McGill duo shortlisted for annual Donner Prize

Posted on Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Political Science professor Juliet Johnson and Professor Emeritus Dan Levitin have been shortlisted for the $50,000 Donner Prize for excellence and innovation in public-policy writing by Canadians.

By McGill Reporter Staff

Two McGill professors have had their books shortlisted for the annual Donner Prize, which rewards excellence and innovation in public-policy writing by Canadians.

Established by the Donner Canadian Foundation, the $50,000 prize is the largest and most prestigious prize of its kind, the Foundation says. The other shortlisted authors will receive $7,500 each, to a maximum of five titles. The winner will be announced at a gala in Toronto on May 15.

There are five titles on the short list this year, including A Field Guide to Lies: Critical Thinking in the Information Age, by McGill Professor Emeritus Dan Levitin; and Priests of Prosperity: How Central Bankers Transformed the Postcommunist World by Political Science professor Juliet Johnson.

Other contenders include Yves Couturier, Canada Research Chair in Professional Practice for the Integration of Gerontology Services at the Université de Sherbrooke; Lucie Bonin, a specialist in public health and preventive medicine; and Louise Belzile, a social worker whose work focuses on the use of standardized multi-dimensional clinical tools in the context of integrating services for seniors with loss of functional autonomy, collaborated on L’intégration des services en santé: Une approche populationnelle.

Alex Marland, associate professor of political science and an Associate Dean of Arts at Memorial University in Newfoundland, wrote Brand Command: Canadian Politics and Democracy in the Age of Message Control, while noted Canadian journalist Sandra Martin wrote A Good Death: Making the Most of Our Final Choices.

Johnson’s Priests of Prosperity is an analytical study of the evolution of central banking in postcommunist countries, exploring the unsung revolutionary campaign to move from command-economy cash cows into Western-style monetary guardians. She argues that a powerful transnational central banking community concentrated in Western Europe and North America integrated postcommunist bankers to shape their ideas about the role of central banks and to help them develop modern tools of banking.

Levitin, author of the hugely popular This is Your Brain on Music, notes in his latest work that we are bombarded with information each day, and it’s becoming harder to separate the wheat from the digital chaff. How do we distinguish misinformation, pseudo-facts, distortions and outright lies from reliable information? Infoliteracy means understanding that there are hierarchies of source quality and bias that distort our information feeds via every media channel, including social media, he says. The book is a guide to better understand our information overload in the digital age of profuse personal and social expression.

The Donner Canadian Foundation established the prize to recognize and reward the best public policy thinking, writing and research by a Canadian, and the role it plays in determining the well-being of Canadians and the success of Canada as a whole. Previous honourees have shed light on a wide range of issues bearing on the economy, politics and society in general, the Foundation said in a statement. The prize is meant to encourage an open exchange of ideas and to provide a springboard for authors who may not necessarily be well-known, but who can make an original and meaningful contribution to policy discourse.

One of Canada’s largest foundations, the Donner Canadian Foundation was established in 1950 by businessman and philanthropist William H. Donner to support projects that advance the common good in Canada by encouraging private initiative, independence and individual responsibility. Since 1967, the Foundation has contributed more than $100 million to more than 1,000 projects across the country.


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