A UW-Madison political science professor has been named the winner of a prestigious prize for his work researching genocide, particularly in Africa.

Scott Straus won the 2018 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order, for his 2015 book “Making and Unmaking Nations: War, Leadership and Genocide in Modern Africa.”

The annual $100,000 award is presented by the University of Louisville and draws entries from around the world.

Straus specializes in the study of genocide, political violence, human rights and African politics.

In his book, Straus explains how ideas and political messages can become tipping points for genocide, with his research looking at patterns and circumstances resulting in genocide, and contrasting those with similar situations where genocide could have happened but didn’t.

Straus was a journalist in the mid-1990s, covering the aftermath of genocide in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“I am very pleased the award committee chose a book about genocide for its selection on improving world order,” Straus said. “There are many pressing global challenges. To me, understanding and preventing genocide remains a global priority, but I worry that such a view is not widely shared. The award, I hope, will bring renewed attention to the topic.”

The Grawemeyer Awards are given for outstanding works in five categories, including world order, music composition, psychology, education and religion. The religion prize is given jointly with the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

The winners will be in Louisville in April to accept their prizes.

One of the previous winners of the World Order prize was Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, for his 1988 address to the United Nations calling for international cooperation among nations.

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Bill Novak is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.