Newswise — Los Angeles (April 3, 2018) – Michael Ignatieff, author of The Ordinary Virtues: Moral Order in a Divided World, is the winner of the eighth annual Zócalo Public Square Book Prize. The Zócalo Book Prize is awarded annually to the U.S.-published nonfiction book that most enhances our understanding of community and the forces that strengthen or undermine human connectedness and social cohesion.

Consistent with the organization’s mission, the Zócalo Book Prize seeks to honor the best contemporary thinking on the oldest of human dilemmas: how best to live and work together.

Michael Ignatieff is the former leader of the Liberal Party of Canada and now president of Central European University in Budapest. In the book, published by Harvard University Press, he explores how globalization—and resistance to it—is affecting our moral understanding of the world. Resulting from three years of conversations with a diversity of people in eight nations, Ignatieff found that while human rights may be the language of states and liberal elites, the moral language that resonates with most people is that of everyday virtues: tolerance, forgiveness, trust, and resilience. This is part of what he calls a "city’s moral operating system."

Ignatieff will receive $5,000 and deliver a lecture at an award ceremony on May 22 at the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy in downtown Los Angeles.

"At a time when America—and indeed the world—seems more divided than ever, we at Zócalo feel it is critical to draw attention to the many forces that keep us together as well as tear us apart, be they local, regional, national or global," said Gregory Rodriguez, Zócalo founder, editor-in-chief and publisher. "As with our previous Book Prize winners, Michael Ignatieff’s Ordinary Virtues challenges us to think more humanely about our need to deepen human cooperation."

"The Zócalo Book Prize is not only an opportunity to shine a spotlight on an important book, it’s also a chance to acknowledge a set of values that we as a university believe are critical to creating a positive future," said Michael M. Crow, president of Arizona State University. "We are proud to recognize the valuable work written by Michael Ignatieff and the ongoing effort of Zócalo and the Zócalo Book Prize to encourage social cohesion and the sharing of ideas."

Zócalo Public Square also presents an annual poetry prize in conjunction with the book prize, to the U.S. poet whose poem best evokes a connection to place. "Place" may be interpreted by the poet as a place of historical, cultural, political or personal importance; it may be a literal, imaginary or metaphorical landscape.

The winner of the 2018 Zócalo Poetry Prize is Charles Jensen for his poem, Tucson. Jensen, who lives in Los Angeles, has authored six chapbooks of poems and has been widely published in literary magazines and journals. He will deliver a public reading of the winning poem at the May 22 award ceremony.

Click here to read Zócalo's interview with Michael Ignatieff.

Past winners of the Zócalo Book Prize are: 

Mitchell Duneier for Ghetto: The Invention of a Place, the History of an Idea (2017)

Sherry Turkle for Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age (2016)

Danielle Allen for Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality (2015)

Ethan Zuckerman for Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection (2014)

Jonathan Haidt for The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (2013)

Richard Sennett for Together: The Rituals, Pleasures and Politics of Cooperation (2012)

Peter Lovenheim for In the Neighborhood: The Search for Community on an American Street, One Sleepover at a Time (2011)


About Zócalo Public Square

Zócalo's mission is to connect people to ideas and to each other. We do this by publishing and syndicating nonpartisan, ideas journalism and convening smart, live events. Since our founding in 2003, Zócalo has presented 564 events, featuring 2,230 speakers in 23 cities, seven states, and six countries. We now publish over 500 original pieces a year and syndicate to 280 media outlets worldwide, including USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, the Houston Chronicle, Smithsonian Magazine, and The Singapore Straits Times. To expand its reach and impact, Zócalo is now a creative unit of Arizona State University, the largest public university in the U.S., and is committed to innovation in journalism and media.

About Arizona State University

Arizona State University has developed a new model for the American Research University, creating an institution that is committed to access, excellence and impact. ASU measures itself by those it includes, not by those it excludes. As the prototype for a New American University, ASU pursues research that contributes to the public good, and ASU assumes major responsibility for the economic, social and cultural vitality of the communities that surround it. For three straight years, ASU has been named the nation’s most innovative university by US News & World Report.