By Bonnie Snyder December 21, 2017
There’s still time to enter FIRE’s Free Speech Essay Contest … but not much!
Let’s cut right to the chase. We’re prepared to award $10,000 in prize scholarship money to the best essay on this topic: Explain in 800-1000 words why free speech is so important to higher education, and why censorship undermines the ideals of liberal education and a free society.
At FIRE, we defendindividual rights at America’s colleges and universities. These rights include freedom of speech, legal equality, due process, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience — the essential qualities of individual liberty and dignity. In addition to defending the rights of students and faculty, FIRE works to educate students and the general public on the necessity of free speech and its importance to a thriving democratic society.
If you are a high schooler who also believes that these basic constitutional rights are important — especially in academia — then we encourage you to gather your thoughts together in a well-constructed essay and submit it to our contest before time runs out. This year’s contest concludes at midnight on December 31, 2017, and we’ll be announcing the winners (5 top winners and 4 runners-up) by January 31, 2018. (You can check out some past winners here.)
Free speech is currently under tremendous pressure in academia, but there’s something you can do about it: speak up! Submit your free speech essay to FIRE and take part in defending First Amendment rights on college campuses. We’re looking forward to reading your entry.
About the Contest
The Lasker Essay Contest engages young scientists and clinicians in a discussion about big questions in biology and medicine, and the role of biomedical research in our society today. The Contest aims to build skills in communicating important medical and scientific issues to broader audiences. The Essay Contest topics are announced annually no later than the second week of February and can be found on this webpage.
The topic of the 2018 Essay Contest is: How can social media help build trust in science and the research enterprise? Your answer should include a discussion of the benefits and challenges of your recommendations.
The deadline to submit all materials is March 30, 2018. Winners will be announced in early July on our web site.
The Contest is open to medical school students, interns, residents, and fellows; doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows in biomedical research; graduate students in public health programs; and graduate students in other health professions programs. The 2018 Essay Contest is open to both US and international applicants, including those from programs outside the US.
First-place award is $10,000 and an expense-paid trip (economy class travel and one-night hotel stay) to New York City to meet the 2018 Lasker Award winners (on September 21, 2018). Second- and third-place prizes are $5000 and $2500, respectively. All monetary prizes are to be used towards educational expenses.
Essays should be of 800 words or less and must be written in English. The file containing the essay should include the essay title and the applicant's name, email, and institutional affiliation. Figures and references are not required but one image (uploaded separately) and up to 10 references (included within the text body) may be submitted. Specific examples from the world of biomedical research should be included in your essay to illustrate your ideas more effectively. Field-specific scientific jargon should be avoided or explained.
Essays will be evaluated based on 1) the innovation of the ideas and proposals and 2) how well these ideas are conveyed, i.e. the quality of writing, style, and clarity. Essays that are not written in English or are longer than 800 words will not be considered.
Subscribe to our Newsletter to receive updates about the Essay Contest program and winners:
2017 essay contest and winners
2016 essay contest and winners
2015 essay contest and winners
2014 essay contest and winners
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