Novak Award

Named after distinguished American theologian Michael Novak, this $10,000 award rewards new outstanding scholarly research concerning the relationship between religion, economic freedom, and the free and virtuous society. This award recognizes those scholars early in their academic career who demonstrate outstanding intellectual merit in advancing the understanding of theology’s connection to human dignity, the importance of the rule of law, limited government, religious liberty, and freedom in economic life.

Acton Institute Names THe Heritage Foundation Senior Research Fellow Ryan Anderson the 2016 Novak Award Winner

Ryan Anderson

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., May 17, 2016 – In recognition of his past and current academic success as well as a promising future in his career, Ryan Anderson is the recipient of the 2016 Novak Award.

Passionate researcher and writer on numerous topics such as religious liberty, Anderson is the William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow in American Principles and Public Policy at The Heritage Foundation. He is also the founder and editor of Public Discourse, the online journal of the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, New Jersey, and author of the recently released book Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom.

Anderson’s research has been cited by U.S. Supreme Court justices, Justice Samuel Alito and Justice Clarence Thomas, in U.S. Supreme Court cases.  His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, the Harvard Health Policy Review, First Things, the Weekly Standard, National Review, and the Claremont Review of Books. Read more...

Award Details:

  • Nominations: Professors, university faculty members, and other scholars may nominate qualified individuals for the Novak Award by completing the online nomination form.
  • Selection Process: Those scholars nominated for the Novak Award will be contacted via email and asked to submit an application. Shortly after the application deadline, applications are reviewed and finalists are selected. The Novak Award recipient will be selected by the Acton Institute research staff and an independent panel of relevant scholars. Award decisions by the Acton Institute are final and not subject to appeal.
  • Deadlines: The nomination and application deadlines are the following:

    2016 Novak Award
    Nomination Deadline: February 15, 2016
    Application Deadline: March 15, 2016
    Announcement: May 2016

A completed application consists of:

  1. A signed application form [PDF]. (must be completed in English.)
  2. A Curriculum vitae.
  3. A 500-word essay that describes your intellectual development, future plans, and career goals. This statement should elaborate on the source and development of your interest in the ideas and principles listed above. Include how you expect to contribute to a better understanding or application of these ideas.
  4. A research paper, refereed published article, or other scholarly work, such as a book, monograph, or a conference paper, on a theme relevant to religion and economic liberty or a related theme.
  5. Two letters of recommendation from professors or other established scholars in your field.

Mail the completed application materials to:

Acton Institute
Awards and Scholarships
98 East Fulton Street
Grand Rapids, MI 49503 USA

Important Notes:

  • Award Communication: All award decisions are communicated via e-mail. If you do not read your e-mail regularly, please clearly indicate this on your application.
  • Application Submission: No faxed or E-mailed entries will be accepted. All application materials should be submitted in the same package and be written in English.
  • Performance Assessment: Like the vast majority of universities, scholarship programs, and research institutes, the Acton Institute does not enter into discussions with unsuccessful applicants concerning the particular reasons for their denial.


  • Scholars who have received a doctorate from an accredited domestic or international program in the previous five calendar years. Current doctoral candidates in the process of completing their dissertations are also eligible.
  • Nominees also must be studying theology, religion, economics, philosophy, business, or a related field.
  • Strong academic performance is essential.
  • Nominees must have a demonstrated interest in the relationship between religion, economic liberty, and the free and virtuous society. Important principles in this relationship include the recognition of human dignity, the importance of the rule of law, limited government, religious liberty, and freedom in economic life.
  • Nominees must display the potential to contribute to the advancement of a free and virtuous society.
  • The Novak Award is open to all qualified persons irrespective of race, sex, age, national or ethnic origin, citizenship, religious affiliation, or disability.

Award Conditions:

  • Calihan Lecture: The recipient of the Novak Award will present his or her research in a public forum known as the Calihan Lecture.
  • Expenses: Travel expenses for the recipient to and from the Calihan Lecture will be provided in addition to the $10,000 award.
  • Acknowledgement: Any published work drawn out of the award must also be granted by-line acknowledgment to the Novak Award and the Acton Institute.
  • Publicity: The Acton Institute may publicize the award and has permission to identify a recipient as a Novak Award recipient.
  • Tax Compliance: Recipients who are United States citizens must submit a W-9 tax form.

Legal Information:

All qualified individuals will be considered for the Novak Award without regard to race, sex, national or ethnic origin, citizenship, religious affiliation, or disability. Award decisions are final and are not subject to appeal.

Application Form [PDF]