Social Science Research Council to Present 2016 Hirschman Prize to Amartya Sen April 19

Public Ceremony Hosted by Institute for Advanced Study

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Christine Ferrara
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The Social Science Research Council (SSRC) will present the 2016 Albert O. Hirschman Prize to Amartya Sen on April 19 in Wolfensohn Hall at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., 5:00–7:00 p.m.

In addition to the award presentation, the evening will feature introductory remarks by Didier Fassin, James D. Wolfensohn Professor in the School of Social Science at the Institute, and an engaging dialogue between Professor Sen and Ira Katznelson, president of the SSRC, reflecting on Sen’s impact in the fields of economics and human development.

Sen, the 1998 Nobel Prize winner in economics, is currently Thomas W. Lamont University Professor and professor of economics and philosophy at Harvard. He has also held professorships at Oxford, the London School of Economics, and Jadavpur University in Calcutta and the Delhi School of Economics in his native India.

“This award does more than honor a profound scholar,” said SSRC president Ira Katznelson, “as it signals the standards and ambitions that animate the Council’s work.”

Professor Sen is acclaimed for his groundbreaking interdisciplinary work, encompassing social choice theory, welfare economics, measurement, rationality, famines, gender, growth and distribution, economic development, policy analysis, education, labor, population, public health, social justice, ethics, and legal philosophy, as well as Indian economics and society.

In selecting Sen, the Hirschman Prize Committee cited him as “one of the foremost economists of our times, a scholar and public intellectual of striking depth and breadth, comfortable not only with the scholarly apparatus of his profession but also with the deep philosophical and ethical implications of the economist’s practice and the practical consequences of their analyses for global challenges of hunger, famine, and inequality.”

Regarding the Committee's selection of Amartya Sen, Fassin said, “Sen possesses the breadth of interests, the interdisciplinary approach to problems, and the ethical engagement in the world which exemplify Albert O. Hirschman’s legacy in the social sciences."

Sen’s contributions to the evaluation of human well-being and development, looking far beyond just gross domestic product (GDP), are considered pioneering. Upon awarding Sen the 1998 Nobel Prize in economics, the Nobel Committee cited Sen’s work in research into fundamental problems of welfare economics, tied together by “a particular interest in the most impoverished members of society.”

Sen is the author of 23 books, including Poverty and Famines (1981), Rationality and Freedom (2002), The Idea of Justice (2009), An Uncertain Glory: India and Its Contradictions (jointly with Jean Drèze, 2013), and, most recently, The Country of First Boys (2015).

First awarded in 2007, Hirschman Prize recipients include Dani Roderick, Charles Tilly, Benedict Anderson, and Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL). The selection committee for this year’s Hirschman Prize was comprised of chair Peter Lange (Duke University), Julia Adams (Yale University), and Hirschman’s biographer Jeremy Adelman (Princeton University). The Hirschman Prize is accompanied by a $10,000 cash award.

Awarded every two years, the Albert O. Hirschman Prize is the highest honor of the Social Science Research Council. It recognizes excellence in research, theory, and public communication, in the tradition of German-born American economist Albert Hirschman’s pioneering role in social science and public policy. Hirschman, who came to the Institute as a Member in the School of Social Science in 1972, became a Professor in 1974, and remained on the IAS Faculty until his death in 2012. Exploring theory and practice, the history of ideas—economic, social, or political—and innovative approaches to fostering growth, Hirschman saw scholarship both as a tool for social change and as an inherent value in a world in need of better understanding. For more information on the Hirschman Prize, visit

This event is free and open to the public, but registration is requested:

About the Social Science Research Council

The Social Science Research Council (SSRC) is an independent, international non-profit with the mission of mobilizing social science to disseminate essential knowledge. Founded in 1923, the SSRC fosters innovative research, nurtures new generations of social scientists, deepens how inquiry is practiced within and across disciplines, and mobilizes necessary knowledge on important public issues. Based in Brooklyn, NY, the SSRC currently administers 22 programs in the U.S. and around the world. For more information on the SSRC and its programs, please visit

About the Institute

The Institute for Advanced Study, founded in 1930 as an independent institution in Princeton, New Jersey, is one of the world’s leading centers for basic research in the sciences and humanities, where the permanent faculty and visiting scholars have the freedom to pursue some of the deepest theoretical questions without pressure for immediate outcomes. Its reach has been multiplied many times over through the more than 7,000 scholars who have influenced entire fields of study as well as the work and minds of colleagues and students. For more information, please visit