Article 2 of the Constitution of the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation reads as follows:

Within the context of the cultural traditions of Europe in general and the ideas of Erasmus in particular, the aim of the Foundation is to enhance the position of the humanities, social sciences and the arts. The emphasis lies on tolerance, cultural diversity and non-dogmatic, critical thinking. The Foundation tries to achieve this aim by awarding prizes and by other means. A cash prize is awarded under the name of the ‘Erasmus Prize’.

In accordance with this article, the Board of the Foundation has decided to award the Erasmus Prize 2015 to the Wikipedia Community. The Prize is being awarded to Wikipedia for the following reasons:

  • Wikipedia has given a fabulous impulse to the use of digital media for science and culture.
  • Wikipedia is built on the efforts, the intrinsic motivation and drive of thousands of volunteers, making up the Wikipedia community. Collectively, they have created a new, non-hierarchical, collaborative system for the collection and global distribution of knowledge.
  • Wikipedia projects such as Wikipedia Zero have contributed to make information freely available for people who until recently did not have access, or limited access, to these sources of knowledge.
  • By structuring the process of information gathering for the encyclopedia, Wikipedia has transformed and democratized the way in which we assemble knowledge.
  • Finally, Wikipedia has stimulated critical discourse and drawn new attention to fundamental questions of finding the truth and to the need to critically examine one’s sources.