Globe, the Graduate Institute Review
08 November 2022

Michael Sandel Receives the 2022 Edgar de Picciotto International Prize

The 2022 Edgar de Picciotto International Prize was awarded to Michael Sandel during the opening lecture of the academic year on 22 September. On this occasion, Professor Sandel delivered a keynote lecture entitled “The Tyranny of Merit: Can We Find the Common Good?” He argued that to overcome the crises that are upending our world, we must rethink the attitudes toward success and failure that have accompanied globalisation and rising inequality. 

Professor Sandel is one of the world’s most distinguished political philosophers. When put together, his many books and contributions are lifting our veil of ignorance on structuring pillars of our contemporary society – freedom, markets, justice and more recently merit. His apparently time- and space-less exploration of philosophical concepts brings to light in reality their historical and geographical contextualisation and re-contextualisation – and is a strong commentary on our contemporary society and its ills. He has built through the years a powerful toolbox for the critical assessment of our current life and institutional choices. And in the process, he has made it possible to envision and explore alternatives and to enter the path of realist utopia that the urgency of our challenges is clearly calling for. It is a great chance for our community to start the new academic year with such a broad and systemic commentary on the world as it is and as it could be. The kind of political philosophy that is deployed by Michael Sandel is profoundly aligned with our own intellectual identity at the Institute – critical thinking, integrated transdisciplinarity, and a constructive projection towards common good challenges and a better world.

Marie-Laure Salles, Director of the Geneva Graduate Institute

Michael Sandel teaches political philosophy at Harvard University. His latest book, The Tyranny of Merit: Can We Find the Common Good?, was named best book of the year by The Guardian, Bloomberg, New Statesman, The Times Literary Supplement, Le Point (Paris), and New Weekly (Beijing). He has been a Visiting Professor at the Sorbonne and delivered the Tanner Lectures on Human Values at Oxford. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The Edgar de Picciotto International Prize was created as a tribute and token of thanks to Edgar de Picciotto who, along with his family, gifted a generous contribution for the realisation of the Edgar and Danièle de Picciotto Student Residence, which houses students coming from all over the world to study at the Institute. The Prize, awarded every two years, is intended to reward an internationally renowned academic whose research has contributed to the understanding of global challenges and whose work has influenced policymakers. 

The prize was awarded the first time in 2012 to Amartya Sen, 1998 winner of the Nobel Prize for economics, in 2014 to Saul Friedländer, Emeritus Professor at the University of California Los Angeles and recipient of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize, in 2016 to Paul Krugman, winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Economics, in 2018 to Joan Wallach Scott, Emerita Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University, and in 2020 to Saskia Sassen, Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology at Columbia University.

This article was published in Globe #30, the Institute Review. 

22 September 2022| During the opening lecture of the academic year, Michael Sandel explores the central question of our time: What has become of the common good?
This episode of In Conversation With features a conversation between Michael Sandel, the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government Theory at Harvard University, and Marie-Laure Salles, Director of the Geneva Graduate Institute.