Established with an endowment provided by the late John W. Kluge, the Kluge Prize recognizes and celebrates work of the highest quality and greatest impact that advances understanding of the human experience.
The Prize is awarded on a semi-regular basis, usually every two years. The Prize is international; the recipient may be of any nationality, and write and work in any language. The Prize is ordinarily a $1 million award.
The main criterion for the prize is deep achievement in the study of humanity. Nominees need not have worked primarily in academic institutions, but they are expected to have developed, in their creative pursuits or careers, unique insights into the forces that have shaped and continue to shape humankind. Candidates should be distinguished by their intellectual achievements, by the fundamental importance of their work and its impact on public affairs and civil society, and by the ability to communicate the significance of their work to broad audiences.
The nominee's body of work should have evidenced growth in maturity and range and have earned unusual distinction within a given area of inquiry. It should exemplify values and insights that have meaning both within and beyond the scholarly community over a sustained period. It should, in large part, be understandable to scholars in a variety of fields, to those involved in public affairs, and to the average layperson. Seniority is not a prerequisite for recognition of such achievement.
The prize is not offered to candidates whose primary work has been in economic sciences, literature, peace, chemistry, physics, or physiology or medicine, the areas covered by the Nobel Prizes.
Past recipients include Leszek Kołakowski of Poland, Paul Ricoeur of France, Jaroslav Pelikan, John Hope Franklin and Peter Brown of the United States, Yu Ying-shih of China and the United States, Romila Thapar of India, President Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil, Jürgen Habermas of Germany, and Charles Taylor of Canada.
The Library of Congress invites nominations for the Kluge Prize from knowledgeable individuals in colleges, universities, government agencies, embassies, and research institutions across the globe, as well as from independent scholars and writers and from library curators.
Nominations must be made in writing and include a detailed assessment of a nominee's accomplishments. Explanatory documentation is helpful, and is essential for any nomination received without prior solicitation. Self-nominations are not accepted.
Nominations may be submitted by email. Nominations and supporting material should be sent to:
The confidential evaluation of the submitted nominations takes place in several stages.
First, internal and external nominations are collected and reviewed by a panel of Library of Congress specialists and curators. On the basis of this evaluation—as well as her own—the Librarian of Congress selects approximately 30 nominees for further consideration.
Next, the pool of candidates is sent for review to the members of the Library’s Scholars Council, a body of distinguished scholars convened by the Librarian of Congress. After receiving input from Scholars Council members, the Librarian of Congress selects the top five nominees.
A final panel then reviews each finalist intensively and comprehensively. The panel presents the arguments in favor of and against each finalist to the Librarian of Congress, who draws upon all the evaluation and discussion to make the final decision.
The Kluge Prize is awarded at a formal ceremony hosted by the Librarian of Congress in the historic Thomas Jefferson Building. A gala dinner follows.
A public announcement of the recipient(s) is made two to three months prior to the ceremony.
For media inquiries, please contact the Kluge Center.
- Award name: The John W. Kluge Prize for Achievement in the Study of Humanity
- Awarded by: The Library of Congress
- Selection process: Panel of experts with final decision by the Librarian of Congress
- Year created: 2000
- Endowed by: John W. Kluge
- Nominations: Letters inviting nominations are sent to more than 3,000 individuals worldwide in the fields of politics, academia, the diplomatic corps, public policy, business and the media.
- Award amount: Ordinarily $1 million. For 2015, in recognition of the Kluge Center's 15th anniversary, the award was increased to $1.5 million.
- Philosophers Habermas and Taylor Awarded $1.5 Million Kluge Prize (photos)
- Philosophers Habermas and Taylor to Share $1.5 Million Kluge Prize
- Kluge Center to Award $1.5m Kluge Prize in 2015
Images & Videos
Programs & Communications Manager, The John W. Kluge Center
Public Affairs Specialist, Office of Communications, Library of Congress
Watch the 2015 Kluge Prize Award Ceremony
The 2015 Kluge Prize award ceremony occurred Tuesday, September 29th at the Library of Congress. Click here to watch.