Harvard Professor Michael J. Sandel, Princess of Asturias Award in Social Sciences 2018.

October 19, 2018

The Jury of the Princess of Asturias Award in Social Sciences 2018, gathered in the city of Oviedo on May 30th, 2018. Chaired by Carmen Iglesias Cano, Professor of the History of Ideas and Political Regimes at Complutense University, the Jury decided to grant the Princess of Asturias Award in Social Sciences 2018 to Michael J. Sandel, the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government Theory, of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University.

On Friday, October 19th, Prof. Sandel received the award in a solemn ceremony held at Teatro Campoamor in Oviedo. The ceremony was presided by the King and Queen of Spain. This Saturday, October 20th, Sandel will meet students from the University of Oviedo in an encounter moderated by the director of the Philosophy Department of the University, Armando Menendez Viso.


With this award, the Jury recognizes this Harvard Professor of political philosophy for his exemplary body of work about the normative foundations of liberal democracy and the defense of public virtue and the pluralistic conceptions of good in our societies. Apart from his public vision of justice, his work stands out for his critique on the excesses of the market economy and for promoting debate as the way to solve the most important moral dilemmas.

The Princess of Asturias Foundation contributes to the promotion of all scientific, cultural and humanistic values and, in keeping with these virtues, the award for Social Sciences celebrates ‘exemplary work on, among other topics, liberal democracy and the defence of public virtues.

HM King Felipe VI of Spain has been the Honorary President of the Foundation since its creation in 1980. After he was crowned King of Spain on June 19, 2014, HRH Leonor de Borbón y Ortiz, Princess of Asturias is the Honorary President of this Institution. HM King Felipe VI is also the Honorary President of our Institution, Real Colegio Complutense at Harvard.

Sandel is an example of the public use of reason in searching for the truth. His worldwide prestige comes from being able to translate his dialectic and deliberative approach to the global debate. Beyond the classroom and the printed word, his use of the Socratic method of instruction is widely popular in multiple online platforms. The jury also highlighted the importance of citizens´ commitment to democratic value and the relevance of deliberating together in order to solve our differences as a society.

On receiving the award, Michael Sandel stated: ‘I am deeply honored to receive the Princess of Asturias Award for Social Sciences. At a time when civil discourse and mutual respect face hard times around the world, the humanistic ideals for which the Princess of Asturias Foundation stands matter more than ever. I am proud to be associated with the Foundation's mission of promoting cultural understanding and pluralist ideals. The award is all the more meaningful given a close family connection to Spain. My wife Kiku Adatto comes from the Sephardic Jewish community that was expelled from Seville in 1492 but continued to speak Ladino and to regard Spain as their spiritual homeland. In recognition of this history, Spain recently invited Sephardic Jews around the world to apply for Spanish citizenship. I heard the news of the Princess of Asturias Award at the very moment when Kiku and our sons are preparing the documents to apply for Spanish citizenship. Receiving this award from Spain has a special meaning in light of my family's Sephardic heritage.'