About the Sterling Prize

A unique endowment fund, established at Simon Fraser University by Nora and Ted Sterling, will honour and encourage work which provokes, and/or contributes to the understanding of controversy. It makes possible, in perpetuity, the Sterling Prize in Support of Controversy, providing for a cash award and administrative operating expenses. The $5,000 annual prize was offered for the first time in 1993.

The Sterling Prize is awarded for work in any field, including–but not limited to–the fine arts, humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and education. To be eligible for the prize, the work must be the object of, or present a meaningful analysis of, the conduct or consequences of controversy.

The winner of the Sterling Prize will give a public lecture, performance, or exhibition of his/her work in October of the year in which the award is made. Generally, the prize is to be awarded to students, faculty, staff and alumni of SFU. However, the Sterling Prize may also be awarded to a person unconnected to Simon Fraser University.

To win, the work must be more than simply controversial. It should present new ways of looking at the world, be daring and creative, decidedly unconventional and distinctly untraditional. In short, the Sterling Prize celebrates work that challenges complacency. But it must also meet recognizably high standards and be morally and ethically sound.

"This is an unusual venture in a world in which controversy is discouraged rather than encouraged,” Nora and Ted Sterling explained. “We hope, that by providing a substantial reward for creative, unconventional effort, it will contribute to works of this nature gaining both a forum and a degree of respectability."

"As well, we believe that SFU is less conventional and 'stuffy' than most universities and hope the Sterling Prize will help generate and kindle untraditional and adventurous new work at the university,' they continued.

"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."