Professor Howard Gardner was recently named the 2015 Brock International Prize in Education Laureate for his groundbreaking work in the field of psychology — scholarship that has profoundly and positively impacted the field of education around the world. Gardner is best known for his work on the theory of multiple intelligences, the idea that there is more than a single human intelligence that can be adequately assessed by standard psychometric instruments.
“As a scholar, I am both surprised and humbled by the interest shown in the education world about the theory of multiple intelligences,” Gardner said. “The Brock Prize stands out because it singles out an idea in education that has made a broad impact. In many ways, the prize ought to go to teachers, parents, and students who have taken the idea of multiple intelligences to heart and made it part of their practices.”
The Brock International Prize in Education is awarded annually to individuals who have made a specific innovation or contribution resulting in a significant impact on the practice or understanding of the field of education.
“Few people in history have had greater global impact on the field of education than Professor Howard Gardner. His theory of multiple intelligences, first introduced in 1983, has changed our basic understanding of how the brain works and what intelligence and education mean. This theory stands out for its widespread and profound influence throughout the entire field of education and for the unmistakable evidence of its international impact,” said Richard Miller, president of Olin College of Engineering, who nominated Gardner for the prize. “It has been called a ‘blockbuster in American education’ and ‘contemporary education’s most popular idea.’ There now exist hundreds of books on the theory of multiple intelligences, many schools throughout the world based on its principles, and at least six schools in the United States that are named for Howard Gardner. Professor Gardner’s work was also highly influential to us in establishing Olin College of Engineering, particularly in the development of our admission program.”
Gardner will be formally honored at the annual Brock Prize Symposium held at the University of Tulsa in March 2015 where he will be the featured speaker. He will receive a certificate of honor, a bust of legendary Native American educator Sequoyah, and an award of $40,000 from the Brock Family Community Foundation endowment.
Gardner will use the award to help fund a new research project, “Liberal Arts and Sciences in the 21st Century.” The project explores in depth a diverse group of campuses in the United States that value liberal arts but differ in selectivity and demography, as well as in kinds of curricular and co-curricular offerings. The study includes targeted interviews of the major constituencies across campuses (incoming students, graduating students, parents, faculty, staff, alumni, trustees, and recruiters). This exploration promises to reveal the extent to which there is alignment or misalignment among these disparate stakeholders with respect to the goals, values, and means of implementing post-secondary education. Ultimately, through this project, Gardner, Project Manager Wendy Fischman, and their colleagues hope to contribute to a reinvigoration of this uniquely American form of education for our time.
“The preservation and expansion of education in the liberal arts is a defining issue of our time, and one that has deep personal meaning for me, and for millions of others. Our lives were transformed by the chance to learn from great faculty, engage in formative extracurricular activities, and make lifelong connections to peers as well as inspiring mentors,” Gardner said. “We want our children and grandchildren, as well as countless other young persons around the globe, to have such experiences. Our team has the capacity to carry out this project, arrive at important and actionable recommendations, and help to implement them. This endeavor may even be the crowning work of a lifetime in education.”
His shift to studying higher education is born from the significant challenges facing today’s era. With issues concerning climate change, population growth and movement, regional strife, and job creation, Gardner intends through this study to better understand and enable colleges and universities of America to offer well-crafted educations in liberal arts and sciences and equip future leaders with capacities to think critically, question, collaborate, and solve our most pressing problems.
While best known in educational circles for his theory of multiple intelligences, Gardner is one of the most respected scholars and intellectual thinkers in education and psychology. His work stretches beyond solely the study of multiple intelligences.
Since the 1990s, Gardner has directed the GoodWork Project, a large-scale research effort that falls under Project Zero. The GoodWork Project focuses on the work that enhances the understanding and incidence of good work among young people and institutions, and how best to increase the incidence of it across society.
The Good Work Toolkit, created in 2004, draws on real-life situations from original in-depth qualitative interviews, and educators and professionals at all levels have since incorporated the materials into classrooms and conferences as a way to get communities thinking about the nature of good work in particular environments and institutions. The toolkit’s narratives describe a series of relatable, challenging dilemmas that arise in professional or academic settings. The activities are designed to prompt critical thinking about goals, influences, and choices.
A well-known author of 29 books translated into 32 different languages, Gardner has won numerous awards including the MacArthur Prize and honorary degrees from 30 colleges and universities. In 2005, and again in 2008, he was selected by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines as one of 100 most influential public intellectuals in the world. In 2011, Gardner received the Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences. He has been elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the National Academy of Education, and the London-based Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce. Currently, he serves on the boards of Amherst College, The American Philosophical Society, and the Museum of Modern Art.