In 1622, Johan Skytte donated land and property to Uppsala University in order to establish a professorship in political science and eloquence. Johan Skytte, by then a leading Swedish statesman and vice-chancellor of Uppsala University, observed that while Sweden usually excelled at the field of battle, she tended to underperform at the ensuing negotiation table. Johan Skytte was determined the new chair at Uppsala University could help to change this by offering training in the art of eloquence and politics. Over the years, the donation which was intended to be independent has become part of Uppsala University’s collective assets and funds. In 1979, the eleventh patron of the Skytte Foundation, Count Nils-Axel Mörner, demanded and campaigned for the restoration of an independent foundation that would guard Johan Skytte’s assets. This request was granted and the Skytte Foundation began its new chapter.
The restoration of the foundation’s independence saw a considerable amount of funds and assets returned under the management of the foundation. The newly appointed board agreed that the assets should be used in a wise and constructive manner, and – in one way or another, in the memory of Johan Skytte. In 1994, the idea of a Prize in political science was born, a brainchild of the patron of the foundation, Nils-Axel Mörner and then Johan Skytte Professor, Leif Lewin. From 1995 until today, 25 prominent political scientists have been awarded the Prize which rewards the most remarkable achievements within the field of political science. The prize grew in prestige over the years and has been likened to the Nobel Prizes in terms of importance and role-model potential.
In addition to the Skytte Prize, the Foundation runs its own publishing house. Its most recent publication is an excellent resource mapping the histories of Johan Skytte, his donation and 20 Skytte Prize Winners. The publication authored by Nils-Axel Mörner and Li Bennich-Björkman marks the 20th anniversary of the Skytte Prize. The book is free of charge and you can download it here.
In preparation for the 400th anniversary of the Foundation in 2022, the Foundation unveiled a new logo and launched a new website for the Johan Skytte Prize.
The Foundation is governed by a 6-strong board, including the patron Count Jonas Mörner, current Skytte Professor of Political Science Li Bennich-Björkman, vice-chancellor of Uppsala University Anders Hagfeldt, treasurer Anders Barth, secretary Jacob von Ehrenheim and board member Henrik Borelius.