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High School Essay and Workshops


2018 High School Essay Contest
 


Poverty, Inequality, Economic Theory and the Human Condition

How much do economic factors matter for social outcomes? How does our answer depend upon what we think people are and can do in the first place?

In his “Diary of a Writer”, Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky reflected upon an earlier experience with Russian revolutionaries and their social philosophy. One of them, an atheist named Vissarion Belinsky, had stated, “Man’s sins cannot be counted against him....When society is set up in such a mean fashion ... man cannot help but do wrong; economic factors alone lead him to do wrong; and it is absurd and cruel to demand from a man something the very laws of nature make it impossible for him to carry out, even if he wanted to.”

Reflecting upon this in light of his faith, Dostoevsky responded, “In making the individual dependent on every flaw in the social structure,…the doctrine of the environment reduces the subject to an absolute non-entity, exempting him totally from every personal moral duty and from all independence, reduces him to the lowest form of slavery imaginable.”

These two views represent very different angles on human nature and social conditions.

Express in your own words what each of the authors might have meant and how they connect to social theory.

Entry Deadline

The 2018 Essay Contest closes on May 18, 2018.

Eligibility

The contest is open to high school students from grades 9-12.

Prizes

The first place winner receives a $1,000 cash prize and is eligible for a $1,000 scholarship if they attend Mount St. Mary’s University within three years.
The second place award is a $200 cash prize.

Contest Rules

To avoid disqualification, your essay must contain a coversheet containing the following information:

  1. Your name, mailing address and phone number;

  2. Your current grade level;

  3. The email address at which you may be contacted;

  4. The name and address of your school;

  5. The name of a teacher or guidance counselor at your school who is aware of your essay submission; and

  6. The name, email address and phone number of a legal parent and/or guardian who has given permission for you to submit an essay to this contest (only necessary if the contest entrant is under the age of 18).

Judging

Essays will be judged on both style and content. Judges will look for writing that is clear, articulate and logically organized. Mount St. Mary’s University faculty associated with the BB&T Center for the Study of the Moral Foundations of Capitalism will be responsible for judging the essays and selecting a winner.

Additional Contest Rules:
  • Mount St. Mary’s University and BB&T employees, and their immediate family members, are not eligible for this contest.

  • Entrants under 18 years of age must have the agreement of a legal parent and/or guardian to submit an essay to this contest.

  • Entries must be submitted, in English, by May 18, 2018, 11:59 p.m. Eastern.

  • Essay must be solely the work of the entrant. Plagiarism will result in disqualification. MLA format is encouraged for documenting sources.

  • One entry per student, please. No purchase necessary to win.

  • Essay must be no fewer than 1,000 and no more than 1,600 words in length, and double-spaced.

  • The BB&T Center for the Study of the Moral Foundations of Capitalism at Mount St. Mary’s University has the right to provide contest deadline extensions when deemed appropriate.

  • Decisions of the judges are final.

  • All entries become the property of The BB&T Center for the Study of the Moral Foundations of Capitalism at Mount St. Mary’s University and will not be returned.

  • The eligibility status of the winner will be verified through consultation with the teacher or guidance counselor named on the coversheet.

  • The prize winner may be invited to Mount St. Mary’s University (either in Emmitsburg or Frederick) for an awards ceremony.

  • The prize winner and all other participants will be notified via email by May 25, 2018. The BB&T Center for the Study of the Moral Foundations of Capitalism at Mount St. Mary’s University reserves the right to adjust this date if deemed appropriate.

  • The contest winner agrees to allow The BB&T Center for the Study of the Moral Foundations of Capitalism at Mount St. Mary’s University to print his/her name in websites and newsletters and to announce his/her name at events. The winning essay may be posted in any of these media, with full credit given to the author.

  • Winners will be solely responsible for any federal, state or local taxes.


To engage young people in discussions about economics, the human condition and their connection to the moral underpinnings of capitalism and individual and business ethics, the BB&T Center for the Study of the Moral Foundations of Capitalism sponsors an annual essay competition. The competition requires students to write an essay on a topic about the nature of economics, capitalism and the ethical challenges facing business today.

 
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