Martin E. Marty Award for the Public Understanding of Religion


The Martin E. Marty Award for the Public Understanding of Religion, established in 1996, recognizes extraordinary contributions to the public understanding of religion. The award goes to individuals whose work has a relevance and eloquence that speaks, not just to scholars, but more broadly to the public as well. The Marty Award is not a "lifetime achievement award" but instead a recognition of exceptional work that fits the criteria above, at any stage in that person's career.

View a list of past winners.

Nomination Instructions

  • Relevant contributions may involve work with any of a number of specific “publics,” including (but not limited to) educational institutions, foundations, governmental agencies, media (i.e. print, audio and video), museums, business, non-profit and non-governmental organizations, policy and research institutes, think-tanks, etc.; and can be through any medium (e.g., books, films, TV, public speaking, advisory, etc.).
  • Nominees need not be AAR members or academics, but should be individuals whose contribution to the public good is based on scholarship in religious studies or theology.
  • Nominators are required to share a brief description of why the nominee meets the Marty Award requirements. 
  • Once the nominator submits the nomination form, the nominee is notified and asked to submit a digital nomination packet including a current CV and a professional statement outlining contributions to the public understanding of religion.
  • Nominations and self-nominations are welcomed. Submit here

Selection Process

  • Nominations are compiled by AAR staff and discussed by the Committee on the Public Understanding of Religion (CPUR) in its capacity as the award jury. A vote of the committee determines the winner.
  • CPUR typically selects the winner 12-18 months in advance of its presentation at the Annual Meeting in order to increase the likelihood of securing commitments for attendance from awardees. Nominations received by the January 25th deadline will be considered at the spring CPUR meeting. Nominations are active for three meetings of the CPUR, ensuring that they receive consideration for two award cycles.
  • The Marty Award is presented to the winner by the CPUR chair at the Marty Forum, a 90-minute session held on the Sunday afternoon of the AAR Annual Meeting. Following the award presentation, the winner sits for an extended interview with a distinguished interlocutor to discuss her or his life and work.

Annual Deadline

January 25