It is social justice and historical necessity to award Professor Ewa Letowska the Courage in Public Scholarship Award. For us — an openly gay couple in Poland — the works and media activism Professor Letowska has always been a beacon of hope. She has voiced freedom and tolerance, more: acceptance and celebration of the “Other” when she published an important article supporting the right to same-sex marriage in a prestigious journal Panstwo i Prawo (co-authored with Jan Wolenski).

We would like to applaud the extraordinary achievement of Professor Letowska as Poland’s first ombudsperson, forward-looking lawyer, and public intellectual. Hers is an independent, critical voice in Poland’s worsening anti-democratic reality.

We remember her working for human rights in this country for decades.

We also recall her important presence at Cracow’s Democracy & Diversity Institute in 1998 when she was teaching us women’s rights. We had wine together on the Vistula terrace and discussed opera, Professor Letowska’s passion. In fact, she is a diva of jurisprudence, activism, and public service.

Right now, when democracy in Poland is disappearing, her deep voice of wisdom (a contralto) is one of the rare progressive stances of freedom in our part of Europe.

To conclude, Ewa Letowska epitomizes courage! She is our model. Her esprit encompasses spirit engaged in public affairs — and penetrating, fearless wit.

We would also like to thank the initiators of the award: the Transregional Center for Democratic Studies, New School Europe and its alumni network, in particular Professors Elzbieta Matynia, Adrian Totten, Shireen Hassim, Delina Fico, Hana Cervinkova, Juliet Golden, Robert Kostrzewa, and Jeff Goldfarb.

Brava, Professor Letowska!


To read Professor Letowska’s keynote address, “The Rule of Law on the Peripheries of Europe,” click here