The Erasmus Prize is an annual prize awarded by the board of the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation to individuals or institutions that have made exceptional contributions to culture, society, or social science in Europe and the rest of the world.[1] It is one of Europe's most distinguished recognitions.[2] The prize is named after Desiderius Erasmus, the Dutch Renaissance humanist.

Erasmus Prize
Awarded forNotable contributions to European culture, society, or social science
First awarded1958
Last awardedAnnual award[1]
Website Edit this on Wikidata

Prize and adornment


As of 2015, the prize consists of €150,000[1] and an adornment that was designed by Bruno Ninaber van Eyben in 1995. The adornment is a ribbon folded in the style of a harmonica, with ends made of titanium plates. The ribbon bears a text in the handwriting of Erasmus taken from a letter to Jean Carondelet written on 5 January 1523. The text reads "variae sunt ingeniorum dotes multae seculorum varietates sunt. quod quisque potest in medium proferat nec alteri quisquam invideat qui pro sua virili suoque modo conatur publicis studiis utilitatis aliquid adiungere.", which translates as "Diverse are the gifts of men of genius and many are the different kinds of ages. Let each one reveal the scope of his competence and let no one be envious of another who in keeping with his own ability and style tries to make a useful contribution to the education of all."[3]



The award ceremony typically takes place at the Royal Palace of Amsterdam, where the prize is presented by the patron of the Foundation (His Majesty the King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands as of 2015). A wide range of academic and cultural activities are organised around the Erasmus Prize award ceremony, in cooperation with other academic and cultural organisations. These have included lectures, conferences, workshops, exhibitions, performances of dance, music and theatre, and other educational activities. An essay on the topic of the laureate and their work is also published.[4]

The prize was first awarded in 1958. As of 2015 it has been awarded a total of 73 times in 53 years.[1][5] The area in which the Erasmus prize will be awarded is decided upon in advance by the Foundation's board. An advisory committee then consults with Dutch and foreign experts before proposing a laureate; the final choice of the laureate is then made by the Foundation's board.[4] In 2015, Wikipedia editors received the Erasmus Prize—under the theme 'Digital Culture'. According to the Foundation, Wikipedia: "has promoted the dissemination of knowledge through a comprehensive and universally acceptable encyclopedia available to everybody".[6] Three young representatives of the Wikipedia Community received the Erasmus Prize, each of them represented new initiatives within Wikipedia.

Young researchers


The Erasmus prize is not intended to stimulate young researchers.[4] However, the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation has awarded from 1988 yearly "Research Prizes" for exceptionally high quality PhD studies on the field of Law, Humanities, Social sciences.

Prize winners

Photo Year Winner Notes
  1958 The People of Austria[7] Cultural heritage. Awarded at the University of Milan. Prize funds were granted to Austrians studying in Europe; foreign students studying in Austria; and excavations at Ephesus.
  1959 Robert Schuman
  1959 Karl Jaspers
  1960 Marc Chagall
  1960 Oskar Kokoschka
  1962 Romano Guardini
  1963 Martin Buber
  1964 Union Académique Internationale
    1965 Sir Charles Chaplin, Ingmar Bergman
    1966 Herbert Read, René Huyghe
  1967 Jan Tinbergen
  1968 Henry Moore
  1969 Gabriel Marcel, Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker
  1970 Hans Scharoun
  1971 Olivier Messiaen
  1972 Jean Piaget
  1973 Claude Lévi-Strauss
    1974 Ninette de Valois, Maurice Béjart
    1975 Ernst Gombrich, Willem Sandberg
  1976 Amnesty International, René David
    1977 Werner Kaegi, Jean Monnet
  1978 Puppet Theatre/Theme puppetry:
  1979 Die Zeit, Neue Zürcher Zeitung
    1980 Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Gustav Leonhardt
  1981 Jean Prouvé
  1982 Edward Schillebeeckx
    1983 Raymond Aron, Isaiah Berlin, Leszek Kołakowski, Marguerite Yourcenar
  1984 Massimo Pallottino
  1985 Paul Delouvrier
  1986 Václav Havel
  1987 Alexander King
  1988 Jacques Ledoux
  1989 International Commission of Jurists
  1990 Grahame Clark
  1991 Bernard Haitink
  1992 General Archive of the Indies
  1992 Simon Wiesenthal
  1993 Peter Stein
  1994 Sigmar Polke
  1995 Renzo Piano
  1996 William Hardy McNeill
  1997 Jacques Delors
    1998 Mauricio Kagel, Peter Sellars
  1999 Mary Robinson
  2000 Hans van Manen
    2001 Claudio Magris, Adam Michnik
  2002 Bernd and Hilla Becher
  2003 Alan Davidson
  2004 Abdolkarim Soroush, Sadik Al-Azm and Fatema Mernissi
    2005 Simon Schaffer and Steven Shapin
  2006 Pierre Bernard
  2007 Péter Forgács
  2008 Ian Buruma
    2009 Antonio Cassese, Benjamin B. Ferencz
  2010 José Antonio Abreu
  2011 Joan Busquets
  2012 Daniel Dennett
  2013 Jürgen Habermas
  2014 Frie Leysen[8] Theme of "Theatre, audience and society"
  2015 Wikipedia community[1][2] For "[promoting] the dissemination of knowledge through a comprehensive and universally accessible encyclopaedia. To achieve that, the initiators of Wikipedia have designed a new and effective democratic platform. The prize specifically recognises Wikipedia as a community—a shared project that involves tens of thousands of volunteers around the world."
  2016 A. S. Byatt[1][2] For inspiring contribution to 'life writing'
  2017 Michèle Lamont[9] "For her devoted contribution to social science research into the relationship between knowledge, power and diversity"
  2018 Barbara Ehrenreich[10] For giving "a voice to groups in society that would otherwise remain unheard"
  2019 John Adams[11] "Because he has created a new musical idiom by fusing elements from jazz, pop and classical music"
  2021 Grayson Perry[12] "Perry has developed a unique visual language, demonstrating that art belongs to everybody and should not be an elitist affair."
  2022 David Grossman[13] "He seeks to understand people from within, and to regard the other with love, across borders of war and history."
  2023 Trevor Noah[14] "... for his inspired contribution to the theme 'In Praise of Folly,' named after Erasmus’s most famous book, which is filled with humour, social criticism and political satire. With his sharp-minded, mocking yet inclusive political comedy, Noah, in the eyes of the jury, upholds the 'Erasmian Spirit.'"
  2024 Amitav Ghosh "He receives the prize for his passionate contribution to the theme ‘imagining the unthinkable’, in which an unprecedented global crisis – climate change – takes shape through the written word. Ghosh has delved deeply into the question of how to do justice to this existential threat that defies our imagination. His work offers a remedy by making an uncertain future palpable through compelling stories about the past. He also wields his pen to show that the climate crisis is a cultural crisis that results from a dearth of the imagination."

See also



  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Erasmus Prize". Praemium Erasmianum Foundation. Archived from the original on 3 December 2017. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  2. ^ a b c "Wikipedia turns 14, receives prestigious Erasmus Prize 2015". Wikimedia Foundation. 15 January 2015. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  3. ^ "Prize and Adornments". Praemium Erasmianum Foundation. Archived from the original on 17 December 2013. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  4. ^ a b c "Organisation". Praemium Erasmianum Foundation. Archived from the original on 23 June 2017. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  5. ^ "Former Laureates". Praemium Erasmianum Foundation. Archived from the original on 30 September 2015. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  6. ^ "Erasmusprijswinnaars". Stichting Praemium Erasmianum (in Dutch). Retrieved 1 June 2023.
  7. ^ "Former Laureats – The Austrian people". Praemium Erasmianum Foundation. Archived from the original on 8 October 2015. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  8. ^ "Former Laureates". Praemium Erasmianum Foundation. Archived from the original on 8 October 2015. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  9. ^ "Nieuws :: Praemium Erasmianum". (in Dutch). Archived from the original on 10 April 2018. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  10. ^ Press release: 2018 Erasmus Prize awarded to Barbara Ehrenreich (Retrieved 1 May 2018)
  11. ^ Press release: 2019 Erasmus Prize awarded to John Adams (Retrieved 21 February 2019)
  12. ^ "Grayson Perry". Praemium Erasmianum Foundation. 5 October 2020. Retrieved 13 October 2020.
  13. ^ "David Grossman". Praemium Erasmianum Foundation. Retrieved 18 April 2022.
  14. ^ "Erasmusprijswinnaars". Praemium Erasmianum Foundation. Retrieved 24 March 2023.