CAMBRIDGE, MA – An eminent nuclear physicist and a pair of renowned social scientists from the University of Pennsylvania are recipients of the Harvard Kennedy School 2017 Richard E. Neustadt and Thomas C. Schelling Awards. The awards will be presented April 6 during a ceremony in Cambridge hosted by Harvard Kennedy School Dean Douglas Elmendorf.

Ernest Moniz, formerly the U.S. Secretary of Energy, will receive the Richard E. Neustadt Award. The award is bestowed annually to honor individuals who have created exceptional solutions to significant problems in public policy. Past recipients include Navanethem (Navi) Pillay in 2016, former Irish President Mary Robinson in 2015, former U.S. Senators Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Sam Nunn (D-GA) in 2013, William “Bill” Drayton in 2012, Paul Volcker in 2011, Alice Rivlin in 2009, Gro Harlem Brundtland in 2008, and Muhammad Yunus in 2006.

Barbara Mellers, the I. George Heyman University Professor at the University of Pennsylvaniaand Philip Tetlock, the Annenberg University Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, will be presented with the Thomas C. Schelling Award, bestowed annually to individuals whose remarkable intellectual work has had a transformative impact on public policy. Past recipients include Stanley Fischer in 2016, William Nordhaus in 2015, Sara McLanahan in 2013, Amartya Sen in 2012, Esther Duflo in 2011, Harold Varmus in 2009, Daniel Kahneman in 2006, and Richard Posner in 2005.

Support for the awards has been provided by the David Rubenstein Fund for Kennedy School Excellence. The fund was established in 2004 by a generous gift from David M. Rubenstein, a co-founder and co-CEO of The Carlyle Group, one of the world’s largest private equity firms.

“We are excited to honor this year’s award recipients and the extraordinary contributions they have made toward addressing the great challenges confronting our world,” said Dean Elmendorf. “The Neustadt and Schelling awards are named after two extraordinary visionaries who were instrumental in creating the modern Kennedy School as a place designed to inspire leaders and ideas. It is therefore fitting to honor this year’s winners for their remarkable achievements.” 

Ernest Moniz served as the United States Secretary of Energy from 2013 to 2017. As Secretary, he advanced energy technology innovation, nuclear security and strategic stability, cutting-edge capacities for the American scientific community, and environmental stewardship. He strengthened the Department of Energy’s (DOE) strategic partnerships with its 17 national laboratories and with the Department of Defense and the broader national security establishment. Moniz previously served in the federal government as DOE Under Secretary from 1997 until 2001 with science, energy and nuclear security responsibilities, and from 1995 until 1997 as Associate Director for Science in the Office of Science and Technology Policy with responsibility for the physical, life and social sciences. He was a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and of the Defense Threat Reduction Advisory Committee from 2009 to 2013. Moniz served on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology faculty from 1973 until becoming Secretary of Energy in 2013.   

Barbara Mellers is the I. George Heyman University Professor at the University of Pennsylvania with cross appointments in the Wharton School and the School of Arts and Sciences. She was trained in quantitative psychology and does research on judgment and decision making. For years, she explored models of when and why we violate principles of rationality. She investigated what underlies perceptions of fairness, why our emotions influence choices, and how seemingly unimportant variables, such as the context around a stimulus and the phrasing of a question, can shape judgments and choice. Currently, she studies ways to improve predictions, judgments, and decisions. By examining human forecasts for many years over a wide range of events, she and her colleagues have discovered how to make human forecasts more accurate.

Philip E. Tetlock is the Annenberg University Professor at the University of Pennsylvania with appointments in the Wharton School and the School of Arts and Sciences. His work addresses a wide range of topics, including cognitive biases, accountability systems, value conflict, and taboo trade-offs. He has received awards from many scientific societies, including the American Psychological Association, the American Political Science Association, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His most recent work focuses on forecasting tournaments and their potential to improve accuracy and to depolarize unnecessarily polarized debates. He is the author of Superforecasting which tells the story of how the Good Judgment Project won a series of forecasting tournaments sponsored and monitored by the U.S. intelligence community.

The selection committee for the 2017 Neustadt and Schelling Awards comprised:

  • Vartan Gregorian (chair), president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York; president of Brown University (1989-97); founding dean (1974) and provost (1978-81) of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, University of Pennsylvania; and president of the New York Public Library (1981-89).
  • R. Glenn Hubbard, Russell L. Carson Professor of Finance and Economics and dean of the Columbia University Business School; and chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers (2001-03).
  • Nannerl Keohane, president emerita of Wellesley College (1981-93) and Duke University (1993-2004).
  • Donna Shalala, president of the Clinton Foundation; president of the University of Miami (2001-15); and secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (1993-2001).
  • Paul Volcker, chairman of The Volcker Alliance; chairman of the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board (2009-11); and chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (1979-87).

Richard Neustadt was the Douglas Dillon Professor of Government at Harvard Kennedy School. He was an eminent presidential scholar and advisor to three U.S. presidents. He served as founding director of the Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School (from 1965 to 1971) and as associate dean of the Kennedy School until 1975. He died in November 2003.

Thomas Schelling was the Lucius N. Littauer Professor of Political Economy at Harvard Kennedy School. He was internationally renowned for his work on game theory, specifically in regards to the dangers of nuclear war, and received the 2005 Nobel Prize for Economics. He held various positions in the Executive Office of the President and most recently served as Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy. He died in December 2016.


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