UNESCO Kalinga Prize for the Popularization of Science

The UNESCO Kalinga Prize for the Popularization of Science is an international distinction created by UNESCO in 1951 following a donation from Mr Bijoyanand Patnaik, Founder and President of the Kalinga Foundation Trust in India.

In today’s fast paced, ever changing world societies are faced with increasing challenges – from eradicating poverty to dealing with the impact of climate change. Science can be a vital tool in coming up with equitable and sustainable solutions for these challenges. By bridging the gap between scientists and the public the benefits of scientific knowledge can be used to improve daily lives, to widen understanding and to build on solutions to overcome local, regional and global challenges. Popularizing science includes all activities that communicate scientific knowledge and scientific methods to the public, outside the formal setting of classrooms. It encompasses museums, shows and fairs and work to promote public understanding of the history of science. To date, sixty-five individuals, from twenty-four countries have received this award. Six of whom have also been Nobel-Prize winners.

The purpose of the Prize is to reward the efforts of a person who has had a distinguished career as a writer, editor, lecturer, radio/television programme director or film producer, which has enabled him/her to help interpret science, research and technology to the public. He/she is expected to be knowledgeable of the role of science, technology and general research in the improvement of the public welfare, the enrichment of the cultural heritage of nations and the solutions to the problems of humanity either nationally, regionally or internationally. The objective of the Prize is in conformity with UNESCO’s policies and is related to the Programme of the Organization in the field of the raising awareness and popularizing of science. Many past Prize winners have been scientists in their own right, while others have been trained in journalism or have been educators or writers.

Candidates shall have made a significant contribution to the popularization of science. The Prize may be conferred only upon individuals. A work that has been produced by two or three persons shall not be considered.

Nominations shall be submitted to the Director-General by the governments of Member States, in consultation with their National Commissions, and by non-governmental organizations maintaining official partnerships with UNESCO. A self-nomination cannot be considered. Each Member State and non-governmental organization may designate one candidate.

The laureate is selected by the Director-General of UNESCO upon the recommendation of a five-member Jury. The Jury is designated by the Director-General on the basis of equitable gender and geographical distribution.

As of 2009 the Prize has been awarded biennially rather than annually in the same year as the UNESCO General Conference (every odd year). The Prize is awarded by the Director-General during an official ceremony where the prize-winner is presented with a cheque for the amount of US$ 20,000, a certificate and the UNESCO-Albert Einstein silver medal.

The laureate is also offered the Kalinga Chair, established by the Government of India (Department of Science and Technology), which comprises a certificate and cash award of US$ 5,000. He/she will be invited to travel to India (travel and lodgings will be funded by the Government of India), for a two to four week period to interact with scientists and science communicators. He/she will be provided with appropriate facilities to familiarize him/herself with Indian life and culture, Indian research and educational institutions, and the development of India’s industry and economy. He/she will also be invited to visit Indian universities and attend meetings within India’s scientific societies, particularly those of the Indian Science Congress Association. While in India, the recipient will be asked to deliver lectures in English and to take part in meetings in order to present recent progress in science and technology as well as the social, cultural and educational impacts of modern science. Thus, he/she should preferably be proficient in English.

The Kalinga Prize for the Popularization of Science is administered by the Division for Science Policy and Capacity-Building.

For further information, contact Yoslan Nur

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