The Nora and Ted Sterling Prize in Support of Controversy is the result of the vision and generosity of Nora and Ted Sterling. In 1993, the Sterlings established an endowment at Simon Fraser University to honour and encourage work that provokes and/or contributes to the understanding of controversy. The $5,000 annual prize was offered for the first time in 1993.

Why controversy? Some of the most important thinkers in human history brought forth once-controversial ideas in the face of opposition: Charles Darwin, Galileo Galilei, and Socrates, to name a few. Despite resistance, these thinkers have played a fundamental role in the development of modern society.

"Individuals who question conventional wisdom or search beyond the vision of others have made an inestimable contribution to human progress," said Jack Blaney, SFU's former vice-president Harbour Centre and external relations. "Because freedom to study, create and research is essential to all universities, we are delighted to accept the Sterling endowment. It represents a unique, important and permanent challenge and opportunity in the SFU community.”

The Sterling Prize may be awarded for work in any field, including - but not limited to - the fine arts, humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and education. The selection of the annual prize winner is the responsibility of the Sterling Prize Committee.

2022 Sterling Prize Committee

Name From Position Term
Vance Williams Chair Chair (Faculty) 2021-2024
David Zandvliet Education Faculty 2021-2023
Quoc-Hung Nguyen-Le Philosophy Student 2021-2022
Erin Barley BISC Faculty 2020-2022
Marisa McGuire Beedie Staff 2021-2022

View all the videos from past recipients here.

Nominate someone for the Sterling Prize here.