Patricia Hill Collins, a Distinguished University Professor emerita at the University of Maryland, has received the Berggruen Prize for Philosophy and Culture. Established in 2016 by philanthropist Nicolas Berggruen, the prize is a $1 million award given annually to an individual whose ideas have profoundly shaped human self-understanding and advancement in a rapidly changing world. The Berggruen Prize Laureate, selected by an independent jury composed of internationally recognized authors, philosophers, economists, and former Nobel Prize laureates, is chosen from a list of nominees spanning diverse fields of research and practice. During each annual nomination period, the Berggruen Institute in Los Angeles invites submissions of candidates whose ideas have both intellectual depth and long-term social and practical value across nations and cultures.
“The range of emotions I felt upon learning of this award was quite broad; at times, it brought me to tears,” Professor Collins said. “I’ve been doing this work for decades, and I haven’t done this work on social justice, issues of equity, and social inequality because it’s glamorous or trendy. It’s just something I’ve done without any expectation that I would receive an award like this.”
Professor Collins joined the faculty at the University of Maryland in 2005. Earlier, she was the director of the African American Center at Tufts University and spent more than 20 years on the faculty at the University of Cincinnati.
Dr. Collins is the author of the award-winning 1990 book Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment. Among her other works are Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender and the New Racism (Routledge, 2004) and Fighting Words: Black Women and the Search for Justice (University of Minnesota Press, 1998).
Dr. Collins plans on dedicating some of the prize money to a variety of libraries and library initiatives, a decision largely inspired by her belief that if it were not for her ability to access a good public library system, she would not have become a professor. She also plans to give back to the American Sociological Association’s Minority Fellowship Program, which supported her during her graduate studies. “When other people help you, it’s important to help them,” she said.
Professor Collins holds a bachelor’s degree and a Ph.D.from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. She also earned a master’s degree in education from Harvard University.