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    Grand Rapids, Mich., May 4, 2023 – In recognition of Ismail Kurun’s outstanding research in the fields of philosophy, politics and economics, the Acton Institute will be awarding him the 2023 Novak Award.

    Named after the distinguished American theologian, the late Michael Novak, this $15,000 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 religion’s connection to human dignity, the rule of law, limited government, religious liberty and freedom in economic life.

    Ismail Kurun is currently a graduate fellow in Philosophy at Vanderbilt University, where he works on political philosophy and medieval philosophy and teaches various philosophy courses. His current research is on political epistemology, specifically, on understanding why and how political actors develop intellectual vices. 

    Before joining Vanderbilt, Dr. Kurun studied philosophy, political science, and religion in Turkey. His master's thesis explored the role of religion in the emergence of classical liberalism and was published as a book titled The Theological Origins of Liberalism (Lexington Books, 2016). The book received positive reviews in various academic journals including Markets and Morality, Anglican and Episcopal History, and Economic Affairs, and was translated into Turkish. He earned a PhD in Philosophy and Religious Studies from Ankara University in 2021 with a dissertation on Avicenna's epistemology and metaphysics. He has published articles on medieval epistemology, empiricism, classical liberalism, and Middle East politics in academic journals, the most recent being "Avicenna's Intuitionist Rationalism" in History of Philosophy Quarterly. He has also authored opinion pieces for popular venues and provided media commentary on issues such as Islam, freedom, and enlightenment.

    Dr. Kurun will join the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) as a graduate fellow for the summer of 2023.

    The Novak Award forms part of a range of academic grants and awards available from the Acton Institute that support those engaged in serious reflection and research on the relationship between religion, the free market, limited government and the rule of law. Details of these academic scholarships may be found at

    Follow Acton news and events for more information about the Calihan Lecture, in which Dr. Kurun will discuss some of his research and be presented with the Novak Award.

    About the Acton Institute

    The Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, ecumenical think tank located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Founded in 1990, the Institute works internationally to “promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles.” For more information, visit

    Interviews with Acton Institute staff may be arranged by contacting Eric Kohn, Director of Marketing & Communications, at (616) 454-3080 or at [email protected].