The British Academy President's Medal

The President’s Medal is awarded annually, designed to recognise public champions of the humanities and social sciences.

History of the prize

Unlike other British Academy medals and prizes, the President's Medal does not reward academic achievement alone but seeks to recognise those that use academic research to reach and engage a wider audience and are seen as public champions of the humanities and social sciences. The President’s Medal was first awarded in 2010.

Eligibility

We are looking to recognise outstanding individuals, groups or organisations that have:

  • Demonstrated dedication to multiple initiatives over several years, which have strengthened and championed their discipline or disciplines.
  • Informed and enriched public debates around society’s greatest questions, utilising creativity, imagination, knowledge and insight to make contributions to understanding ourselves and society’s greatest challenges.
  • Been widely recognised, both by specialists and non-specialists, for mobilising the humanities or social sciences for the benefit of everyone, sharing their research to enable people to learn, progress and prosper.
  • Shown commitment to opening up their discipline, inspiring new, curious minds to engage with the humanities and social sciences.

Examples of outstanding contribution that have previously been awarded the President’s Medal include:

  • The Rest is History podcast for entertaining yet intellectually rigorous podcasts that have increased the public interest in history.
  • Full Fact for accurate and insightful journalism that has contributed to greater public understanding and awareness of misinformation and misleading claims.
  • David Olusoga for the championing of inclusive approaches to British and international history and how we understand our collective histories.
  • Margaret Atwood for inspiring decades of scholarship in the humanities and social sciences with novels and poetry that explore issues around gender, faith, politics and ecology.
  • Ben Goldacre for campaigning for the need for evidence- and reason-based approaches to problem solving.

Recipients of the medal may be anyone who has done or achieved something that contributes to furthering the humanities and/or social sciences, either recently or over a longer period, which the Academy sees fit to recognise and reward.

Recipients cannot be Fellows of the British Academy but could be individuals (academics, policymakers, members of the public, media, or business) or organisations (universities, corporations, charities, broadcasters).

How to nominate

Nominations for this award are open from 1 December 2024 to 31 January 2025 and may only be made by Fellows of the British Academy. Entries should be submitted electronically to [email protected].

In the body of the email, clearly state:

  • Name of the prize or medal
  • Name of nominee
  • Nominee’s position/institution and email address
  • Nominee’s principal area of academic distinction
  • Supporting statement (250 words)
  • Nominator’s name and your British Academy section
  • Declaration of any institutional or personal interest

Nominations will be reviewed, and the winner selected, by the relevant panel.

If you have any queries submitting a nomination, please email [email protected].


2023 winner

2023 marks the first time the President's Medal has been awarded to a podcast or any type of broadcast programme, in recognition of The Rest is History’s work to present historical research in an engaging and accessible way to a wider audience and provide a platform for a range of academics to engage the public with their expertise. Since first airing in late 2020, The Rest is History has provided in-depth explorations into a diverse and complex set of historical topics ranging across time and place from antiquity and the ancient world to the life and death of John F. Kennedy. The podcast has been downloaded 150 million times.

It’s an enormous honour to be awarded the President’s Medal, and one we could never have anticipated when we began our podcast. At a time when historical debates are often so strident and simplistic, our goal has always been to share our enthusiasm for the past, with all its thrilling complexity, with the widest possible audience. We love history, and we love talking about it. But we’ve only been able to do that with the help of our brilliant young production team, and this award is for them, too.

- Podcast hosts Tom Holland and Dominic Sandbrook, 2023


Previous winners

2022 Full Fact, a team of independent fact checkers and campaigners who seek to safeguard democracy by countering the spread of mis- and disinformation.

2021 David Olusoga, British-Nigerian historian, writer, broadcaster and filmmaker

2020 Margaret Atwood, author, novelist, poet and cultural and environmental activist

2019 Ben Goldacre, clinician, academic and best-selling author

2018 Zeinab Badawi, Journalist and President of the Royal African Society; John Hemming, Author and explorer; Andreas Gestrich; William Dalrymple, Author and Co-Founder of ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival; Dame Frances Cairncross, Chair of the Court, Herriot Watt University

2017 Claudia Hammond, BBC Radio 4; Katie Mitchell; Jimmy Wales, Wikimedia Foundation; Professor James Stevens Curl, University of Ulster; Professor Helga Nowotny, ETH Zurich

2016  Dr Roger Bland, University of Leicester; Dr Leofranc Holford-Strevens, classical scholar and polymath; Dame Hilary Mantel, author;
Professor Sir Stanley Wells CBE, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

2015  Dr Peter V Addyman, formerly York Archaeological Trust and Jorvik Viking Centre; Darren Henley, Arts Council England; Dr Elizabeth Livingstone, theologian; Professor Michael Wood, University of Manchester

2014  Peter Brook, Centre International de Créations Théâtrales; Sir Paul Collier, University of Oxford; Dame Jane Goodall, Jane Goodall Institute; Clive James, author, broadcaster and poet

2013  Ms Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty; Baroness Jean Coussins, House of Lords; Sir Peter Stothard, Editor of the Times Literary SupplementLord Williams of Oystermouth FBA, Magdalene College, Cambridge

2012  Professor Warwick Gould, Institute of English Studies, University of London; The Right Reverend Professor Lord Harries of PentregarthProfessor Lisa Jardine, University College London; Professor Sir John Vickers FBA, University of Oxford

2011  Sir Nicholas Kenyon, Managing Director of the Barbican Centre; Dr Gillian Tett, Assistant Editor, Financial Times; Ms Sharon Witherspoon, Deputy Director of the Nuffield Foundation

2010  Dr Sarah Tyacke, Distinguished Research Fellow, School of Advanced Study, University of London; Professor Michael Worton, Vice Provost (Academic and International) and Fielden Professor of French Language and Literature, University College London; Rt Hon Peter Riddell, Institute for Government

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