Public administration scholar Paul 't Hart receives Stevin Prize for his contribution to the practical use of knowledge in society

NWO bestows annual scientific awards

Researcher Paul ‘t Hart, Professor of Public Administration at Utrecht University School of Governance (USBO), has been awarded a Stevin Prize. This prestigious annual award from the NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research) amounts to €1.5 million, intended for scientific research and activities related to knowledge utilization. Climate researcher Detlef van Vuuren, also at Utrecht University, has been awarded a Spinoza Prize. The Stevin and Spinoza Prizes are often referred to as the ‘Dutch Nobel Prizes’. They are awarded to researchers who deliver excellent, groundbreaking, and inspiring work.

For Professor of Public Administration Paul ‘t Hart, the news of receiving the Stevin Prize came as a complete surprise. When he was called by Marcel Levi, the chairman of NWO, at the height of the student protests surrounding the Gaza conflict, his first thought was, “Oh, he probably wants crisis advice.” However, Levi had a very different message.

I have been fortunate to have had many inspiring collaborations since a young age... In that sense, we have earned this prize together with many.

Paul 't Hart
Paul 't Hart

Paul ‘t Hart has been associated with the Utrecht University School of Governance since 2002. He studies political leadership, civil service craftsmanship, political-administrative collaboration, crisis management, and the successes and failures of governments. Since early 2023, he has been dedicating most of his time as a member of the Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy. Additionally, he is a member of the supervisory committee of the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, where Van Vuuren works as well. Throughout his career, he has been pondering questions about people with public power: How do they gain and lose their authority? What do they try to achieve with it? How do they seek advice? How do they manage their time, uncertainty, and conflicts? How do they act when it really matters in critical situations? And, of course, how can we understand their behavior and evaluate their impact?

‘t Hart is receiving the Stevin Prize for his achievements in the area of knowledge utilization for society. In the laudation, he is described as one of the most influential public administration scholars in the Netherlands. The impact of his research is significant, especially in how the government responds to emergencies. He, however, is not fond of being placed on a pedestal. “It's nice, such a prize, but then right away I think: Why me, of all people? I see so many colleagues whose work has great societal significance and who equally deserve such recognition.” Moreover, he considers himself more of a team player than a soloist: “I have been fortunate to have had many inspiring collaborations since a young age. I was raised with team science. In that sense, we have earned this prize together, and I will undoubtedly seek collaboration again in spending the money.”