Nanovic Institute awards Laura Shannon Prize to Anna Grzymała-Busse, author of ‘Nations Under God’

Author: Monica Caro

Nations Under God

The Nanovic Institute for European Studies at the University of Notre Dame has awarded the 2017 Laura Shannon Prize in Contemporary European Studies to Anna Grzymała-Busse for her book “Nations Under God: How Churches Use Moral Authority to Influence Policy,” published by Princeton University Press.

A. James McAdams, director of the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, praised Grzymała-Busse’s scholarship, noting, “This is a remarkable book. It will fundamentally change the way scholars assess the power of churches in European democracies.”

The Nanovic Institute awards the prize annually to the author of the best book in European studies that transcends a focus on any one country, state or people to stimulate new ways of thinking about contemporary Europe as a whole, recognizing alternately books in the humanities and in history and the social sciences. This cycle considered books in history and the social sciences published in 2014 and 2015.

Sir Christopher Clark, Regius Professor of History at the University of Cambridge and previous Shannon prize recipient, described the $10,000 Laura Shannon Prize as “a major landmark in the world of humanities research and publishing” in the Anglophone world. The jury commended Grzymała-Busse’s book, stating: “‘Nations under God’ is an outstanding accomplishment of historically grounded and carefully contextualized comparative political science. Its richness of range and detailed empirical command are no less impressive than its conceptual and methodological sophistication. Together they make an exceedingly rare combination, appealing to historians and political scientists alike, while leaving scholars across the disciplines in its debt. Shining a carefully focused light on a remarkably neglected subject — the complex, variable relationship of religion to politics — Grzymała-Busse captures a patently important question of contemporary social and political life, develops a sophisticated research strategy for its investigation and delivers outcomes that are as fascinating and suggestive substantively as they are compelling methodologically. The case studies are ambitiously chosen and brilliantly carried off.”

Grzymała-Busse is Michelle and Kevin Douglas Professor of International Studies and Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. She will accept the award and present a lecture in the fall semester of 2017 at the University of Notre Dame. During the visit, Grzymała-Busse will engage in discussions with a variety of undergraduate and graduate students as well as faculty members.

The Guardians: The League of Nations and the Crisis of Empire

The jury also awarded an honorable mention to Susan Pedersen for her book “The Guardians: The League of Nations and the Crisis of Empire,” published by Oxford University Press. Pedersen is Gouverneur Morris Professor of History at Columbia University. The jury stated:

“In this beautifully crafted book, Susan Pedersen presents the reader with an intriguing story of an internationalist path-not-taken. Though far from romanticizing the League of Nations, Pedersen has written a sympathetic history of a time of lost opportunities that spans the globe. . . . Most interestingly, Pedersen tells what would seem at first glance a tale of inevitability as one hinging on contingency. . . . ‘The Guardians’ is a compelling read, an expansive and rigorously done piece of work.”

The members of this year’s final jury were George W. Breslauer, faculty director of the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life and executive vice chancellor and provost emeritus of University of California, Berkeley; E. Mark Cummings, Notre Dame Professor of Psychology, University of Notre Dame; Geoff Eley, Karl Pohrt Distinguished University Professor of contemporary history, University of Michigan; Patrick Griffin, Madden-Hennebry Professor of history, University of Notre Dame; and Adele Lindenmeyr, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and professor of history, Villanova University.

Now in its eighth year, the Laura Shannon Prize in Contemporary European Studies is made possible through a generous endowment from Michael and Laura Shannon of Houston, Texas. Laura serves on the Nanovic Institute’s Advisory Board and Michael, class of 1958, serves on Notre Dame’s Advisory Council for Graduate Studies and Research.

The Nanovic Institute for European Studies at the University of Notre Dame is committed to enriching the intellectual culture of Notre Dame by creating an integrated, interdisciplinary home for students and faculty to explore the evolving ideas, cultures, beliefs and institutions that shape Europe today. The institute is an integral part of Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs.

For additional information about the Nanovic Institute and the Laura Shannon Prize, visit

Contact: Monica Caro, 574-631-3547,