News Release

2015 International Balzan Prizes awarded to 3 Americans

750,000 Swiss francs (approximately 700,000 euros; $770,000; 500,000 GBP) for each of the 4 subjects

Grant and Award Announcement

Gold Communications

Milan, 7 September 2015 - The names of the 2015 Balzan Prizewinners were disclosed today in a public announcement:

HANS BELTING (Germany), Staatliche Hochschule fur Gestaltung, Karlsruhe, for History of European Art (1300-1700)
JOEL MOKYR (USA/Israel), Northwestern University (Illinois), for Economic History
FRANCIS HALZEN (USA), University of Wisconsin-Madison, for Astroparticle Physics including neutrino and gamma-ray observation
DAVID KARL (USA), University of Hawaii, for Oceanography.

The Balzan Prizewinners 2015 were announced today in Milan by the Chairman of the Balzan General Prize Committee, Salvatore Veca, together with the President of the Balzan Prize Foundation, Enrico Decleva, at the Corriere della Sera Foundation. The profiles of the winners and the citations were presented by four prestigious members of the General Prize Committee.

The Prizes will be presented during the award ceremony to be held in Bern on November 13..The amount of each prize is 750,000 Swiss Francs (approx. 700,000 Euros; $770,000; 500,000 GBP)

Victor Stoichita (Chair of Modern Art History at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland; Foreign Fellow of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Rome) read the citation for the assignment of the Prize for History of European Art (1300-1700) to Hans Belting: For his remarkable contribution to the study of the visible and the function of images in the Western world. For the originality of his approach to interpreting works of art at the junction of cultures and periods. For his commitment to the study of artistic languages and its impact on contemporary artistic creation.

Thomas Maissen (Director of the German Historical Institute in Paris; Chair in Early Modern History at the University of Heidelberg; Member of the Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften) read the citation for the assignment of the Prize for Economic History to Joel Mokyr:: For his pioneering connection of economics and history with evolutionary and epistemological theory and the development of knowledge and technology; for permitting a new, comparative view of economic development and industrialization in particular in the West, which appear as the product of the Enlightenment and the specific institutional environment of Great Britain; for the variety of content, themes, and methods of his work, which ranges from the cliometrics of the New Economic History to the qualitative interpretation of ground-breaking texts, and avoids monocausal explanations.

Luciano Maiani (Professor Emeritus of Theoretical Physics at the University La Sapienza, Rome; Fellow of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Rome, and of the American Physical Society) read the citation for the assignment of the Prize for Astroparticle Physics including neutrino and gamma-ray observation to Francis Halzen: for his unparalleled accomplishments which have led to the construction of the large IceCube Neutrino Observatory in the south polar ice, a facility that has opened up a new window into the Universe through the study of cosmological high-energy neutrinos.

Enric Banda (Research Professor of Geophysics at the Institute of Earth Sciences in Barcelona, Spanish Council for Scientific Research) read the citation for the assignment of the Prize for Oceanography to David Karl: For his fundamental contributions to the understanding of the role and immense importance of microorganisms in the ocean, and of how microorganisms and phytoplankton control the oceanic carbon, nitrogen and iron cycles, work that has yielded significant insights into global change.

The President of the General Prize Committee, Professor Salvatore Veca, announced that the 2016 Balzan Prizes will be awarded in the following fields:

  • Comparative Literature
  • International Relations: History and Theory
  • Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, including neurodegenerative and developmental aspects
  • Applied Photonics.

The amount of each of the four 2016 Balzan Prizes will be 750,000 Swiss Francs.

The subject areas of the prizes are either specific or interdisciplinary fields, in the humanities (literature, the moral sciences and the arts) and in the sciences (medicine and the physical, mathematical and natural sciences). They vary each year so as to recognize emerging fields and give priority to innovative research.

Half of the amount received by the winner of each of the four prizes must be destined to research work, preferably involving young scholars and researchers.


The International Balzan Foundation, founded in 1957, operates through two separate institutions. The International Balzan Foundation Prize (chaired in Milan by Enrico Decleva) selects the subjects to be awarded and the candidates through its General Prize Committee. The Balzan Foundation "Fund" (chaired in Zurich by Achille Casanova) administers the estate left by Eugenio Balzan, so as to place at the disposal of the International Balzan Foundation Prize the necessary financial means to realize its objective.

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