Columbusprise blev overrakt den 28. oktober 2021 til projektleder, professor Michael Bang Petersen (til venstre) fra Aarhus Universitet samt  til professor Sune Lehmann fra DTU. Foto: Fotograf Brian Berg for Forlaget Columbus

The HOPE project is honored for important Corona research

Friday 29 Oct 21


Sune Lehmann Jørgensen
DTU Compute
+45 45 25 39 04

The Columbus Prize

  • The Columbus Prize is established by FALS, social studies teachers in High School and HF ("Higher Preparatory Examination Programme), and Forlaget Columbus (publisher).
  • The prize is awarded on appropriate occasions to a person or institution who, in the public debate, sticks to the ideas of democracy, genuine political commitment and the importance of factual arguments - and who thereby makes it exciting to be a teacher in social studies.
  • The award is DKK 50,000, and it cannot be applied for.
  • Read more on Forlaget Columbus' website (Danish)

The HOPE team from AU, KU and DTU receives the Columbus Prize 2021 for clear communication about the Danes' behavior during the COVID-19 crisis.

When Denmark has managed to get through the corona crisis relatively well so far, it is largely due to the population's confidence in the political handling and our willingness to change behavior in line with the development of the pandemic.

Here, the Danish project 'HOPE - How Democracies Cope with Covid19: A Data-Driven Approach' - has played an important role. The research team from Aarhus University, the University of Copenhagen and DTU have explained in an easy-to-understand way why the Danish restrictions were necessary to prevent the spread of infection by showing data about our behavior.

Now the team behind the project is awarded the Columbus Prize 2021, which is awarded by the social studies teachers in High School and HF ("Higher Preparatory Examination Programme), and Forlaget Columbus (publisher).

"HOPE has played a crucial role in corona management. At the same time the project in the daily teaching of social studies has been a goldmine of current data, a really good example of how to do research. HOPE has also made it clear to students, why social science plays a crucial role in society, which is why HOPE is the obvious recipient of the Columbus Prize 2021, says Janne Wikman, chair of the Columbus Foundation and social studies teacher at Aarhus Cathedral School.

HOPE in a difficult time
A few weeks after the Danish lockdown in March 2020 due to COVID-19, the Carlsberg Foundation granted DKK 25 million to the HOPE project. In the project, the researchers have combined computer science, behavioral psychology and political science to see if the corona crisis management has worked, and if more should / could be done.

DTU is represented in HOPE with Professor Sune Lehmann, a postdoc and a PhD student - all from the research section Cognitive Systems at DTU Compute. The researchers are pleased with the recognition of the Columbus Prize:

"This is a project that has managed to get beyond the ramp and make a difference in a huge societal crisis. I am proud to be a part of that."
Sune Lehmann, Professor at DTU Compute

“It is especially fantastic because the award shows that we have reached the goal of one of the main points with HOPE, which was to communicate actively about our research. This is a project that has managed to get beyond the ramp and make a difference in a huge societal crisis. I am proud to be a part of that,” says Sune Lehmann.

Data must make crisis management better
As Denmark is currently not subject to restrictions and closure, the researchers at HOPE are conducting more traditional research.

“We look at all our many data sets and try to find general patterns and principles in what has happened. So we can be better prepared for the next crisis,” says Sune Lehmann.

One of the key features of the corona pandemic is the marked differences that exist between the approaches of different countries. What strategies prevented the infection, and which cost lives? HOPE's data analyzes of the Danes' behavior during the pandemic will at the same time give the next generations a unique insight into the everyday life during the pandemic, which will be a central event in Danish history.

The HOPE project

  • HOPE - How Democracies Cope with Covid19: A Data-Driven Approach - is funded by the Carlberg Foundation with DKK 25 million.
  • The team behind HOPE comes from Aarhus University (lead), the University of Copenhagen and DTU.
  • HOPE's research is interdisciplinary and for the use of both research and authorities. The project publishes reports, articles and other contributions.
  • By combining big data and machine learning with, among other things, behavioral psychology, HOPE must both help us through the COVID-19 crisis and make us wiser on how to handle future crises better.

The researchers are investigating:

  • the course of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • decisions of governments and international organizations
  • decisions of the media and social media landscapes
  • citizens' behavior and well-being

Read more on the HOPE project's website