News Release

2016 World Cultural Council Awards

Albert Einstein World Award of Science and Jose Vasconcelos World Award of Education 2016

Grant and Award Announcement

Consejo Cultural Mundial

2016 World Cultural Council Awards

image: Official banner for the announcement of the 2016 World Cultural Council Awards. view more 

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Professor Edward Witten, Charles Simonyi Professor, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey, USA, has been selected as the winner of the ALBERT EINSTEIN World Award of Science 2016.

During the selection process, members of the Interdisciplinary Committee highlighted Professor Witten's visionary research that affects our fundamental understanding of all physical interactions. This outstanding work has been done by spanning the two contrasting disciplines of mathematics and pure physics and has opened new fields of research that transcend disciplinary boundaries.

Professor Witten's achievements fulfil the criteria for the ALBERT EINSTEIN World Award of Science because of their remarkable contributions to human thought and scholarship. The World Cultural Council acknowledges his persistence, breakthrough creativity and commitment to learning as an invaluable service to mankind and as an inspirational example for future generations.

Professor Edward Witten received his B.A. from Brandeis University in 1971 and his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1976; he is Charles Simonyi Professor at the School of Natural Sciences, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ, USA.

Edward Witten's research is distinct, not only for its calibre but also for its deftness in navigating the perceived divide between pure physics and mathematics, enriching both fields in new and unforeseen ways. His ability to bridge two these contrasting disciplines has made him a world scientific leader and his achievements are a landmark in the academic world.

Probably best known for his seminal contributions to the modern interest in superstrings as a candidate theory for the unification of all known physical interactions, Witten played an influential role in the 1980s, showing how to derive semi-realistic models of particle physics from string theory. In the following decade, his work on duality and the strong coupling behaviour of string theory was highly significant. He is also known for numerous results in quantum field theory and the Standard Model of particle physics, sometimes using string theory methods.

Professor Witten's contributions to mathematics have also been noteworthy. He is known, among other things, for his novel approaches to Morse theory, the Jones polynomial, and the positive energy theorem of General Relativity; for his work on the intersection theory in moduli spaces; and for the Seiberg-Witten invariants of four-manifolds and their relation to Donaldson invariants.

He is a member of numerous academic societies, including the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the National Academy of Sciences, and, as a foreign member, the Royal Society of London and the Académie des Sciences of the Institut de France.

Professor Witten has also been honoured with a MacArthur Fellowship (1982), the Dirac Prize and Medal of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (1985), the Dannie Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics (1998), the Nemmers Prize in Mathematics (2000), the National Medal of Science (2003), the Henri Poincaré Prize (2006), the Crafoord Prize in Mathematics (2008), the Lorentz Medal of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (2010), the Isaac Newton Medal of the Institute of Physics (2010), the Fundamental Physics Prize (2012), the Kyoto Prize in Basic Sciences (2014), and the APS Medal for Exceptional Achievement in Research (2015).

Witten is the author of over 300 scientific papers and is the first and only physicist to have been awarded a Fields Medal, the highest honour that can be bestowed on a mathematician.

"Most people say that is it is the intellect which makes a great scientist. They are wrong: it is character". Albert Einstein

Professor Kalevi Ekman

The JOSE VASCONCELOS World Award of Education 2016 will be awarded to Professor Kalevi Ekman, Professor of Machine Design, School of Engineering, Aalto University, Finland. This prize recognizes his international and productive humanistic approach to education and his visionary and inspiring ideas on the Design Factory Concept as outstanding educational methodology.

The prize further acknowledges Professor Ekman's relentless efforts as a mentor and teacher and his passion for fostering learning, multidisciplinarity and cross-cultural cooperation.

Kalevi Ekman, Professor of the Machine Design, School of Engineering at Aalto University, is the visionary, founder and driving force behind the Global Design Factory Network, which currently links ten design factories on five continents. For 20 years "Eetu", as he is known, has pioneered methods designed to engage students in the education process, foster multi-disciplinarily, spark entrepreneurship, promote teamwork and enhance multi-culturalism.

The roots of the Design Factory concept date back to 1997 when Professor Ekman began exploring ways of bringing industrial design students together with machine design students to solve real-life challenges provided by industrial partners. Collaborative work continued and Aalto Design Factory was eventually founded on October 2008.

The actors involved in the Design Factory Network represent diverse fields, ranging from science, engineering, business and design, through to the arts and humanities.

For students, the Design Factory provides a holistic experience characterized by real-life challenges in a relaxed but enthusiastic atmosphere, with genuine teamwork and daily international collaboration. For the business community, the factory is an innovative environment for finding, incubating and implementing new ideas. Meanwhile, for researchers, the Design Factory offers unique opportunities to carry out open-ended research initiatives challenging the industrial status quo.

The success of the Design Factory can be partially measured by the fact that the methods and spaces have been duplicated on five continents, in countries as diverse as China, Australia, Chile, Switzerland, Korea, Portugal, the Netherlands and the USA.

Aalto Design Factory is both interdisciplinary and multicultural. It is dynamic, warm and surprising. It brings together a mixture of people who have dreams and want to be part of the community. Individuals with different backgrounds and experience work together to create an original and comprehensive outcome. The Design Factory is open 24/7 and is specially laid out to foster human interaction. A kitchen, a coffee area and even a hugging point encourage dialogue. A live web video link continuously connects the Design Factory in Finland to its global network partners.

Each year about 40 courses involving 1200 students include projects at Aalto Design Factory. More than 10000 guests including hundreds of educators and numerous heads of state visit it each year to see the activities. Numerous scientific publications and MS and doctoral theses are written every year on the pedagogical methods used there.

In short, the work of "Eetu" Ekman has inspired hundreds of university educators and thousands of students around the world and is starting to change the face of higher education by motivating and empowering individuals, highlighting soft skills and human values.

"A true education is not complete without the drive that can only be spurred by a great intent, a high ideal." José Vasconcelos

This year the World Cultural Council's 33rd Award Ceremony will take place on Friday 14th October in Riga, Latvia. It will be held in conjunction with the celebrations of the 154th anniversary of Riga Technical University (RTU) and the University Scientific Conference at the Latvian National Library. The WCC's Special Recognitions will be conferred during the Ceremony on nine scholars nominated by Riga Technical University.

As part of the program, the World Cultural Council, in cooperation with the host institution, organizes a distinguished lecture by each award winner, providing an opportunity for interaction between the university community and the laureate. These lectures will take place on Thursday, 13th and Friday, 14th October 2016. For further details on the programme please visit:


The World Cultural Council

The World Cultural Council (WCC) is an international organization founded in 1981. Every year the WCC acknowledges individuals or institutions that have made outstanding achievements in science, education and the arts, by means of its awards. Each award ceremony is held in a different country with a renowned university or academic institute acting as host with the aim of disseminating the outstanding achievements of the awardees and celebrating the inspiration that they bring as role models for future generations.

Riga Technical University

Riga Technical University is the largest university in Latvia and the oldest technical university in the Baltic States. Now composed of eight faculties and 35 institutes, the university was originally founded in 1862. It is proud of keeping its cultural traditions while being at the forefront of scientific achievements. Today the university excels with the state-of-the-art infrastructure, advanced teaching methods, new technologies, cutting edge research and leading innovation.

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