David Samson (photo by Drew Lesiuczok)

David Samson wins Balsillie Prize in Public Policy

David Samson, an associate professor of evolutionary anthropology at the University of Toronto Mississauga, has won the 2023 Balsillie Prize for Public Policy awarded by the Writers’ Trust of Canada.

The Balsillie Prize is awarded annually for a non-fiction book that advances and influences policy debates on a wide range of social, political, economic or cultural topics relevant to Canadians, and carries a $60,000 cash prize. Samson was recognized for Our Tribal Future: How to Channel our Foundational Human Instincts Into a Force for Good, published by St. Martin’s Press.

“This award is not only a personal honour but also a recognition of the importance of understanding our shared evolutionary roots in shaping a brighter future,” said Samson, who is currently on leave to promote the book. He added he was thrilled and “grateful to the jury and everyone who's been part of this incredible journey.” 

Jurors called Samson’s book an “important contribution to our public policy toolkit,” writing that Samson “provides a tour de force of how our tribal brains operate in our modern world. Things that were essential to our survival in the past now potentially imperil our future.”   

Samson is the director of the Sleep and Human Evolution Lab based in U of T Mississauga. His research aims to answer questions about human uniqueness along with the conditions and attributes that make our species “the most successful animal on the planet.”