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Mokyr Awarded Prestigious Heineken Prize for History

April 18, 2006

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Joel Mokyr, the Robert H. Strotz Professor of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University, has been awarded the Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for History 2006.

The honor was bestowed by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences for “his research into the origins of the modern industrial economy.”

Mokyr, a professor with appointments in Northwestern’s economics and history departments, will be honored at a special session of the academy in September at the Beurs van Berlage Building in Amsterdam. He will be presented with a trophy, which represents a silver water clock and stands for the symbol of Clio, and with a cash award of $150,000.

During his visit, Mokyr will be a guest of the Heineken Foundations for one week and will lecture at universities and research institutes.

Mokyr, who also is a Sackler Professional Fellow at the Eitan Berglas School of Economics at the University of Tel Aviv, pioneered what is now known as “New Economic History.” He draws from many different disciplines, ranging from demographics to cognitive psychology to offer relevant insights into the present, such as the origins of the knowledge society.

The Royal academy noted that Mokyr “has shown an unmistakable relationship between Europe’s Industrial Revolution in the late 18th and 19th centuries and the intellectual movements of the previous centuries. Without that knowledge base, the modern industrial economy would not have evolved.”

Among his publications are “The Lever of Riches,” “the British Industrial Revolution” and “Gifts of Athena.” In a BusinessWeek magazine review of “Gifts of Athena,” Mokyr was described as a key member of an influential group of economic historians who have been grappling with the most compelling questions in economics.

Mokyr has previously worked on the Irish Famine, 19th century industrialization on the European Continent and the economic effects of the Napoleonic Wars. He is currently working on two books, “The Enlightened Economy: an Economic History of Britain, 1700-1850” and “Neither Fluke Nor Destiny: Evolutionary Models in Economic History.”

Mokyr, a former chair of Northwestern’s economics department, is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a number of comparable institutions in Europe. He has been a foreign member of The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences since 2001 and is a foreign member of the Accademia dei Lincei, Italy's most prestigious scientific society.

Mokyr also serves as editor-in-chief of the five-volume Oxford Encyclopedia of Economic History.

Mokyr was born in Leyden, the Netherlands, migrated to Israel at an early age and is now an American citizen. He studied economics and history at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and received his doctorate at Yale University in 1974 for his dissertation on the economic history of the Low Countries. He has been a member of the Northwestern faculty since 1974.

Topics: People