Kathleen Hall Jamieson to receive Public Welfare Medal — academy’s most prestigious award

The National Academy of Sciences is presenting its 2020 Public Welfare Medal to distinguished science and political communication scholar Kathleen Hall Jamieson

WASHINGTON — The National Academy of Sciences is presenting its 2020 Public Welfare Medal to distinguished science and political communication scholar Kathleen Hall Jamieson for her “non-partisan crusade to ensure the integrity of facts in public discourse and development of the science of scientific communication to promote public understanding of complex issues.” The medal is the Academy’s most prestigious award, established in 1914 and presented annually to honor extraordinary use of science for the public good.

Jamieson is the Elizabeth Ware Packard Professor of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication, the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, and program director of the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands. She is a pioneer in the development of science communication as an academic field and has authored or co-authored 16 books and more than 100 book chapters and articles on science communication, the media, and politics and presidential campaigns. Jamieson is also the co-founder of the award-winning website FactCheck.org and its subsidiary, SciCheck, a resource for fact checking science-based claims.

“Throughout her long and exemplary career, Kathleen Hall Jamieson has worked tirelessly to bring science, evidence, and facts to the forefront of our public and political spheres,” said Susan Wessler, home secretary of the National Academy of Sciences and chair of the selection committee for the award. “Her work is strengthening the foundation of an important cornerstone of our democracy — an informed citizenry that is better able to discern fact from fiction.”

“In an age when misinformation, spin, and confusion about whom to trust threatens our very democracy, Kathleen Hall Jamieson’s nonpartisan, evidence-based approach to science communication and political analysis is an invaluable national treasure,” said National Academy of Sciences President Marcia McNutt. “Her scholarship has been essential to elevating our public discourse and boosting the integrity of science communication. We are thrilled to present her with our highest honor.”

The Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC), which Jamieson founded in 1993, has become the premier communications and public policy center in the nation. Designed to build civic engagement and inform policy debates on a wide range of political, science, and health issues, one of APPC’s focus areas is the “science of science communication” — examining what is behind public controversy about climate change, vaccinations, and genetically modified organisms despite valid, compelling, and widely available scientific evidence. Jamieson also spearheaded the establishment of a five-year advanced study program that allows postdoctoral fellows the opportunity to collaborate with APPC on science communication issues of public importance.

In 2003, Jamieson co-founded FactCheck.org, a nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that “aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.” The website has received numerous honors and awards, including a 2010 Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, a 2009 Clarion Award for presidential election coverage, and 10 Webby Awards from the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. In 2015, the site expanded to include SciCheck, which focuses exclusively on debunking false or misleading scientific claims. SciCheck articles have garnered more than 5 million page views and have been widely cited.

Books authored or co-authored by Jamieson have received 12 political science or communication book awards. Her most recent book, Cyberwar: How Russian Hackers and Trolls Helped Elect a President, received the Association of American Publishers’ 2019 R.R. Hawkins Award, its highest prize. Jamieson’s other books include investigations of how money and media coverage influenced the 2008 U.S. presidential election and the effects of “the double bind” on women’s lives and careers. She co-edited the Oxford Handbooks of the Science of Science Communication and of Political Communication, and published many papers and articles on science-related topics, including works on communicating the value and values of science and overcoming endpoint bias in climate change communication.

Jamieson has received numerous awards and honors, including three lifetime achievement awards. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Political and Social Science, and the International Communication Association, and is a past president of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.

Jamieson’s prior academic appointments include serving as dean of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, the G.B. Dealey Regents Professor of Communication and chair of the speech communication department of the University of Texas, and as assistant, associate, and full professor at the University of Maryland. She earned her bachelor’s degree in rhetoric and public address at Marquette University and her master’s degree and doctorate in communication arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


The Public Welfare Medal will be presented to Jamieson on April 26 during the Academy’s 157th annual meeting. More information, including a list of past recipients, is available at http://www.nasonline.org/programs/awards/public-welfare-medal.html.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit institution that was established under a congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. It recognizes achievement in science by election to membership, and — with the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Medicine — provides science, technology, and health policy advice to the federal government and other organizations.


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