Professor Ronald Inglehart (University of Michigan) and Pippa Norris (John F. Kennedy School at Harvard University) received the Skytte Prize at a ceremony held at Uppsala University in Sweden from September 23-25, 2011. The Skytte Foundation awards the prize annually to the scholar “who in the view of the Foundation has made the most valuable contribution to political science.”
Inglehart and Norris co-authored three books and have collaborated on many articles that highlight the importance of human values and value change for political behavior and societal life. According to the Foundation, they share the prize for “contributing innovative ideas about the relevance and roots of political culture in a global context, transcending previous mainstream approaches of research.”
Uppsala is a beautiful old town that preceded Stockholm as the capital of Sweden and is still the seat of the Church of Sweden and the oldest university in Sweden.
Johan Skytte was arguably the world’s first professor of political science, when he was appointed professor of eloquence and government at Uppsala University in 1622. He was a protege of the king of Sweden, a commoner who was educated at the king's expense in several European universities. He served as tutor to the future king Gustav Adolphus, became a member of the Royal Council and a nobleman, and was later governor of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Ingerland. There are two theories about why Skytte was so strongly supported by the King of Sweden:
• He was exceptionally intelligent.
• He was an illegitimate son of the king (whom he resembled).
Leading scholars think that both theories may be correct.
Ceremonies lasted three full days.
• On Friday, Professors Inglehart and Norris presented papers at the University.
• On Saturday they visited the cathedral where they laid a wreath at the tomb of Johan Skytte. Later that day, they gave the Skytte lecture (which will be published in Scandinavian Political Studies) and received the actual award – silver medals and checks - at a large banquet.
• On Sunday, Count Moerner (a descendant of Johan Skytte) hosted a tour of the surrounding countryside and a visit to Skytte’s castle where they saw a tree planted by Skytte himself.
“Although Sweden is a social democratic country, it has strong traditions. The ceremonies on Saturday started with a procession led by the heads of the student corps, carrying the flags of their corps. Men wore tails and the women wore long evening gowns and gloves, and all of them wore the white caps of the student corps,” said Professor Inglehart.
Professor Inglehart is currently in St. Petersburg, directing the Laboratory of Comparative Social Research at the Higher School of Economics, a national research university in Russia. He will return to Ann Arbor in late December.