–The largest international prize program that celebrates think tank contributions to the understanding of freedom
Exceptional think tanks from 10 countries have been recognized by the 2010 Templeton Freedom Awards for Excellence in Promoting Liberty for their accomplishments in advancing freedom. Representing three continents, the 16 recipients were chosen from over 132 applications from 48 countries by an independent panel of expert judges.
Named after the late investor and philanthropist Sir John Templeton, the Templeton Freedom Award was established in 2003 and is the largest international prize program that celebrates think tank contributions to the understanding of freedom. The Templeton Freedom Awards program has awarded more than $1.5 million in prizes and grants in the past 7 years. This year’s awards program grants a $10,000 prize to each winner.
The Awards include eight different categories including Free Market Solutions to Poverty, Social Entrepreneurship, Ethics and Values, Student Outreach, Initiative in Public Relations, Innovative Media, and Awards for Special Achievement by a University-based Center and by a Young Institute.
The Korea Economic Research Institute (KERI) in South Korea won the prize for undertaking a major Regulatory Reform Project in 2007 as part of its on-going efforts to promote a free market economy. The project involved 130 experts from diverse backgrounds, ranging from professional economists to government officials and representatives of private businesses. Five focus research groups examined the validity and effectiveness of approximately 5,000 regulations registered by the government’s Regulatory Reform Committee. KERI strived to uphold six guiding principles throughout the whole process. These were (1) to promote free and fair competition, (2) to maximize social net benefits of regulations, (3) to strengthen regulatory effectiveness, (4) to improve regulatory transparency, (5) to ensure universality of regulations, (6) to emphasize self-regulation and responsibility. As one of the judges put it, “This is a nice way to co-opt the different segments of society for improving the rules of the game instead of bending them through lobbies of special interests.”
By publishing the book “Lessons from the Poor: Triumph of the Entrepreneurial Spirit” in 2008, The Independent Institute in Oakland, CA uncovered compelling evidence of the entrepreneurial energy that is the true catalyst of economic progress. In this book Alvaro Vargas Llosa and a select group of economists examined real world examples of successful entrepreneurship. They argue that instead of distributing wealth, developing countries should work to create it. The book examines the business strategies that have enabled individuals with very little means except a wealth of vision and tenacity, to flourish beyond all reasonable expectations. The story-telling style of the book and its effective way of connecting with the general public increases its appeal.
Through its program of Strengthening and Social Action (FORTAS), Fundación Salvadoreña para el Desarrollo Economic y Social (FUSADES) in El Salvador decided to combat rural poverty and focus their efforts in one municipality, Caluco. FORTAS has achieved this by helping to modernize farmer’s agricultural practices and equipment, which has led to more diversified production and better scheduling of good agricultural practices. This effort required a series of investments that more often than not the farmer cannot afford. FUSADES acquired funds to improve post-harvest methods by building a Collection Center for farmers in the Municipality of Caluco to receive technical assistance for producing higher quality crops and effectively getting their products to market. This is a very replicable model, and upon building the success of this pilot project, it will be taken to other parts of the country.
The Common Sense Society (CSS) in Hungary won a Templeton Freedom Award for its Start Up! Entrepreneurship Project. This long-term initiative is a multifaceted project which aims to promote the idea of entrepreneurship through educational and international workshops, panel discussions, lectures, reading groups, and media events. The aim of the project is to inspire, equip, and connect the next generation of “Young European Entrepreneurs.” CSS firmly believes that the civic education, political engagement, and personal enterprise of young people are crucial aspects of Hungary’s transition from a post-communist state towards a truly free and prosperous society.
Through Acton Media the Acton Institute in Michigan has produced first-rate documentaries designed to communicate the importance of virtue, limited government, and free enterprise to general audiences. They have impressed the judges through two of their very successful documentaries, The Call of the Entrepreneur and The Birth of Freedom. These documentaries communicate the principles and values of individual liberty and a free society. They have attracted attention from U.S. media, public policy institutes around the world, and even education ministers in Eastern Europe.
The Centro de Divulgación del Conocimiento Económico para la Libertad (CEDICE) in Venezuela won for its initiative, A Country of Owners. The project promotes awareness in Venezuelans of one of the most basic human rights, which is the right to own property. The purpose of A Country of Owners is to encourage ideas and actions in favor of individual private property through educational activities. The initiative has been called “a courageous and timely response to the events in Venezuela” as well as a “beacon in the growing darkness of Venezuela.“
The Free to Choose Network in Pennsylvania has won the Templeton Freedom Award for their izzit.org project. This initiative reaches 19 million students a year with messages of freedom. This unique information pipeline reaches American schools by producing original videos, as well as re-purposing other videos, and offering them to teachers across the country. Their unique distribution method reaches educators in a database of more than 1 million teachers; currently, 117,000 active teachers have signed up to receive the DVD’s. In some cases these teachers loan the DVDs to other colleagues who are not registered, raising the teacher base to approximately 180,000 actively using the materials.
Through its Unleashing Silk Road initiative, the Central Asian Free Market Institute in Kyrgyzstan introduced youth to the fundamental ideas of a free society, focusing on individual freedom, market economy and the rule of law. Young participants were introduced to the ideas of liberty through a week-long camp and a movie night, as well as two unique discussion forums – Re Camp and Idea Night. The program spanned April 2009 to June 2010, across the four largest cities of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
The Instituto Juan de Mariana in Spain won for their Green Jobs and Green Energy Campaign. Starting in 2009, the institute launched a campaign to illustrate the consequences of government intervention in the energy market. The campaign included the production of a study on green jobs in Spain, which found that for every green job created by the government, two jobs are destroyed in the private sector. The study attracted a great deal of media attention both in Spain and abroad, and had a large impact in the debate in the US. It has turned out to be an inconvenient truth for governments who would like to justify the creation of green jobs as a way to promote economic prosperity and reduced unemployment.
The TaxPayers’ Alliance in the United Kingdom was awarded the Templeton Freedom Award for its Pay Cheque Transparency Project. The objective of the project was to highlight the growth in public sector pay and to introduce greater transparency to taxpayer-funded remuneration, enabling public opinion and the media to act as a check on further big pay rises. To transform this issue into something which was more media friendly, and which the public would find easier to understand, TaxPayers’ extended the ‘Rich Lists’ popularised by Forbes and, in the UK, the Sunday Times, to public sector remuneration. The list was published from 2006 to 2009 and widely publicized in the media. After this, Prime Minister Gordon Brown attacked the “culture of excess” in public sector pay and said that any salary above £150,000 would now need formal ministerial approval. In 2007 TaxPayers’ also started to compile the Town Hall Rich List (THRL). Their researchers contacted every local authority in the country, requesting details of employees with pay and remuneration above £100,000. For the first time, people all over Britain could see what the senior officers in their local council were earning, and they could hold them accountable.
The Prometheus Institute in California won for the release of their iPhone application, DIY Democracy. This smartphone application empowers citizens to reduce the burden of government in their lives through a best-selling hand-held device. DIY Democracy distills complex policy analysis into location-specific projects with easily understandable cost-benefit bullets and one-touch action steps. This tool helps new audiences make informed decisions quickly about measures that improve their government and protect their liberties. The California iPhone pilot version of DIY Democracy enjoyed a staggering popularity of over 150,000 users within six months.
The Mercatus Center at George Mason University won for the “Fear the Boom and Bust” video produced by Russ Roberts and John Papola through the EconStories initiative. The rap-style video discusses the ideas of the two of the most famous economists in the 20th century, Friedrich von Hayek and John Maynard Keynes. Since its release in January the video has received more than 1.3 million views and has subtitles in more than eight languages. The creative and entertaining style of this video effectively communicates through rap music, making it a popular choice to share through several media outlets such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
The Center for Vision and Values at Grove City College in Pennsylvania has won for producing and distributing 179 opinion editorials during 2009 – 2010 and generating 1,550 known media placements, including The Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, and the National Review Online. The Center conducts annual two-day conferences as well as a monthly evening dessert lecture called Freedom Readers, designed to introduce free market principles to non-economics majors in a relaxing and enjoyable environment. The Center also runs a student fellows program which looks to “seed” the freedom movement with highly talented students.
The Financial Markets Working Group of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University in Virginia is a collection of 17 university-based scholars with expertise across a wide range of economic issues relevant to the recent economic crisis. Members of the group conduct research and communicate their findings, addressing the causes of and potential solutions to the economic downturn. The goals of the group are to challenge the narrative that free markets are responsible for the crisis, advance an alternative evidence-based explanation and improve public policy outcomes regarding regulations, government spending and political ownership. Mercatus Center scholars have published 115 academic and policy studies and have appeared in almost 8,000 media stories.
The Transition Institute (TI) in China has won in this category for many of its initiatives, such as the Anti-monopoly Research on Public Utilities, Civic Education and Legal Research and Action. The Transition Institution’s mission is to spread the ideas of free markets and the rule of law by promoting liberty and human rights in China. The institute was established in 2007 and has since published 13 books, translated two, and conducted eight research projects with an independent and professional perspective. They have also attracted almost 30,000 students to 147 forums at 17 universities in five cities. They have held 91 forums, developed an e-journal with more than 10,000 subscribers, and have been covered more than 100 times by newspapers and magazines. One judge mentioned that TI has “superbly managed to overcome limitations due to the lack of press freedom in the country and has shown an excellent performance in its outreach to students, scholars, internet news portals and individual internet users.”
The Institute of Economic and Social Studies in Slovakia won for its project the Price of the State. The project goal is to improve the younger generation’s general knowledge of the basic mechanisms and proportions of public finance. Price of the State started off as a webpage where people could learn the real fiscal size of the state. It was later expanded beyond the web platform to reach out to schools to provide education to teachers on the Price of the State in an effort to create support and to provide information for teachers to insert into their curriculum, including such educational tools as a poster-like visualization of The Universe of Public Expenditures and a CD containing the offline version of the website with all active features, including presentation tutorials and other files relevant for delivering a lecture. Educational packages were sent to 250 high schools in the year 2008 and 282 high schools in 2009. Price of the State has delivered 68 lectures to 2,628 students and 263 teachers at both universities and high schools in all parts of Slovakia during 2008 and 2009.
The Atlas Economic Research Foundation hosted a special Templeton Freedom Awards Luncheon to honor the award winners as part of the 2010 Liberty Forum conference. This luncheon featured Gabriel Calzada of the Instituto Juan de Mariana as the keynote speaker. Honorees were also featured as speakers throughout the 2010 Liberty Forum.