Rewarding Disobedience | 2018

David Silverman Photography

by Jessica Sousa

May 16, 2018

Nominations are now open for the second MIT Media Lab Disobedience Award, which carries a $250,000 cash prize, no strings attached. 

This award will go to a person or group engaged in what we believe is an extraordinary example of disobedience for the benefit of society: work that impacts society in positive ways, and is consistent with a set of key principles, including nonviolence, creativity, courage, and responsibility for one’s actions. We invite nominations for work across disciplines (scientific research, civil rights, freedom of speech, human rights, and the freedom to innovate, for example). 

You must fill out the online nomination form between May 16, 2018 and August 15, 2018. All required fields must be completed. You will receive an email confirmation acknowledging your nomination. A member of the selection committee may contact you for more information, if your nomination is chosen as a finalist. We will announce the winner on November 30, 2018.

Eligibility Requirements and Award Details

  • Recipient must be living at the time of nomination.
  • If an organization, it must be currently operational at the time of nomination.
  • Individuals, groups, and organizations cannot nominate themselves.
  • Recipient must have taken personal/professional risk in order to affect positive change.
  • If a group of people or an organization is awarded the prize, they will receive one $250,000 check to distribute at their own discretion.
  • This award is open to any person or group in the world as long as they follow the principles of nonviolent disobedience to impact society in positive ways. All disciplines are eligible.

We Take Privacy Seriously

This nomination form is secure and the information submitted will not be shared publicly and will be reviewed only by the selection committee. If your nominee is selected, we will contact him/her/them before making any announcement. We are mindful of privacy and the great risks involved in doing disobedient work. We will not disclose any information publicly without permission. If the person or organization you are nominating requires additional privacy measures, please contact and we can make arrangements to correspond via encrypted email or Signal.

2018 Selection Committee

We’ve gathered a diverse selection committee from the MIT Media Lab network—activists, scientists, designers, artists, and engineers—to review the nominations and select the award recipient(s).

Joi Ito: Director, MIT Media Lab
Jamila Raqib: Executive Director, Albert Einstein Institution
Ethan Zuckerman: Director, MIT Center for Civic Media
Maria Zuber: VP of Research, MIT
Mona Hanna-Attisha: Pediatrician, public health advocate, exposed the Flint Water crisis
Martha Minow: Professor of General Jurisprudence, Harvard Law School; Distinguished Service Professor, Harvard University
Gerald Holton: Mallinckrodt Professor of physics and history of science, emeritus, Harvard University
Ed Boyden: Associate Professor, MIT Media Lab
Elizabeth Hinton: Assistant professor, Departments of History and African and African American Studies, Harvard University
Mohamed Nanabhay: VP, Media Investment Development Fund
Ory Okolloh: Director, Omidyar Foundation