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Princess of Asturias Awards

06/10/2009

The National Autonomous University of Mexico, Prince of Asturias Award Laureate for Communication and Humanities

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The National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) has been bestowed the 2009 Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities. The decision was announced today by the Jury in Oviedo.

Its close to 300.000 students and over 34,000 professors and researchers make the UNAM the largest university in Ibero-America. Over the course of its almost one-hundred-year history, it has become a point of reference, combining quality and an extensive academic and research offering with its firm commitment to disseminate culture, humanism and new technologies. 

This candidature has been proposed by Carmelo Angulo Barturen, Spain's ambassador to Mexico. Included amongst the over 1,500 letters of support that were received are letters by Prince of Asturias Award Laureates Francisco Bolívar Zapata, Marcos Moshinsky, Ricardo Miledi, Antonio García Bellido, Pablo Rudomín, Carlos Fuentes and the Colegio de México, as well as by writers Gabriel García Márquez and Enrique Krauze, Spanish minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos and the rectors of the universities of Seville, Granada, Barcelona, Valencia, Alcalá, Charles III, Autonoma de Madrid and Malaga.

The National Autonomous University of Mexico was founded in 1910 as a centre for higher education to succeed the Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico, which itself was founded in 1551 following the Salamanca University model. In 1929, as a result of internal social reform, the federal Government granted the university its still-current autonomous status, resulting in its present-day name of National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). Currently, it has become the most important public centre for higher education in the United States of Mexico and one of the most important in Ibero-America. 

The UNAM has a total of 18 faculties and 4 university schools, as well as 46 institutes and research centres. It has branches in every State in Mexico as well as small foreign campuses in the United States (Chicago, Los Angeles and San Antonio) and Canada (Gatineau). It has a total of 299,688 registered students this academic year, divided amongst secondary education, bachelor's degrees and postgraduate studies. 34,835 researchers and teachers make up its teaching staff.

In the field of Humanities, the UNAM stands out for its open approach to Ibero-American thought and its role as a reception centre for intellectuals and professors that were exiled after the Spanish Civil War. Its research institutes in History, Philosophy, Philology and Aesthetics have published over 2,700 books and 16 journals.

The UNAM manages the National Library and the National Newspaper Library, as well as its own system of 141 libraries. Its many facets lets it boast a wide cultural offering, including philharmonic orchestras -whose home base is the renowned Nezahualcóyotl concert hall- and a symphony orchestra; a radio station and a television channel; the most important film library in the country, the University Centre for Film Studies, which is the oldest film school in Latin America and a network of university museums that cover a wide range of fields, with spaces for exhibiting various artistic expressions along with history, sociology, science and technology. The UNAM has its own digital portal as well as many others for its numerous centres, making it the best in Ibero-America. 3 Nobel Prize winners have studied at the UNAM as well as 8 of the 10 Mexican Prince of Asturias Award Laureates. Its main campus in Mexico City, the University City, which was inaugurated in 1954, was named World Heritage site of the UNESCO in 2007 for being an example of a modernist monumental complex of the 20th century.  It has several buildings in Mexico City's Historic Downtown, also a World Heritage site.

This year a total of 20 candidatures from Brazil, Canada, Colombia, France, Germany, Iran, Mexico, Slovenia, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, United States and Spain ran for the award.

This is the fourth of eight Prince of Asturias Awards to be bestowed this year for the twenty-ninth time. The Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts went to Norman Foster, the Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation was given to the World Health Organization and the Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences was given to british naturalist David Attenborough. The following weeks will herald the announcements of the following awards: Technical and Scientific Research and Letters. The Prince of Asturias Awards for Sports and Concord will be announced in September.

Each Prince of Asturias Award, which date back to 1981, comprises a diploma, a Joan Miró sculpture representing and symbolising the Awards, an insignia bearing the Foundation's coat of arms, and a cash prize of 50,000 Euros. The awards will be presented in the autumn in Oviedo at a grand ceremony chaired by H.R.H. the Prince of Asturias.

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