Dr. Joseph S. Renzulli, 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award winner

For more than 40 years, the research and advocacy of Dr. Joseph S. Renzulli have reverberated across classrooms nationwide, revolutionizing curriculum development, teaching techniques, and learning models. With a focus on the identification and development of creativity and giftedness in young people, his organizational models and curricular strategies have resulted in numerous pedagogical breakthroughs.

Positing that creativity is inextricably linked with giftedness and “viewing giftedness as a displayed behavior rather than a possessed trait,” Dr. Renzulli’s efforts have for decades led to the development of new strategies to identify students for participation in gifted and talented programs. His impact has extended through his advocacy, emphasizing the need to apply the pedagogy and strategies common in gifted education to improve learning environments for all students.

His 1978 publication in Phi Delta Kappan, “What Makes Giftedness? Reexamining a Definition,” would “blaze the trail for what is now a hallmark of gifted education, talent development,” according to Dr. Melissa Mitchell. Later, his groundbreaking work on The Three Ring Conception of Giftedness, the Entrenchment Model, and curriculum compacting and differentiation would all be viewed as pioneering education efforts.

“Dr. Renzulli’s lifetime of pioneering research has led to substantial, positive changes in the theory and practice of pedagogy for all.” Mensa Foundation President Charlie Steinhice said. “But what impresses me the most is his dedication to putting those ideas into action, especially for low-income students with high potential.”

Dr. Renzulli has been recognized with numerous educational and research accolades. He’s the recipient of three Mensa Foundation Awards for Excellence in Research (2003, 2013, and 2019), has been named one of the 25 most influential psychologists in the world by the American Psychological Association, and was honored in 2009 with the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Award for Innovation in Education — one of the most prestigious honors in the field.

Dr. Renzulli is professor of educational psychology at the University of Connecticut and has served as the director of the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented and as a consultant to the White House Task Force on Education of the Gifted and Talented. A founding director of the University of Connecticut’s Neag Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development, the center was renamed the Renzulli Center for Creativity, Gifted Education, and Talent Development in 2016 in his honor.

The Mensa Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award is presented every other year in recognition of a lifetime of contributions to the field of intelligence and related subjects.