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Bastiaan Rijpkema Wins New Scientist Academic Talent Prize

Bastiaan Rijpkema, legal scholar and philosopher at Leiden University has won the 2017 New Scientist Academic Talent Prize.

The prize was awarded on 22 June by the popular scientific journal New Scientist and the Rathenau Institute. Rijpkema was chosen as the winner following a public vote and jury deliberations which counted for 50% of the final result. With the prize he won 2,500 euro and a trophy. In addition,  New Scientist will provide him with a podium to distribute his academic findings further.

Donald Trump

Bastiaan Rijpkema (1987) is investigating to what extent democracy can defend itself from antidemocratic influences. He is looking, among other things, at the rise of the extreme right in Germany,  the constitutional amendments in Turkey and the election of Donald Trump in the United States.  Rijpkema argues that democracy can bring about its own downfall. It is possible to incorporate mechanisms in the system to prevent this, but this will have consequences for democratic freedoms like freedom of speech and the right to vote.

Topical issue

Jim Jansen, a member of the jury and editor-in-chief at New Scientist, emphasised the topical nature of Rijpkema’s research. ‘For the first time, we have a winner from the field of social sciences. And that’s no surprise. The question of how we can shape democracy in the future is one of the most important present-day issues.’

Five finalists

Rijpkema was present on 22 June in De Kleine Komedie in Amsterdam to hear the results with the four other finalists. Mariëtte Boon of the Leids Universitair Medisch Centrum (LUMC) was also a contender on behalf of Leiden University. The other finalists came from the University of Hasselt, KU Leuven and Maastricht University.

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