By: Olivia Krauth

The 2014 Grawemeyer Award winners were announced this past week and you should care, according to Allan Dittmer, executive director of the U of L Grawemeyer Award.

“The wonderful thing about this is that students will attend these open to the public lectures, “ said Dittmer. “They will hear some amazing research and ideas presented by recipients.”

“If you’re a real student, you’re inspired,” continued Dittmer. “I think it’s important for students to avail themselves to the opportunity and then come away inspired.” The award winners will visit U of L in April to give talks on their subjects.

The Grawemeyer Awards are annual awards given from U of L to top scholars in the fields of music composition, improving world order, psychology and education. U of L partners with Louisville Presbyterian Theological Society to present a fifth award in religion. Each award is $100,000.

Here is what you should know about this year’s recipients:


Serbian-born composer Djuro Zivkovic won this year’s award for music composition with his piece “On the Guarding of the Heart.”

First performed in Nov. 2011, the piece meant for chamber orchestra has been played in multiple European cities including Belgrade and Vienna.

“The piece itself is terrific, colorful and emotionally gripping,” said music award director Marc Satterwhite. “It will definitely repay multiple hearings, with new discoveries on each listening, something I particularly look for in entries.”

“He’s one of the younger composers to win the award, and so a little less known and less established than many of the winners have been,” said Satterwhite. “I hope the award will get him some attention that might have been slower in coming otherwise.”


Jacques Hymans, international relations professor at University of Southern California, won the award for improving world order with his book on nuclear energy in developing nations.

“Achieving Nuclear Ambitions: Scientists, Politicians and Proliferation” focuses on the difficulties many developing nations face when trying to create a nuclear energy program. Hymans suggests that countries with dictatorships have a harder time creating a nuclear program.

“Hymans cautions against over-reacting to the nuclear intentions of authoritarian governments in developing countries,” said world order award director Charles Ziegler. “Their managerial styles and secretive approaches create disincentives for scientists, making success problematic. As he rightly points out, alarmist reactions – using military force, for example – can create more problems than the threat warrants. Iraq is the perfect example. “

“Jacques Hymans’ work is very timely, given concerns over the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea,” said Ziegler.


Antonio Damsio earned this year’s award in psychology for his work in “emotional intelligence,” specifically his somatic marker hypothesis.

The University of Southern California professor’s hypothesis suggests that emotions work with rational thinking to affect human reasoning and decision-making.

“In this case, the thinking at that time was that emotions could only get in the way of good decision making… they couldn’t help,” said psychology award director Heywood Petry. “Damasio’s work showed that this was not the case, and that brain systems underlying emotion needed to be intact for individuals to make good choices. He further developed this idea by identifying the brain systems involved.”

“Damasio’s pioneering work showed that emotions, by way of decision-making, are indispensable for the construction of social behavior, and that specific brain systems are responsible,” said Petry.


Diane Ravitch was been awarded the 2014 Grawemeyer Award for Education for her book “The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education.”

In her book, she discusses her path from pushing education reform, such as standardized testing, to critiquing U.S. education by saying that it needs to return to a curriculum based in things such as the humanities and problem solving.

“We are thrilled that Diane Ravitch will receive the 2014 Grawemeyer Award in Education for her book ‘The Death and Life of the Great American School System,’” said education award administrator Melissa Andris. “Dr. Ravitch is an exceptional scholar. The book is provocative and engaging as it grapples with past and current issues that inform the national conversation on school reform.”


Tanya Luhrmann won this year’s award for religion for her book “When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God.”

A physical anthropologist at Stanford, Luhrmann presented a case that suggests that evangelical prayer can help people become closer to God.

“Instead of asking ‘Is God real?’ she asks ‘How does God become real for people?’” said religion award director Shannon Craigo-Snell. “She offers a compelling exploration of religious experience in evangelical communities and a captivating account of prayer as a way of training the mind to experience God.”