The Australian Humanist of the Year is awarded to an “Australian who had demonstrated outstanding qualities of the type needed to advance mankind…An occasional award is made to a Humanist Society member for outstanding contributions to the Humanist movement or to furthering the ideals of Humanism: this person is given the award of Outstanding Humanist Achiever.”
The American award goes to “a person of national or international reputation who, through the application of humanist values, has made a significant contribution to the improvement of the human condition.”
The National Secular Society last year introduced the Irwin Prize for the Secularist of the Year (worth £5000) which appeared to be given on the basis of how much a person has done to promote secularism or science or criticise religion (nominees included Flemming Rose, the man who commissioned the Mohamed cartoons for Jyllands-Posten).
But a humanist of the year award would be more like the Australian or American version – for people who have exhibited humanist values. There would certainly be overlap as promotion of secularism and science would be part of that but there would also be more room for people who have worked tirelesly for the benefit of humankind in other ways. It could even be awarded to people who were not a humanist (perhaps there could be an additional friends of humanists award) and would do well to have a local dimension rewarding ordinary people. (The Secularist of the Year Prize is very much about headline worthy names and fundraising).
Who would you nominate this year and why?