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Essay Contest Archives

Each year STILLPOINT and the Jerusalem and Athens Forum sponsor an essay contest open to all current and past participants in the program. Topics are chosen that challenge students to address an important current issue in light of reading and seminar discussions. A winner (•) and two honorable mentions are named each year.

Here are the winners and honorable mentions from the past five years.



2016 | Why Choose the Liberal Arts?
In "great books" programs, contemporary students to encounter profound thinkers from throughout the ages: philosophers, poets and novelists, foundational scientists, theologians and political thinkers. Each year a group of Gordon students work through these challenging texts and ideas together in the Jerusalem and Athens Forum. For the 2016 JAF essay contest, students focused on the very nature of their joint enterprise with essays that make the case for the liberal arts. 

•  "Glass Houses and the Liberal Arts" by Kevin Neil ’17
o  "The Imago Dei and the Liberal Arts" by India Boland ’17
o  "Swimming with Giants" by Hannah Wardell ’17

2015 | Appearance and Reality
JAF participants and alumni of the program were invited to explore the 2015 Symposium topic, "Why is it that what seems to be often is not what is?"—and to integrate into their essay relevant reflections on works of philosophy, literature and theology that they encountered as JAF participants.

•  "On the Reality of Hope" by Hannah Wardell ’17
o  "It Tastes Good" by Sam Sherratt ’15
o  "Appearance & Reality" by Christy Urbano ’16

2014 | The Presence of the Past
Contestants were invited to reflect on the 2014 Symposium topic for this year's competition: "The Presence of the Past: How History, Memory, and Tradition Shape Our Lives." Essays offered relevant reflections on texts from the JAF syllabus.

•  "In Which an English Major Pretends to Understand History" by Christy Urbano '16
o  "Trail-blazers" by Amaylah Israel '16
o  "untitled" by Maria Constantine '14

2013 | What is Beauty?
Contestants were invited to reflect on the Symposium topic for this year's competition. Essays offered relevant reflections on texts from the JAF syllabus.

•  "For This We Have Been Made" by Matthew Reese '15
o  "Beauty Transcends Logic" by Jaimie DiBernardo '15
o  "Beauty as Experience" by Ian Isaac '15

2012 | Politics and its Limits in Christian Perspective
Taking their cue from standard thinkers from the JAF reading list--Plato, Augustine, Dante, Luther, Calvin, Weber, and others--students develop essays on the promise and peril of contemporary political engagement.

•  "Semper reformanda" by Jeanette Christianson '12
o "Political Proof Texting" by Dawn Cianci '14
o  "Fair and Balanced vs. Divine Sovereignty" by Matt Clemmer '13

2011 | The Seven Deadly Sins
Taking their cue from Dante’s Purgatorio, students develop a broadly accessible essay on one of the seven deadly sins: pride, envy, wrath, sloth, avarice, gluttony, lust.

•  "Acedia" by Tala Strauss '13
o "Too Busy for God?" by Mark Whitfield '13
o  "Untitled" by Kyra Sliwinski '11