Centennial Contest

The AAUP Foundation is pleased to announce the winners of its Centennial Contest. The theme for the Contest was  “Academic Freedom: Its Concept, Its History, Its Successes, and Its Failures,” and the following submissions embody the Centennial Contest theme.

Winning Undergraduate Essay:

Mr. Marcus Wendel, Michigan State University

Submitted “Concerning the Necessary: Academic Freedom".  The essay made original use of Spinoza as a figure which speaks to contemporary struggles in realizing freedom of expression and thought; and utilized a blend of sources used to connect the issues to contemporary contexts.

Winning Graduate Essay:

Mr. Benji Cohen, University of Virginia

Submitted “Neoliberalism and Academic Freedom."  This essay astutely places into perspective how various neoliberal forces inhibit faculty autonomy and the consequences this has for academic freedom; it synthesizes a range of sources and takes on the ways a recent trend towards data-driven decision making contributes to loss of control in the professional lives of faculty. 

Winning Undergraduate Art:

Zsolt Portik, UCLA

Submitted a video that provided an interesting montage of "ordinary" campus scenes enhanced by dramatic color and editing effects, setting a mood that suggests something of expressive possibilities and transformation of perspective -- sensory and otherwise -- enabled by experiences of academic freedom. 

Winning Graduate Art:

Shane Lancer, Cornell University, New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations

Submitted an art piece entitled, “Precarious Pedagogy" which makes bold use of primary colors to convey how academic freedom becomes threatened when external forces impinge on the intellectual space of the classroom.

Contest Rules

The centennial contest is open to all students enrolled at accredited institutions of higher education in the United States. There will be separate competitions for essays and art, and separate awards will be given to undergraduates and graduate students. The winners in each of these four categories—undergraduate student essay, graduate student essay, undergraduate student art, and graduate student art—will receive prizes of $1,000. 

All submissions must address the theme “Academic Freedom: Its Concept, Its History, Its Successes, and Its Failures.” Submissions must be sent to centennialcontest@aaupfoundation.org by midnight (EST) on March 1, 2015. Up to two entries may be made by any one student. All entries must include the student’s full name, mailing address, and e-mail address as well as the name of the institution at which he or she is currently enrolled and the category (undergraduate or graduate student) of the entry. By submitting an essay or work of art, the student agrees that the work may be published if it is selected for an award and that the student will not be separately compensated for publication.

In addition, the following specific rules apply:

Essay Contest

  • Essays should be five pages in length and double-spaced, with pages numbered.
  • Essays must be submitted in English.
  • Essays submitted should not have been previously published in any form.

Art Contest

  • One or more photographs of the artwork are to be submitted by e-mail in JPEG format. The original art should not be submitted; submissions sent by mail will not be returned.
  • Works of art must be created by the student specifically for the academic freedom contest and should not have been previously published or exhibited elsewhere.

Uncertainties or confusion about these rules will be clarified by the AAUP Foundation’s Centennial Committee. Submissions will be judged on their merit and on how well they illuminate the aspect of academic freedom being treated, and winners will be announced at the AAUP’s June 2015 annual meeting. Eligibility will be determined by student status at the time of submission. The judges reserve the right to decide against making an award in any contest category on the basis of the quality of the entries received.

Help the AAUP Foundation publicize the centennial contest by discussing academic freedom with your students and posting a black and white flyer or a color flyer on your campus.