Open main menu

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

Prize and adornmentEdit

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 (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]

Young researchersEdit

The Erasmus prize is not intended to stimulate young researchers.[4] However, the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation has awarded from 1988 yearly "studyprizes" for exceptionally high quality PHD studies on the field of humanities or social sciences.

Prize winnersEdit

Photo Year Winner Notes References
  1958 The People of Austria 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. [5][6]
  1959 Robert Schuman [5]
  1959 Karl Jaspers [5]
  1960 Marc Chagall [5]
  1960 Oskar Kokoschka [5]
  1962 Romano Guardini [5]
  1963 Martin Buber [5]
  1964 Union Académique Internationale [5]
   1965 Sir Charles Chaplin, Ingmar Bergman [5]
    1966 Herbert Read, René Huyghe [5]
  1967 Jan Tinbergen [5]
  1968 Henry Moore [5]
  1969 Gabriel Marcel, Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker [5]
  1970 Hans Scharoun [5]
  1971 Olivier Messiaen [5]
  1972 Jean Piaget [5]
  1973 Claude Lévi-Strauss [5]
    1974 Ninette de Valois, Maurice Béjart [5]
    1975 Ernst Gombrich, Willem Sandberg [5]
  1976 Amnesty International, René David [5]
   1977 Werner Kaegi, Jean Monnet [5]
  1978 Puppet Theatre/Theme puppetry: [5][citation needed]
  1979 Die Zeit, Neue Zürcher Zeitung [5]
    1980 Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Gustav Leonhardt [5]
  1981 Jean Prouvé [5]
  1982 Edward Schillebeeckx [5]
    1983 Raymond Aron, Isaiah Berlin, Leszek Kołakowski, Marguerite Yourcenar [5]
  1984 Massimo Pallottino [5]
  1985 Paul Delouvrier [5]
  1986 Václav Havel [5]
  1987 Alexander King [5]
  1988 Jacques Ledoux [5]
  1989 International Commission of Jurists [5]
  1990 Sir Grahame Clark [5]
  1991 Bernard Haitink [5]
  1992 General Archive of the Indies [5]
  1992 Simon Wiesenthal [5]
  1993 Peter Stein [5]
  1994 Sigmar Polke [5]
  1995 Renzo Piano [5]
  1996 William Hardy McNeill [5]
  1997 Jacques Delors [5]
    1998 Mauricio Kagel, Peter Sellars [5]
  1999 Mary Robinson [5]
  2000 Hans van Manen [5]
    2001 Claudio Magris, Adam Michnik [5]
  2002 Bernd and Hilla Becher [5]
  2003 Alan Davidson [5]
  2004 Abdolkarim Soroush, Sadik Al-Azm and Fatema Mernissi [5]
    2005 Simon Schaffer and Steven Shapin [5]
  2006 Pierre Bernard [5]
  2007 Péter Forgács [5]
  2008 Ian Buruma [5]
    2009 Antonio Cassese, Benjamin B. Ferencz [5]
  2010 José Antonio Abreu [5]
  2011 Joan Busquets [5]
  2012 Daniel Dennett [5]
  2013 Jürgen Habermas [5]
  2014 Frie Leysen Theme of "Theatre, audience and society" [5][7]
  2015 Wikipedia community 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." [1][2]
  2016 A. S. Byatt For inspiring contribution to 'life writing' [8][9]
  2017 Michèle Lamont "For her devoted contribution to social science research into the relationship between knowledge, power and diversity" [10]
  2018 Barbara Ehrenreich For giving "a voice to groups in society that would otherwise remain unheard" [11]
  2019 John Adams "Because he has created a new musical idiom by fusing elements from jazz, pop and classical music" [12]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Erasmus Prize - Praemium Erasmianum". Praemium Erasmianum Foundation. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Wikipedia turns 14, receives prestigious Erasmus Prize 2015". Wikimedia Foundation. 15 January 2015. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  3. ^ "Prize and Adornments". Praemium Erasmianum Foundation. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  4. ^ a b c "Organisation". Praemium Erasmianum Foundation. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh "Former Laureates - Praemium Erasmianum". Praemium Erasmianum Foundation. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  6. ^ "Former Laureats - The Austrian people". Praemium Erasmianum Foundation. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  7. ^ "Former Laureates". Praemium Erasmianum Foundation. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  8. ^ "Britse schrijfster A.S. Byatt krijgt Erasmusprijs" (in Dutch). NOS. 17 January 2016. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  9. ^ "Press release: Erasmus Prize 2016 awarded to A.S. Byatt". 17 January 2016. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  10. ^ "Nieuws :: Praemium Erasmianum". (in Dutch). Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  11. ^ Press release: 2018 Erasmus Prize awarded to Barbara Ehrenreich (Retrieved 1 May 2018)
  12. ^ Press release: 2019 Erasmus Prize awarded to John Adams (Retrieved 21 February 2019)