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Understanding human dignity.

Named after distinguished American theologian Michael Novak, this $15,000 award rewards new outstanding scholarly research concerning the relationship between religion, economic freedom, and the free and virtuous society. This award recognizes those scholars early in their academic career who demonstrate outstanding intellectual merit in advancing the understanding of theology’s connection to human dignity, the importance of the rule of law, limited government, religious liberty, and freedom in economic life.

2016 Winner

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., May 17, 2016 – In recognition of his past and current academic success as well as a promising future in his career, Ryan Anderson is the recipient of the 2016 Novak Award.

Passionate researcher and writer on numerous topics such as religious liberty, Anderson is the William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow in American Principles and Public Policy at The Heritage Foundation. He is also the founder and editor of Public Discourse, the online journal of the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, New Jersey, and author of the recently released book Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom.


Scholars who have received a doctorate from an accredited domestic or international program in the previous five calendar years. Current doctoral candidates in the process of completing their dissertations are also eligible.

Nominees also must be studying theology, religion, economics, philosophy, business, or a related field.

Strong academic performance is essential.

Nominees must have a demonstrated interest in the relationship between religion, economic liberty, and the free and virtuous society. Important principles in this relationship include the recognition of human dignity, the importance of the rule of law, limited government, religious liberty, and freedom in economic life.

Nominees must display the potential to contribute to the advancement of a free and virtuous society.

The Novak Award is open to all qualified persons irrespective of race, sex, age, national or ethnic origin, citizenship, religious affiliation, or disability.


Include the following to be considered.

A signed application form [PDF] (must be completed in English). Applications are due on March 15.

A Curriculum vitae.

A 500-word essay that describes your intellectual development, future plans, and career goals. This statement should elaborate on the source and development of your interest in the ideas and principles listed above. Include how you expect to contribute to a better understanding or application of these ideas.

A research paper, refereed published article, or other scholarly work, such as a book, monograph, or a conference paper, on a theme relevant to religion and economic liberty or a related theme.

Two letters of recommendation from professors or other established scholars in your field.

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Mail the completed application materials to:

Acton Institute
Awards and Scholarships
98 East Fulton Street
Grand Rapids, MI 49503 USA

Past Winners