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The William Institute

ethics Essay Contest

TWI's annual high school ethics essay contest is a fantastic means for encouraging critical thinking and ethical reasoning, and for generating thoughtful classroom discussion about each individual’s ethical responsibilities for the choices they make. These essay contest pages offer information about the year's contest and provide ways to encourage classroom discussion using the contest topic.

Our annual high school ethics essay contest is open to juniors and seniors at participating high schools. The top junior and top senior essays at each eligible participating school receive a cash scholarship.

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The TWI Annual High School Ethics Essay Contest.

In 1995, TWI launched an annual ethics essay contest in one local high school—Chandler High School. That year we received two essays. Undaunted by the small level of participation, the Board of Directors voted to expand the level of the contest and to reach out to include the community in the evaluation process. The essay contest quickly gained momentum and, throughout the past 22 years, over 30,000 students have discussed a provocative ethics topic in their classrooms and participated in writing an essay responding to the ethical questions involved. TWI has awarded over $140,000 in student scholarships to high school juniors and seniors.

In addition, senior and junior top honors from each school are entered into a statewide contest to select a senior and junior statewide winner. Senior winner receives an additional $1,000.00 scholarship, the junior winner receives a $700.00 scholarship.

Each year, the contest prompt focuses on a different ethics-related topic. Students respond to four or five prompt components that lead them through an ethical critical thinking process and personal reflection on each student’s personal responsibility to act regarding their ethical concern. Essays are judged on the basis of each student’s ability to take a position, describe it and support it.

Essays are evaluated by teams of five community leaders for each grade level at each school, resulting in the participation of more than 75 volunteers. Contest finalists are interviewed by members of their individual teams. The top senior essay at each eligible school is awarded a $500 cash scholarship, top junior essay receives a $300 cash scholarship, presented at the school’s end-of-year awards ceremonies.

Read this year’s announcement and contest rules.

Read this year's essay prompt.

Read our ethics essay contest Frequently Asked Questions.

Read the contest judging process and standards.

Read what teachers have to say about the ethics essay contest.

E-mail us for more information about the essay contest.

Click here to view last year's contest winners.

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