Wilhelm Weber Prize for Christiane Woopen

Social Institute Kommende Dortmund honors ethicist from the University of Bonn

Ethicist Christiane Woopen of the University of Bonn received this year’s Wilhelm Weber Award in Dortmund for her many years of social commitment. The prize, named after the theologian and social scientist Wilhelm Weber (1925-1983), is awarded for "special services in the spirit of Catholic social ethics." During a ceremony at the Kommende Dortmund, the social institute of the archdiocese of Paderborn, former federal constitutional judge Paul Kirchhof gave the laudatory speech for the prize winner.

"Whenever fundamental questions of man and human life are at stake, her advice is in demand," said laudator Paul Kirchhof. The "art of the open question that breaks out of the conventional" is what distinguishes her.

Christiane Woopen is known to a wider public as an expert during the Covid 19 pandemic. She studied human medicine and philosophy. Since October 2021, she has held the first Heinrich Hertz Professorship in the Transdisciplinary Research Area "Individuals, Institutions and Societies" at the University of Bonn. Before joining the University of Bonn, she was Professor of Ethics and Theory of Medicine and Head of the Ethics Research Unit at the University of Cologne.

Interdisciplinary research into life

"Our mission is to develop framework conditions for a good, successful life for each individual and society," says Christiane Woopen. The focus of her research, teaching and consulting is life and the conditions for its development and flourishing: "Technologization, economization, ecologization and globalization put individual and social life under great pressure to transform and shape," she says. At the new Center for Life Ethics, she and her colleagues conduct transdisciplinary research into these four dynamics and the ethical aspects associated with them.

The Minister President of North Rhine-Westphalia, Hendrik Wüst, also congratulated Woopen on receiving the prize by video. Woopen, he said, was a role model for how people resolutely stood up for human dignity and fundamental rights. Among other things, the Minister President thanked her for her work on the NRW Corona Expert Council. Markus Kiefer, representing the family of the founder of the Wilhelm Weber Award, particularly emphasized the interdisciplinary merits of the award winner.

Christiane Woopen, a former scholarship holder and later employee of the Cusanuswerk Episcopal Study Support Program, is one of the leading ethicists, not only in Germany. She was a member of the International Bioethics Committee of UNESCO and chairwoman of the German as well as the European Ethics Council. In 2017, she was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit 1st Class for her broad social commitment.

The Wilhelm Weber Prize

In 2021, the Social Institute Kommende Dortmund has taken over the sponsorship of the Wilhelm Weber Prize. Chairman of the independent board of trustees for awarding the prize is the director of the Social Institute, Prelate Dr. Peter Klasvogt. The prize commemorates the theologian and social scientist Wilhelm Weber, long-time holder of the traditional Chair of Christian Social Sciences at the University of Münster. Christiane Woopen will donate this year’s prize money of 3,000 euros to help homeless young people of the Social Service of Catholic Women (SkF) in Cologne.

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