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The 2013–2014 Essay Contest

Sponsored by CCE and the Hannah Arendt Center

The Center for Civic Engagement and the Hannah Arendt Center at Bard College are sponsoring this year’s essay contest for students in the Bard network. Students can submit essays or multimedia work in response to the following prompt:

What is it with youth today? Are they disengaged bystanders in the midst of a “civic recession,” active citizens with new understandings of citizenship, or something entirely different? Should education aim to form publically-spirited citizens? In what ways could/should education encourage youth engagement?

Submit Your Essay

Click the link below to view the entry form. Deadline for submission is November 15, 2013.


Corinna Cape ’15

Corinna Cape ’15

Human Rights and Written Arts joint major Corinna grew up in the small town of Sherman, Texas. She has been active with Bard’s Center for Civic Engagement and the TLS (Trustee Leader Scholar) program, which supports student volunteer efforts.
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Submit a 1,500-word essay or a two- to four-minute multimedia piece that addresses the following: Are youth today "political dropouts"? Are they disengaged bystanders or active citizens with a new understanding of citizenship, or something entirely different? In what ways could/should education encourage youth engagement?

Three first-place winners will be chosen along with honorable mentions from Bard’s network institutions.

Successful submissions will include:

  • Creativity: a departure from arguments that use clichés about citizenship with a focus on innovative approaches to the question
  • Quality of Presentation: readable, viewable, thoughtful and clear

Student submissions are encouraged from the Bard network of institutions, including: Al-Quds/Bard Honors College for Liberal Arts and Sciences; American University of Central Asia; Bard in Berlin; Bard College (Annandale-on-Hudson); Bard College at Simon’s Rock; Bard High School Early Colleges (Manhattan, Queens, Newark); Bard Early College in New Orleans; Bard Prison Initiative campuses; Smolny College/Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences, St. Petersburg State University; and our other partners.

For questions regarding the contest, please contact CCE associate director Erin Cannan at


Friday, November 15, 2013 at 11:59 p.m.


Three first-place winners will be chosen.

  1. Each first-place winner will receive $500 and the opportunity to attend an international student conference where they will present their essays.
  2. An honorable mention award of $50 will be given to the best submission from each Bard network institution.
  3. Each first-place winner will receive a Bard Center for Civic Engagement Excellence Award.
  4. All winners and honorable mentions will have their entries featured on the Center for Civic Engagement website.

Consider the Following:

Each essay contest participant is encouraged to approach the topic from his or her own unique perspective and is not required to use any specific material to respond.  

The 2013–14 Essay Contest reflects questions being discussed at this year's Hannah Arendt Center Fall Conference, titled "Failing Fast: The Educated Citizen in Crisis," which asks if we can reinvigorate the cultural and educational institutions that have nurtured public-spiritedness. Participants in this year's essay contest can explore the prompt using questions and materials from the conference, which can be found on the Arendt Center website.