Institute for the Arts and Humanities

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Past Programs

IAH Medal for Distinguished Achievement

Established in 2006, the Medal honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the arts and humanities and whose work has furthered public awareness of the importance of scholarship, literature, and the arts. During their time on campus, honorees engage in a series of activities – a public lecture, a seminar with graduate students and faculty, a taped public-broadcasting interview. The inaugural recipient of this award was internationally acclaimed novelist and public intellectual Salman Rushdie. The Medal, designed by award-winning medalist and Penn State alumna Jeanne Stevens-Sollman, is awarded annually. The program is made possible by generous funding from a National Endowment for the Humanities Challenge Grant, awarded to the Institute in 2002.

2014 Award Winner: Margaret Atwood


The Institute for the Arts and Humanities is pleased to announce that the recipient of its 2014 Medal for Distinguished Achievement will be Margaret Atwood.

Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa, and grew up in northern Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. She received her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto and her master’s degree from Radcliffe College.

Atwood is the author of more than forty volumes of poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and non-fiction, but is best known for her novels, which include The Edible Woman (1969), The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), The Robber Bride (1994), Alias Grace (1996), and The Blind Assassin, which won the prestigious Booker Prize in 2000. Her newest novel, MaddAddam (2013), is the final volume in a three-book series that began with the Man-Booker prize-nominated Oryx and Crake (2003) and continued with The Year of the Flood (2009). The Tent (mini-fictions) and Moral Disorder (short fiction) both appeared in 2006. Her most recent volume of poetry, The Door, was published in 2007. In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination, a collection of non-fiction essays appeared in 2011. Her non-fiction book, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth was adapted for the screen in 2012. Ms. Atwood’s work has been published in more than forty languages, including Farsi, Japanese, Turkish, Finnish, Korean, Icelandic, and Estonian.

Ms. Atwood will visit Penn State on November 12-13, 2014. She will receive the IAH Medal at the State Theatre onWednesday, November 12 at 7:30 pm, and will offer a Penn State Forum talk the following day, at the Nittany Lion Inn at noon. The Medal Ceremony is free and open to the public. Penn State Forum tickets may be purchased through the id+ office: phone: 814-865-7590 / email: / address: 103 HUB-Robeson Center. 

Please call (814) 865-0495 or write to for more information.

Margaret Atwood's Conversations from Penn State interview is available online.

Past IAH Medal Winners