Professor Alice Roberts has received the award for Humanist of the Year this weekend at a special British Humanist Association (BHA) awards ceremony at the Grand Hotel in Bristol, as part of its 2015 Annual Conference.
The BHA has a long tradition of celebrating individuals who have contributed not only to the success and vigour of the modern humanist movement, but also to the betterment of society more generally. The award was established to commend exceptional campaigning in challenge of religious privilege, significant contributions to humanist thought and activism, and work to promote understanding of Humanism.
Alice Roberts is a physician, anatomist, anthropologist, osteoarchaeolgist, paleopathologist, and evolutionary biologist, and is the current Professor of Public Engagement in Science at Birmingham University in addition to being a Patron of the BHA who has shown serious commitment to promoting public understanding of Humanism.
Alice was a record-breaking success as the BHA’s 2014 Darwin Day lecturer, whose sell-out lecture on ‘How to make a human’ made for a fascinating journey into the development of a human life. Since becoming a BHA Patron, she has used her profile to speak out about issues around education in schools; the plight of humanists under threat in places like Bangladesh and Russia; and efforts to legalise humanist marriage in England and Wales.
Bristol was a fitting location for the award, as one of Alice’s most high-profile campaigns for the BHA involved the city. In 2014, she helped to spearhead a BHA complaint about a creationist zoo in Bristol which wrongly received an award from the Government for its teaching.
BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson said, ‘Alice is a scientist of considerable breadth and acclaim and one of the finest science communicators active today, not to mention a dedicated advocate of Humanism. It is an enormous pleasure to recognise her significant contributions to our movement by awarding her as 2015’s Humanist of the Year.’
Previous recipients of BHA awards include novelists Sir Terry Pratchett and Philip Pullman, journalist Polly Toynbee, Nigerian human rights activist Leo Igwe, evolutionary biologists Julian Huxley and Richard Dawkins, and philosopher A J Ayer.
The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.