Professor Amartya Sen is awarded the 2017 Johan Skytte Prize

Amartya Sen, Thomas W. Lamont Professor at Harvard University, wins the 23rd Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science. Sen is awarded the Prize for his multifaceted achievement that “combines insights into human vulnerability with knowledge about the potential of democratic political power to redress and relieve this deprivation.”
Sen, who originates from West Bengal, has spent most of his professional career at Universities of Cambridge and Harvard, all while retaining an affiliation with Delhi University in his native India. In 1998, he was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences and he has used the award to start the Pratichi Trust in India and Bangladesh that works to improve women’s access to education and health care.
Sen is an economist by training but his conviction that democratic institutions play a fundamental role in making a difference in people’s lives makes him a worthy recipient of this highly esteemed Prize in Political Science. His notable scholarly works include Poverty and Famines (1981) where he explores the link between famine and lack of democracy and highlights the crucial role democracy plays in alievating extreme poverty. In Development as Freedom (1999), he argues that political, social and economic freedoms are both the means and the ends of development. He sees development not only in one’s material wellbeing but also one’s ability to make free choices and act independently on them. In his 2009 book, The Idea of Justice, Sen addresses questions of how justice may be increased or how injustices may be removed, rather than offering resolutions of questions about the nature of perfect justice. Sen’s contribution spans the fields of political economy, social choice theory, public health, political philosophy, as well as the sub-discipline of development studies.
The 2017 Prize will be awarded at a traditional ceremony which will take place in Uppsala on September 30, 2017. The ceremony will be accompanied by Prize winner lecture open to the wide public. More information about public lectures and other activities related to this year’s Skytte prize award can be found here.  
Click here to access the official Prize award announcement article penned by the chairperson of the Skytte Prize Committee, Li Bennich-Björkman, and featured in the Swedish daily newspaper, Svenska Dagbladet. An English translation of the article can be found here
To read the official press release issued by Uppsala University, click here for an English version and here for the Swedish one. 
We welcome you to continue submitting online nominations through our nomination form, which is open all year round. Nominations submitted until January 15, 2018 will be considered for the 2018 Johan Skytte Prize. Make sure to nominate your favourite if he/she has not received the Prize yet. 
Should you have any questions, contact our Information Officer at and do not forget to “like” the Prize on Facebook


Prize winners over the years


Be advised that we accept nominations for the Johan Skytte Prize all year round. We, however, only consider those we receive by January 15 each year for that year’s Prize. The prize winner is announced in early April every year.

For detailed description of what is required for a good nomination, click HERE.

Should you have any questions about the nomination process, contact Michal Smrek at



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The festive Prize Award Ceremony takes place at Uppsala University where Johan Skytte was once a chancellor. The ceremony by custom takes place on the last weekend before October 1, the date when Johan Skytte donated considerable funds to Uppsala University to found a professor’s chair in Political Science and Eloquence in 1622.
The festivities that traditionally combine academic and social events start on Friday with an academic seminar at the Department of Government, Uppsala University. In the evening, the Skytte Foundation hosts a dinner for the Prize Winner, the Prize Committee and the previous holder(s) of the Johan Skytte Professorship in Political Science.
Saturday is the main celebration day, starting in the afternoon with a wrath-laying ceremony at the tomb of Johan Skytte in Uppsala Cathedral accompanied by music composed specially for this occasion by the famous musician and director of Uppsala University orchestra, Ulf Johansson Werre. Thereafter the Prize Winner gives the Prize Award Lecture (Johan Skytte Lecture). This event is open to the public and traditionally held at the University Main Building. The lecture is followed by the Skytte Banquet, a formal dinner at one of the student nations where around 150 invited guests, including royals and other notable public figures, gather for celebrations. At the banquet, the Prize Winner is presented with a medal and portrait.
The festivities come to an end on Sunday with an excursion organised by the Skytte Foundation and lead by the patron of the Foundation, Count Nils-Axel Mörner. The excursion pays homage to Johan Skytte and the highlight of it is a visit to the beautiful Grönsöö Castle by lake Mälaren built by Johan Skytte himself. Today, the Von Ehrenheim family inhabits the castle.
Representatives of the media are welcome to attend every event of the official programme provided that they register their interest with our Information Officer, Michal Smrek at Michal will also assist the media to schedule an interview with the Prize Winner if requested.

Skytte Manuscript Workshop

Skytte Manuscript Workshop is an annual scholarly event inspired by Johan Skytte’s legacy in facilitating the progress of Political Science. The event gathers a group of prominent Swedish and international researchers for a three-day workshop the aim of which is to discuss a manuscript that aims to significantly contribute to the field of Political Science. This gives the authors an immense opportunity to gather valuable feedback from experts in their field and improve their manuscripts before publication.
Every year the chairman of the Skytte Prize Committee appoints a workshop coordinator most commonly from among the faculty of the Department of Government, Uppsala University, who is in charge of selecting a suitable manuscript and organising the workshop. The workshop usually takes place at the same time as the Skytte Prize award ceremony which is held in late September every year.
Over the years, a number of well-cited publications that benefited from the workshop have been published. These include One Illness Away (Oxford University Press, 2011) by Anirudh Krishna, What’s Wrong with the WTO and How to Fix It (Polity, 2014) by Rorden Wilkinson, Patronal Politics: Eurasian Regime Dynamics in Comparative Perspective (Cambridge University Press, 2014) by Henry Hale, Fulfilling Social and Economic Rights (Oxford University Press, 2015) by Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, Terra Lawson-Remer and Susan Randolph and Communism’s Shadow: Historical Legacies and Contemporary Political Attitudes (Princeton University Press, 2017) by Grigore Pop-Eleches and Joshua A. Tucker.

The foundation covers the travel tickets and board for all participants who are in part selected by the authors of the manuscript and part by the workshop coordinator. Our aim is to host one workshop annually if resources permit. Should you be interested in taking part in the workshop as an author of a manuscript or workshop coordinator, contact Michal Smrek.

The Johan Skytte Foundation

In 1622, Johan Skytte donated a considerable sum to Uppsala University to found a professorship in Political Science and Eloquence. Johan Skytte, by then a leading statesman within the Swedish Realm and vice-chancellor of Uppsala University, believed that while Sweden usually excelled at the field of battle, she tended to underperform at the negotiation table, something Johan Skytte was determined the new chair at Uppsala University could help to change. Over the years, the donation that was intended to be independent has become part of Uppsala University’s collective assets and funds. In 1979, the patron of the Skytte Foundation, Count Nils-Axel Mörner, demanded and campaigned for the restoration of an independent Foundation that would guard Johan Skytte’s assets. This request was granted and the Skytte Foundation began its new chapter.
The restoration of Foundation’s independence saw a considerable amount of funds and assets returned under the management of the Foundation. The newly appointed board agreed that the money should be used in a wise and constructive manner, and – in one way or another, in memory of Johan Skytte. In 1994, the idea of a Prize in Political Science was born, a brainchild of the patron of the Foundation, Nils-Axel Mörner and then Johan Skytte Professor, Leif Lewin. From 1994 until today, 22 prominent Political Scientists have been awarded the Prize that marks most remarkable achievements within the field of Political Science. The Prize grew in prestige over the years and has been likened to the Nobel Prizes in terms of importance and role model potential.
In addition to the Skytte Prize, the Foundation runs its own publishing house. Its most recent publication is an excellent resource mapping the histories of Johan Skytte, his donation and 20 Skytte Prize Winners. The publication authored by Nils-Axel Mörner and Li Bennich-Björkman marks the 20th anniversary of the Skytte Prize. The book is free of charge and you can download it here or request in writing to Michal Smrek. The Foundation also sponsors various academic events.
In preparations for the 400th anniversary of the Foundation in 2022, the Foundation unveiled a new logo and launched a new website. It will also gradually expand its activities to include, among others, a Youth Johan Skytte Prize for young scientists.
The Foundation is governed by a 6-strong board, including the patron, Count Nils-Axel Mörner, current Skytte Professor of Political Science, Li Bennich-Björkman, vice-chancellor of Uppsala University, Eva Åkesson, treasurer Anders Barth, secretary Jonas Mörner and economist Jacob Lagercrantz. The board is assisted by information officer, Michal Smrek, who takes care of the website, nominations and public relations; and master of ceremonies, Åsa Viksten Strömbom, responsible for the banquet and all the festivities.

Who was Johan Skytte

Johan Skytte, born to a middle-class merchant and mayor of a small Swedish town, quickly rose through the echelons of power to become one of the most influential Swedish statesmen of the 17th Century. He obtained his Master’s degree from Marburg University in Germany and went on to become a tutor of the Crown Prince, at that time a remarkable honour for someone with a middle-class background. He was swiftly promoted to join the ranks of the nobles and served as a councilor to the Crown on many occasions.
During Skytte’s life, Sweden emerged as a great power, and it thus became of fundamental importance to improve her educational system. On this front, Skytte came to play a central role. He was a deeply learned person, a master in eloquence and a person of great interest and skill in didactics and made it his personal mission to improve the Swedish educational system. In 1622, he was appointed vice-chancellor of Uppsala University, an institutions he helped to modernise. The same year, he donated a considerable sum to the University to set up a professorship in Political Science and Eloquence in a belief that teaching these in concord would help Sweden further her political power. His educational technique was built on inspiration rather than demands, which was very progressive for the period.
In 1629, Johan Skytte was appointed Governor General of the Baltic provinces of Livonia and Karelia and continued with his educational mission there. In 1631, he helped to establish and later chair the University of Tartu, which became the second oldest University in Sweden.
Johan Skytte’s involvement in education was not only limited to University level. He also helped to or directly established several ordinary schools, for instance a school in Lycksele in Northern Sweden in 1631 or the first rural school in Sweden in Ålem in 1637. The Royal Skytte Society in Umeå, established in 1956, was named after Johan Skytte in appreciation of his impact on education in the northern parts of Sweden.
The Johan Skytte Foundation aims to preserve and further the educational legacy of Johan Skytte. The Johan Skytte Prize aspires to identify the most valuable contributions to Political Science and thus help to further the discipline and encourage innovative research within the field.

The Committee

Li Bennich-Björkman
Johan Skytte Professor in Political Science and Eloquence, Uppsala University, chair
Lise Rakner
Professor, University of Bergen
Jörgen Hermansson
Professor in Political Science, Uppsala University
Øyvind Østerud
Professor in International Conflict Studies, University of Oslo
Vello Pettai
Professor of Comparative Politics, Johan Skytte Institute, Tartu University
Donatella della Porta
Professor of Political Science and Sociology, Scuola Normale Superiore Florence


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Address: Skytteanum, Valvgatan 4, 753 10 Uppsala, Sweden
Telephone: 0046 700664926. Email: