Students listen to a lecture on the first day of class. (Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison)

Undergraduate Essay Competition

2019 Topic

Should social media platforms be permitted to censor controversial speech?

This year’s essay topic reflects on the heated and ongoing discussions about the role of social media in American social life, elections, and democratic practice.

First place: $1,000
Second place: $500
Third place: $250

Essay should be approximately 1,000 words in length.Only essays from undergraduate students will be accepted. The winners will also be invited to a dinner hosted by the Center faculty.

The deadline for submission is March 15, 2019.
Students listen and take notes as Cindy I-Fen Cheng, associate professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, teaches during her History 161 - Asian American History lecture course in the Humanities Building on Feb. 21, 2017. Cheng is a recipient of a 2017 Distinguished Teaching Award. (Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison)

Essay Application

  • Please use your wisc.edu email address.
  • Accepted file types: doc, docx, pdf.
    Upload your essay. Remember, it should be about 1000 words long. Please upload only Word documents or PDFs.

Previous Competitions

2018 Topic

“Should the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution—which states that ‘All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside’—be repealed or modified to restrict more precisely the definition of who may claim citizenship?”

Winners: Dana Coggio, Ben Johnson, August Schultz

2017 Topic

“Should the U.S. Electoral College be abolished, reformed, or left to the states to determine?”

Winners: Ean Quick, Garrett McLaughlin, Joshua Gutzmann

2016 Topic

“Are the goals of fostering freedom of speech on campus and of fostering a welcoming environment for all students incompatible?”

Winners:  Joshua GutzmannRebekah CullumZawadi Carroll