award winners







Professor Claudia Mitchell

2022 “José Vasconcelos” World Award of Education

The 2022 “José Vasconcelos” World Award of Education will be granted to Professor Claudia Mitchell, Distinguished James McGill Professor in the Faculty of Education of McGill University in Canada. The prize is awarded for her life commitment to education as an inspiring teacher and passionate advocate for youth, especially transforming lives of thousands of young people, from marginalized backgrounds. Professor Mitchell´s work and passion mirror the dedication of José Vasconcelos whose life work was to bring education to those most disadvantaged. The Jury especially appreciated Professor Mitchell´s pledge for tackling difficult social issues which has had a profound, lasting impact on the wellbeing and self-esteem of girls in many nations and for her remarkable capability to run innovative and adaptive projects and to do academic teaching and research. Much of Prof. Mitchell’s work has focused on the development of schools, colleges, universities and communities in rural settings. In addition to furthering capacity building in education in general, she has paid special attention to the prevention of HIV and gender-based violence, working particularly in South Africa, but also in Rwanda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Russia, among other countries. Concerned about the education of girls and noticing the scant visibility of this field in academia, Prof. Mitchell established girlhood as an academic discipline. She co-founded and became Editor-in-Chief of Girlhood Studies, an Interdisciplinary Journal, committed to participatory work with girls, for girls and by girls. This was soon awarded a prize by the Association of American Publishers, who described it as the best new journal in social sciences, providing the evidence-based knowledge urgently required for the advocacy and mainstreaming of gender equity. Prof. Mitchell has also written extensively on participatory arts-based methods, with numerous authored or co-edited books, including Putting People in the Picture, Doing Visual Research, and the Handbook of Participatory Video, placing local knowledge at the centre of social change. Her articles have been published in prominent journals such as the Gender and Education and the South African Journal of Education. For more than 25 years, Claudia has provided leadership in various educational initiatives in South Africa. During post apartheid, she directed Canada South Africa Education Management Program, in which she set up structures for school governance, gender equality and the prevention of gender-based violence. She subsequently became Professor and Chair of the School of Language and Literacies in the Faculty of Education of the University of KwaZulu-Natal. where she continued capacity building and mentoring staff and students. She highlighted the use of visual methods for participatory and collaborative research with communities to bring about social change. Then, as co-lead on a national project on HIV and AIDS in Higher Education, she led a team of academics to facilitate the piloting of an HIV and AIDS core module in teacher education programs to fight the epidemic across South Africa. She was instrumental in setting up a Community of Practice involving teachers from all 25 universities in the country. Among other projects she has headed are Digital Voices of Rural Teachers, Nothing About Us Without Us and Networks of Change and Wellbeing: Girl-led ‘From the Ground-up’ Policy Making to Address Sexual Violence in Canada and South Africa. Much of her current work supports Indigenous youth in Canada, especially in the context of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. While staying focused on excellence, Prof. Mitchell is known for her generosity and patience as a mentor and supervisor, including students in large-scale projects, creating communities of scholars and weaving networks of collaboration both nationally and internationally. She encourages those around her to be both caring and engaged while also staying critical and seeking to advance the conditions for social change.

Professor Victoria M. Kaspi

2022 “Albert Einstein” World Award of Science

The winner of the 2022 “Albert Einstein” World Award of Science is Professor Victoria M. Kaspi, Lorne Trottier Chair in Astrophysics and Cosmology, and Distinguished James McGill Chair at McGill University, and Director of the McGill Space Institute, Canada. She is a world leader in studies of neutron stars. Her research group has produced many of the most exciting results in this field and puts Canada at the cutting-edge of astrophysics. The prize is awarded in recognition of her fundamental contributions to our understanding of the most extreme form of stars known in our universe the “magnetars”, neutron stars having the highest magnetic fields known in the Universe. Her work connecting their X-ray flaring behaviour to their timing properties has been fundamental to understanding the cause of the flares and the key differences in the structure and evolution of the magnetospheres of magnetars compared to those of “ordinary” neutron stars. The WCC acknowledges Professor Kaspi´s seminal and ground-breaking work involving dense stellar objects. Her work has had a major impact on astronomy, especially regarding the physics of neutron stars which is an important piece to understanding the content of our universe. More recently she has turned to the study of a new astrophysical puzzle, the Fast Radio Burst (FRB), coming from far outside our galaxy. She leads the CHIME Fast Radio Burst Project which, using the CHIME telescope has discovered more FRBs than all other radio telescopes combined. A true mentor, Kaspi has the ability to guide future leaders and be a recognized ambassador in science and a valued role model for young researchers. Professor Kaspi is also recognized for her ability to convey her work to the general public. She is often quoted in the popular press and has participated in television and video work and is a recognized ambassador of science as well as a valued role model for women in science. Professor Kaspi’s stature in the international community is demonstrated by the number of awards bestowed on her. These include, to name but a few, the Shaw prize, the Bakerian Medal and Lecture, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada´s Gerhard Herzberg Gold Medal for Science. Professor Kaspi is a Fellow of the Royal Society (London), the United States National Academy of Sciences, and the Royal Society of Canada, among many other prestigious organizations. In summary, Prof. Kaspi has made—and continues to make—fundamental contributions to our understanding of the most extreme form of stars known in our universe. She has accomplished this by applying creative observational techniques and demonstrating the strong leadership qualities necessary to direct large, diverse research teams towards a common goal.

J. Meejin Yoon

2022 "Leonardo da Vinci" World Award of Arts

Architect and educator J. Meejin Yoon, the Gale and Ira Drukier Dean of the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning at Cornell University, USA, has been selected as the winner of the 2022 "Leonardo da Vinci" World Award of Arts. Members of the World Cultural Council recognized Yoon as an extraordinary leader in design practice, research, and education, particularly for her commitment to social justice and equity, environmental sustainability, and technological innovation deployed for the betterment of society. The "Leonardo da Vinci" World Award of Arts prize is granted for Yoon's leadership roles in higher education, achievements in academia, and for her unique contribution to the architecture discipline. In particular, the jury recognizes Yoon's innovative and thoughtful design of public memorials, installations, and structures, which are informed by a profound sense of historical and cultural context as well as the need to inspire and bring communities together by providing places of remembrance and reflection that inspire hope. Yoon is co-founding principal of Höweler + Yoon, an architecture and design studio that has received numerous awards and honours for projects that range in scale and kind, from buildings and public spaces to memorials and installations. Yoon's work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, and the National Art Center in Tokyo, among other national and international venues, and featured in publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal, among others. Her recent contributions to the architecture discipline include the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers at the University of Virginia, a collaborative project recognized for creating a place for public gathering, contemplation, and acknowledgment of the painful history of enslaved people who built the university; and the Collier Memorial, a vaulted, covered space on the MIT campus commemorating a fallen police officer and the Boston community that came together following the tragedy. Both projects entailed the thoughtful use of materials, community-design processes, and innovative uses of technology for design and construction. Yoon's commitment to design education and practice is defined by both rigor and humanity. She was recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, an honour reserved for the country's leading architects, artists, composers, and writers.

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