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The Pozen Center is pleased to announce a new prize for excellence in BA essay projects about race and human rights in the United States or globally. A prize of $1,000 will be awarded to the best BA essay submitted on any topic at the intersection of race, structural racism, and human rights.

“This new prize allows us to recognize and honor the outstanding research College students are doing as part of BA essay projects around questions of race,” says Mark Philip Bradley, Faculty Director of the Pozen Center and Bernadotte E. Schmitt Distinguished Service Professor of History. “I am deeply grateful to our Center Administrator, Kathy Scott, for helping us see the ways in which this prize could also support broader efforts around the University and the nation to make visible the impacts of structural racism and anti-Blackness in American society.”  

Kathy conceived of the new prize while watching the memorial service for George Floyd held at North Central University in Minneapolis. During the service, University President Dr. Scott Hagen announced a new scholarship fund named in honor of George Floyd and called on other universities to take similar action. 

“It made me think,” Kathy says. “How could we at the Pozen Center answer that important call?”

Watching our country reckon with George Floyd’s murder has reminded Kathy of other seminal moments in her lifetime, including the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “I was a little girl, six years old,” she remembers. “The city of Chicago seemed to go up in flames. I remember the rioting and the scariness of it all as a young Black girl. But I also remember how it changed me, and how somehow that event became part of who I was and the lens I used to look at life.”

Kathy sees the prize for best thesis on race and human rights as a platform for students to share their work on this critical issue in the wake of George Floyd’s death. “How do students process that?” she asks. “How does it inform what they want to give of themselves to the world, to help heal the wounds and scars that we have around race in our country?”

“I thought Dr. Hagen’s call was a good one,” Kathy says. “For the Pozen Center, the writing prize is an excellent way to answer that call and honor George Floyd’s life.”

Submissions for the prize are currently being accepted through Sunday, May 2 at 11:59 p.m. (CDT). Submissions may be BA essays in any field in the Social Sciences or the Humanities. Decisions are expected by late May. 

For more information and to apply, please visit the Awards page.