Book Award for the ELRC

Prof Lotz-Sisitka's book cover
Prof Lotz-Sisitka's book cover

The ELRC are pleased to announce that one of their recent publications ‘Critical Realism, Environmental Learning and Social Change’ (Routledge, 2016) has been awarded the Cheryl Frank Memorial Prize for 2016. 

The book was edited by Professor Heila Lotz-Sisitka and Dr Leigh Price (Senior Research Associate), and contains 16 chapters that were penned by Rhodes University Environmental Learning Research Centre PhD researchers, staff members and associates. 12 of the 16 Chapters are based on PhD research that has been conducted in the ELRC, and supervised by Professor Lotz-Sisitka.

The Cheryl Frank Memorial Prize is awarded annually by the International Association of Critical Realism (IACR) for a book or article that constitutes, motivates or exemplifies the best and/or most innovative writing in or about the tradition of critical realism, including the philosophy of metaReality, in the previous year.

The Cheryl Frank Committee consists of one nominee each from IACR, the Centre for Critical Realism and the Journal of Critical Realism. This year’s judges were Jamie Morgan, Tone Skinningsrud and Nick Wilson. Alan Norrie chaired the panel.

The Winners for 2016

The joint winners of the prize for 2016 are: the late Roy Bhaskar for his book (edited by Mervyn Hartwig) Enlightened Common Sense (Routledge); and Leigh Price and Heila Lotz-Sisitka for their book Critical Realism, Environmental Learning and Social-Ecological Change (Routledge).
Enlightened Common Sense was regarded as a pleasure to read, and also helpful in establishing connections and summarizing the structure of arguments from previous works. It is also a novel contribution in that it pursues the connections between critical realism and other areas of research, for example critical discourse analysis (CDA) and interdisciplinary research. It is the first occasion on which the three phases of Bhaskar’s work have been brought together as a whole. The judges noted the contribution of Mervyn Hartwig in editing this work and making it available to a readership.

Critical Realism, Environmental Learning and Social-Ecological Change was regarded as the most ‘motivating’ of the nominations, representing an impressive overall project in an important subject area. The panel found the mix of contributions, the focus on environmental learning, on South Africa, and applied work at PhD level and above, as well as the attempt to span all three phases of CR, all to be very commendable and, in part, valuable because of the level at which it is pitched. It is a collective project worthy of winning the prize.

 The committee wished also to give special mention to the following book: Dave Elder-Vass, Profit and Gift in the Digital Economy (Cambridge University Press). Whilst regarding the book as excellent in its own right, the judges did not think it was as substantively oriented to, or motivated by the development of, critical realism as the winning volumes.

Past recipients of the Prize:

Christian Smith, What is a person? (The University of Chicago Press)
Alan Norrie, Dialectic and difference. Dialectical Critical Realism and the grounds of justice (Routledge)
Chris Sarra, Strong and Smart: Towards a Pedagogy for Emancipation (Routledge)
Ruth Groff, Ontology Revisited: Metaphysics in Social and Political Philosophy (Routledge)
Nick Hostettler, Eurocentrism: A Marxian Critical Realist Critique (Routledge)
Lena Gunnarsson, The Contradictions of Love: Towards a Feminist-Realist Ontology of Sociosexuality (Routledge)

Matthew L. N. Wilkinson for his book A Fresh Look at Islam in a Multi-Faith World: A Philosophy for Success through Education

Pierpaolo Donati and Margaret Archer, The Relational Subject (Cambridge University Press)
Douglas Porpora for his Reconstructing Sociology: the Critical Realist Approach (Cambridge University Press)

The editorial and book production process was supported through a generous grant from the Rhodes University Sandisa Imbewu programme funding, granted to upscale publishing in the ELRC. Professor Lotz-Sisitka with co-editors also managed to edit a second book with support from this funding in the period between 2012 – 2016.

For further information on the book ‘Critical Realism, Environmental Learning and Social Change’, can be obtained from