cognitive neuroscience of numeracy, literacy and consciousness.

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