The Guillermo O’Donnell Democracy Award and Lectureship honors the distinguished career and pioneering intellectual leadership of the late Guillermo O’Donnell. This annual, Association-wide award and lectureship recognizes either outstanding scholarship in the field of democracy studies or particularly meritorious public service that promotes democracy and democratic values in Latin America and the Caribbean. The recipient is invited to give a keynote lecture at each LASA Congress at which the award is made.
Guillermo O’Donnell (1936-2011) was for nearly four decades the most influential social scientist studying contemporary Latin America. At the time of his death in his native Buenos Aires, he was Emeritus Professor of Political Science and Senior Fellow at the Kellogg Institute for International Affairs at the University of Notre Dame. He had previously served as the Helen Kellogg Professor of Government and International Studies (1982-2005) and founding Academic Director of the Kellogg Institute (1982-1997) at the University of Notre Dame, and Director of the Centro de Estudios de Estado y Sociedad (1976-1979) in Argentina. He received his LL.B. from the Universidad Nacional de Buenos Aires in 1958 and his M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees in Political Science from Yale University in, respectively, 1971 and 1988. Among many distinguished positions, Professor O’Donnell served as President (1988-1991) and Vice-President (1982-1985, 1985-1988) of the International Political Science Association and Vice-President of the American Political Science Association (1999-2000). He was visiting fellow or visiting professor at (in chronological order) Princeton University, the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, the University of California-Berkeley, the Instituto Juan March (Madrid), Stanford University, the University of Cambridge, and the University of Oxford, and he held doctor honoris causa degrees from universities in Argentina (two), Chile, Germany, and Peru. He was named a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1995. In 2003 LASA awarded him its highest honor, the Kalman Silvert Award for lifetime achievement.
Professor O’Donnell was a highly original scholar whose deep insights into Latin American politics and social change set the agenda for research on authoritarianism and democracy in the region over the course of several decades. The Guillermo O’Donnell Democracy Award and Lectureship was established to honor the distinguished career and pioneering intellectual leadership of the late Guillermo O’Donnell.