Canada’s Kyoto Prize Laureates to Discuss Two Cultures: Humanities and the Sciences


On May 5, 2009, McGill University will host an event honouring the first two Canadian recipients of the Inamori Foundation’s prestigious Kyoto Prize, often described as Japan's equivalent to the Nobel Prize.

This occasion will feature a public conversation between the 2008 Laureates, Dr. Charles Taylor (Dept of Philosophy, McGill) and Dr. Anthony Pawson (University of Toronto and the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital) on the subject of Two Cultures: Humanities and the Sciences.

The theme is drawn from a 1959 lecture by physicist and novelist C.P. Snow, who argued that a growing communication gap between scientists and other intellectuals was getting in the way of solving world problems. The landmark Two Cultures lecture, and subsequent book, sparked widespread debate.

Fifty years later, many scientific and other academic fields have become ever more specialized and arcane. Yet, many educators are striving to bridge the gaps among disciplines. And the Internet revolution is making knowledge more broadly accessible than ever.  So where do we stand?   Has the rift between the two cultures widened even further?  Or is it finally beginning to narrow?

Dr. Taylor, the Kyoto Prize winner in Arts and Philosophy, and Dr. Pawson, the winner in Basic Sciences, will discuss the Two Cultures for about 40 minutes.  They will then take questions from an audience of around 300 people.  Prof. Antonia Maioni, Director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada, will moderate the forum.

The Kyoto Prize, founded in 1985, is awarded annually to people who have made significant contributions in the three categories of Advanced Technology, Basic Sciences, and Arts and Philosophy. Through this Prize, the Inamori Foundation seeks not only to recognize outstanding achievements but also to promote academic and cultural development and to contribute to mutual international understanding.

When: Tuesday, May 5, 2009, from 4-6 p.m.

Where: Moyse Hall, Arts Building
McGill University
853 Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal

A reception will follow.

Contact Information

Chris Chipello
Media Relations Office
christopher.chipello [at]
Office Phone: 
(514) 398 4201