Michael Ignatieff, the president and rector of Central European University, has been awarded the 2019 Dan David Prize for his outstanding contribution to the defense of democracy.
Awarded for innovative and interdisciplinary research, the annual Prize recognizes individuals and organizations whose humanistic, scientific and technological accomplishments represent remarkable achievements in selected fields. This year’s fields are Macro History, Defending Democracy and Combating Climate Change. Ignatieff shares the prize for Defending Democracy with fellow laureate, Reporters Without Borders, an organization based in France that promotes and defends press internationally.
“My first reaction was utter astonishment, followed by gratitude and then, since this is recognition for work done in defense of democracy, the feeling that I still have lots to do,” said Ignatieff.
The board of the Dan David Prize highlighted Ignatieff’s leadership as the President and Rector of CEU in Budapest, standing in the front lines against the campaign to stifle academic freedom, free expression and pluralism in the country.
“The liberal democratic order faces a rising tide of new authoritarianism and populism; the very values that have sustained freedom and democracy are called into question,” said Ariel David, a member of the Dan David Prize’s board and son of the Prize founder. “Professor Michael Ignatieff and Reporters Without Borders are being recognized for their leadership in the daily struggle to protect freedom of academia and freedom of the press. These basic liberties are pillars of democracy and it is no coincidence that the media and universities are often the primary targets of the populist and authoritarian regimes that have risen to power.”
Ignatieff and Reporters Without Borders, along with the three other laureates, will be honored at the 2019 Dan David Prize award ceremony at Tel Aviv University later this year. “I am especially delighted to be honored in Israel, and by a great Israeli university,” said Ignatieff.
The Dan David Prize awards a total of US$3 million to prize winners annually (US$1 million per field, to be shared equally where there is more than one winner).