Celebrating Shu Kai Chan’s 100th birthday
On September 16, 2019 (on October 14, according to the Chinese calendar), Shu Kai Chan, founder of the A.SK Prize, celebrates his 100th birthday. Since 2007, the A.SK Social Science Award was awarded to seven prizewinners. The upcoming award ceremony for economist Raj Chetty will take place on November 5. In 2015, economist Esther Duflo was the winner of the A.SK Social Science Award. Together with Abhijit Banerjee and Michael Kremer, she has just been awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics.
Shu Kai Chan was born on September 16, 1919, in Canton as the son of a Chinese landowner family. At the age of 16, Shu Kai came to Germany for the first time. As he could not follow through his plans of starting an officer's training, he studied economics in Berlin, Wien, Frankfurt, and Marburg. Especially in Marburg he made close friends, but also experienced the growing xenophobia of the 1930s in the guesthouse he stayed in. During a vacation trip to Helsinki in 1939, he was surprised by the outbreak of the Second World War and left for Hong Kong without having returned to Germany before. His memories of his studies and his fascination with the culture and music of the country shaped him throughout his life. At Chongqing University, he studied the social sciences during the war, focussing on the possibilities for a new, more social capitalism; decades later, he published his book "Social Capitalism" (Tectum Verlag 2002). Together with his wife Angela, he led the department store of her family and later founded a thriving textile company importing European and US goods to Hong Kong and vice versa, just to name just the most important of his numerous companies. He led the Beijing Wax Museum, produced television films on Chinese culture, and lived in different countries like Hong Kong, Brazil and, since 1997, Costa Rica.
At the age of fifty, Shu Kai Chan went in search of the friends of his youth in Germany. Several times the search had to be broken off without success. It was not until ten years later that he found the former childhood friend and the son of the friend’s sister. To commemorate his time in Germany, he founded the A.SK Foundation in 2007 whose name bears the initials of Angela and Shu Kai. Every two years, the WZB awards the A.SK Social Science Award, the prize money of which was almost doubled on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the WZB in 2019 (it is now endowed with USD 200,000). In addition, several postdoctoral fellowships are funded every two years.
Since 2007, the A.SK Social Science Awards have been awarded to seven winners:
2019 Raj Chetty (Harvard University)
2017 John Ruggie (Harvard University)
2015 Esther Duflo (Massachusetts Institute for Technology)
2013 Paul Collier (University of Oxford)
2011 Transparency International
2009 Martha Nussbaum (University of Chicago)
2007 Anthony Atkinson (University of Oxford)
The members of the Price Commission, headed by economist Dorothea Kübler (WZB Berlin), are formal federal minister Klaus Töpfer, political scientist Tanja Börzel (FU Berlin), sociologist Craig Calhoun (Arizona State University), economist Sir Richard Blundell (University College London) and the President of the WZB Jutta Allmendinger. Former commissioners include the historian Werner Abelshauser (University of Bielefeld), the former Prime Minister of Saxony Kurt Biedenkopf, the political scientist Peter Katzenstein (Cornell University) and the political scientist Wolfgang Merkel (WZB, Berlin).