Summer 2006 Student Essay Contest

GOOD NEWS! The deadline for the essay contest has been extended to October 31. is committed to promoting a vigorous and informed worldview on the part of young people, particularly in the areas of international relations, U.S. domestic policy, and nonintervention. The reason for this is obvious: the young hold the future in their hands, so we had better do what we can to help them prepare. To this end, we at the Randolph Bourne Institute/ are pleased to announce the first annual Student Essay Contest.  A special fund has been developed for this purpose, and we’d like to thank those who have contributed (and if YOU would like to contribute, that would be wonderful).

Tell Me More About the Essay.

It’s summer – how will you keep your brain stimulated? Enter the essay contest! We are inviting students not yet out of high school to write on the general topic of peace. Why spend your precious free time doing this? Well, besides keeping your mind in training, you can win a cash prize and have something noteworthy with which to bolster your curriculum vitae or resumé!

Your essay should discuss peace and the problems of intervention, using as a prompt any of the quotes in the “Quotable” database (or you can provide your own quote, provided you document it). Example: “Those who give up essential liberties for temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety” by Benjamin Franklin. You might use this quote to discuss the PATRIOT Act and the perils of abridging essential rights for elusive gains against terrorism. Use, if possible, a combination of historical events (e.g., the treatment of Japanese Americans during WWII) and theoretical sources (e.g., Rights of Man) to discuss.  

In other words, students are requested to produce an essay that balances the writer’s own insights with current events and historical research. seeks to encourage students to engage their intellects – using data and the lessons of history – to advance their moral beliefs.

Who Can Enter and What Are the Prizes?

Essays will be judged in two categories: Senior (entering grades 10-12) and Junior (entering grade nine or below), with separate prizes awarded to the winners in each category. First prizes are $400; second prizes, $200; third prizes $100; and honorable mentions $50. Winners will be notified in December 2006; their schools will also be notified. The winning essays will be published on the site.

Who Decides the Winners?

The staff of the Randolph Bourne Institute, of which is a project, and/or the delegates they appoint, will choose the winner. 

What Is the Format?

Essays for Senior contestants should be between 1,500 and 2,000 words (approximately 5-6 pages double-spaced, excluding footnotes and bibliography). Essays for Junior contestants should be between 700 and 1,000 words (approximately 2-3 pages double-spaced, excluding footnotes and bibliography). Essays must be typed in a word processor, double-spaced, in an 11- or 12-point font. Do not include any personal information on the first page of your essay (you will be assigned a number for judging purposes to ensure fairness). On a cover sheet, provide your name, age, address, telephone number, e-mail address, school name, telephone number (if applicable), and the school grade you will be entering in fall 2006. In addition, also submit a statement from a teacher or parent confirming that the paper is your original work. While you do not need to be an American citizen to enter, your entry must be in English. An entrant may submit only one essay.

What Are Essays Judged On?

Essays are judged on originality, scholarship, and presentation. Elements judges will be looking for include:

  • Quality of the Research
    The quality of your research will demonstrate your knowledge and depth of understanding about the issues you are addressing. Things to keep in mind include:
    • Have you adequately researched both facts and points of view regarding the topic?
    • Have you supported your assertions with good examples?
    • Does your essay show that you know the topic well enough to make informed judgments?
    • Are the ideas and information obtained from other sources cited properly?
    • Do you have familiarity with primary sources related to the subject?
  • Quality of the Analysis
    A goal of the contest is to encourage students to begin to develop their own ideas about peace and intervention. This perspective should be reflected in your essay, using clear, concise arguments to support your point of view.
    • Have you carefully and thoughtfully analyzed the information presented?
    • Have you examined issues from an original perspective?
    • Have you used critical thinking skills to support your positions and conclusions?
    • Have you expressed your own serious reflection on the topic?
  • Style and Mechanics
    Effectively communicating your point of view requires good writing skills. Ask yourself the following questions about your essay as a written document:
    • Does the essay have an introduction, body, conclusion, and bibliography?
    • Is your essay free of errors in syntax, grammar, spelling, and punctuation?
    • Is your writing focused and well reasoned?
    • Are all quotations and sources properly cited?
  • Reasons for Disqualification
    • Plagiarism, using another’s words as if they are your own, is reason for automatic exclusion.
    • Relying solely on Internet research; books, journals, or other sources must be used.
    • Relying solely on encyclopedias; again, other sources must also be used.
    • Not following the rules regarding length, format, and/or date of submission.
  • How Do I Enter?

    Simply send us an e-mail at with the words “Summer Essay Entry 2006” in the subject line, attaching your essay, including cover sheet, as .txt or .doc. Entries must be received by Oct. 31, 2006. The winner will be announced before the end of December 2006. 

    Whom Should I Contact With Further Questions?

    Send us an e-mail at However, before doing so, read the following, as your question may be answered here:

  • Private, public, home-schooled, and correspondence-school students are welcome.
  • Citizens of the U.S. and foreign countries are welcome. However, essays and cover sheet must be in English.
  • Do not submit a photo of yourself.
  • Do not submit poetry or other creative writing; the product must be an expository essay.
  • All entries become the property of the Randolph Bourne Institute.