George R. Hensel Ethics Essay Contest
About the Contest
Rotary International District 5300 George R. Hensel Ethics Essay Contest is designed to challenge high school students to analyze ethical issues and concerns confronting them in today’s complex world. Because our fellow Rotarian, businessman, and philanthropist, George R. Hensel, Ph.D., privately funded this contest before his death in 2012, there are no entry fees to pay. Students submit essays to their local Rotary Clubs and may, at the club’s discretion, present their essays at a club meeting. Winners at the club level advance to the District Level and four winners at that level are awarded monetary prizes. The top three runners up are awarded cash prizes of $500 and the winner at the District Level receives $3,000. The overall winning essay is presented at the District Conference.
Student Entry Form
Club Entry Form
Letter to HS Principal Form
Fill-In Award Certificate
George H. Hensel Ethics Essay Contest PowerPoint Presentation
For more information contact:
Kathy Schlotz KathySchlotz@MontebelloTeachers.org
Winning Essays from the 2016 Contest
Winning Essays from the 2015 Contest
Winning Essays from the 2014 Contest
Winning Essays from the 2013 Contest
Winning Essays from the 2012 Contest
Rezendes Ethics Essay Competition
The John M. Rezendes Annual Ethics Essay Competition 2018
All current undergraduate students at the University of Maine are invited to submit an 8 to 10 page essay that focuses on ethics, broadly construed. Papers on any topic of ethical concern are welcome, but see below for suggested focus. Please view other requirements and essay submission form below.
- First Prize: $2800 plus an original engraved sculpture
- The prize winner will be asked to read from her or his winning essay at the Rezendes Ethics Lecture
- Winning essay will be bound and shelved in the Honors Reading Room
- Second and Third Prizes: $300
Topic for 2018: Age and Aging
What does it mean to age? What are some of the ethical issues a person confronts along the path from birth to death? Are there biomedical ethical issues that must be addressed? What are the legal implications of aging? Can and should our ethical issues and values change as we age? Does morality change with age and time? What does aging mean, and how can people, institutions and societies age well or poorly? Aging seems to be at the center of current public discourse and debate, economically, socially, politically and culturally. Some example prompts related to the topic include:
- Is the relationship between aging and technology an ethical concern?
- How do issues related to aging inform current debates about immigration (or about terrorism or about refugee crises)?
- What is our ethical responsibility towards the elderly?
- What are the ethical justifications for restricting youth from social choices?
- What are the ethical concerns regarding disparities in childhoods or disparities in elder care?
- In an age of precarious employment where people are expected to change professions many times, how does our experience of aging change?
- Do ideas and ethical values age? Can they become outdated?
- How can we incorporate the principle of aging into our thinking, scientific or political life?
- What does it mean for the planet to age?
- How can we ethically conceive of the life-cycle of the planet on the basis of our understanding of individual life forms and their aging?
- What is ageism? How does it affect some of our practices, institutions and self perceptions?
- How do increased life spans affect human conceptions of work, ethics, medical care and political engagement?
- Do people in different cultures age differently? How so? How might this affect our experience of moral value and what makes a good life?
- What are the ethical and legal implications of embryonic age?
There will be open info sessions for all prospective writers on December 6th, and January 25th at noon, on the 4th floor of Colvin Hall.
These interactive, hands on, fun workshops will take students through the steps of writing an effective ethics essay. We’ll cover the basic ethical approaches, with a list of online resources that can help you make progress on your own. We’ll do a mock paper outline. And we’ll discuss tips and strategies for writing your essay and overcoming obstacles. Open to any students, but especially designed for students who might submit to the Rezendes Ethics Essay Contest.
In order to be considered for the award, the essay must:
- Identify and clearly describe a problem and the ethical issue at stake
- Present a carefully reasoned and informed argument about how the ethical issue should be approached and resolved
- Include a clear description of the ethical theory used to reach such a resolution (rights theory, social contract theory, utilitarianism, Kantian ethics, virtue ethics, feminist ethics, etc.)
- Respond to serious objections that might be offered to the author’s point of view
- Maintain ethical discourse focused on right and wrong conduct, moral values and the good
Draw from factual information, properly referenced.
Sample prompts from past years include:
- What are the ethical implications of our relationship with nature? Can our relationship with nature be unethical?
- In our Internet Age, which is the more important consideration: open access to new scientific discoveries or the protection of intellectual property?
- How should ethical concerns affect our food choices?
All undergraduate students at the University of Maine registered during the spring semester in which the competition is held are eligible, including those who will be studying abroad.
- Essays must be submitted electronically by February 15th, 2018.
- No late submissions will be accepted.
- No works of poetry or fiction will be accepted.
- The following format must be used:
- Submissions must be typewritten in 12 pt font, double spaced with one-inch margins saved in .doc or .docx format.
- Submissions must be 8-10 pages maximum.
- Note – reference and cover pages do not count towards the 8-10 page maximum
- Submissions must include a reference page and proper in-text source documentation (MLA, APA or Chicago styles)
- Only the title of the essay, and not the author’s name, should appear on the first page of the essay itself.
- The first page of the document must be a cover page with the author’s name, title of the essay, local address and phone number, email address, year in school and major.
- Submissions will not be returned.
- No student may win the first prize more than once.
- Essays are due February 15th, 2018.
A committee of faculty members from the University of Maine will judge the essays. The decision of this committee is final. The committee will interview the authors of the top essays before the winning essay is selected. Finalists may be asked to revise their essay. The judges will make their evaluations based on the following criteria:
- The quality of the writing;
- Adherence to theme;
- The clarity with which the problem to be addressed has been defined and presented;
- The cogency of the arguments used to defend the author’s position on the problem;
- The strength and relevance of the objections considered;
- The care with which the author responds to these objections; and
- The accuracy of any factual information in the essay, including proper documentation of source materials.
- While the student will be judged primarily on the written work, the interview will be a factor.
- Essays must be framed using an ethical theory. More details on ethics and ethical framings can be found here.
- An Overview of ethical theories can be found here.
- For additional information on ethical framings, visit: http://plato.stanford.edu
- Tips and suggestions from previous essay winners can be found here.
More information on the John M. Rezendes Ethics Initiative, including links to past winning essays, can be found here. Please note that previous winning essays may exceed the 10 page limit. These essays have gone through the revision process and are longer as a result. Original submissions must not exceed 10 pages.