Nils Petter Gleditsch receives Lifetime Achievement Award


22 September 2011

Nils Petter Gleditsch receives Lifetime Achievement Award
The Conflict Processes Section at the American Political Science Association (APSA) selected Nils Petter Gleditsch as the recipient of the prestigious bi-annual award, adding him to a short list of scholars who have fundamentally influenced the field. The award was handed over at the annual APSA meeting in Seattle 1-4 September.

​The following remarks were given by Nils Petter Gleditsch upon receiving the award:

Dear Jim[1], and dear committee members,

I am grateful and flattered by this lifetime achievement award. Indeed, when looking at the list of previous winners of the award[2], I am bound to recall President Obama’s first reaction to the news that he had received the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009: ‘I am both surprised and deeply humbled by the decision … I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many transformative figures that have been honored by this prize …’.[3] President Obama then went on to say that he accepted the award as a call to action. Well, on the occasion of a lifetime achievement award one can hardly refer to future accomplishments as a justification and I will make no promises in this regard. Instead, let me reformulate slightly one of my favorite songwriters, Tom Lehrer, another person who didn’t finish his PhD: ‘It a sobering thought that when Mozart was my age, he had been dead for thirty-two years.’[4]

On a more serious note, I agree that looking to the future is more important than reliving the past. And for a lifetime achievement award winner, probably the greatest reward is to watch all the competent young people who are flocking into the field and pushing the scientific study of conflict to new boundaries. Here, and in the SSIP section of the International Studies Association, and in the Peace Science Society, just to mention three important venues, we witness every year the flowering of new talent. I explicitly refrain from saying ‘following in our footsteps’, because we know that the new generation will make its own footsteps. In fact, the younger members of our profession will be delighted to show us to have been wrong. And we will, with trembling hands, provide our replication data to facilitate the creative destruction and the reconstruction of the work of the older generation.

Finally, Jim cautioned me in advance that he might have left out one or more things that I wish most devoutly that he would have discussed and invited me to tell me what those things might be. I have only one item: I was actually employed full time as a university fellow in sociology at the University of Oslo for two years in the late 1970s. They didn’t have an office for me, so I retained my office at PRIO. But the University was in possession of another commodity, very scarce and valuable at the time: That was a place in kindergarten for my son.
Once again, thank you, and make sure you drink a toast to the new generation of scholars at the reception following the business meeting.




[1] The prize was presented by James Lee Ray
[2] For a list of award winners, see As of 5 September 2011, the list had only been updated through 2005, but the winners for 2007 and 2009 were Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Michael Brecher.
[3] For a transcript of Obama’s public remarks on the Nobel Peace Prize award, see For his acceptance speech three months later, see