Lipson Essay Prize
Established in 2001
Description. The Leslie Lipson Program at UC Berkeley is intended to encourage undergraduate students to study humanistic values and their practical application for individuals, societies, and states. One component of the Leslie Lipson Program is the Lipson Essay Prize. Eligible freshmen and sophomores are invited to submit an original, unpublished piece to the Lipson Essay Prize contest on one of the essay topics related to humanistic values. The essay topics for each year are selected by the Lipson Committee. The 2012-13 topics are listed below. The topics for the 2013-14 prize will be available on the website in late fall 2013.
Prize Amounts. A $2,000 prize is awarded to students who submit winning essays on one of five topics related to humanistic values. Federal financial aid regulations require that all awards received by a student cannot exceed his or her financial need as determined by a congressional formula. It is possible, therefore, that the cash award for a prize could reduce some component of a needy student's package of financial aid awards. In these cases, the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office attempts first to reduce loan or work aid; fellowships, grants, or scholarships are only reduced as a last resort.
Leslie Lipson Biography. The Leslie Lipson Program is endowed in memory of Professor Leslie Lipson, who taught political theory and comparative government at UC Berkeley for thirty-three years. As a professor, Lipson's first love was the undergraduate curriculum, and undergraduate students twice selected him as the best teacher in the Department of Political Science. UC Berkeley honored Lipson in 1980 with the Berkeley Citation, for individuals of extraordinary achievement in their field who have given outstanding service to the campus. Lipson's books include The Great Issues of Politics, which has been published in ten editions, translated into numerous foreign languages, and used in introductory political science courses across the country; and his seminal work, The Ethical Crises of Civilization, in which he analyzed the historical developments in world civilizations that have resulted in both better and worse ethical choices. "Humanistic values are the fundamental values of good and evil, right and wrong, just and unjust, as carried out by individuals and societies in service of or against humanity" (Leslie Lipson).
Eligibility. To be eligible for the Lipson Essay Prize, students need to be freshmen or sophomores and have a minimum 3.5 grade-point average (GPA). Students from any field of study are welcome to apply. Essays will be reviewed by the Lipson Committee, and the committee may award up to five prizes for winning essays.
Deadline. Submissions need to be hand-delivered to the Undergraduate Scholarships, Prizes, and Honors Office, 210-A Sproul Hall, no later than Friday, March 14, 2014 at 4 p.m.
- What enables a person to empathize with the misfortune of another?
- When is lying by public officials or candidates for public office ethically justified?
- Does the nature of the 2012 U.S. Presidential election campaign and the demographics of the voters’ choices reflect continuing racism in American society? Why or why not?
- Is the "war on terror," as it is known, indeed a war? If so, what ends are appropriate in fighting it, and what means—for example, unmanned missile drone attacks—are ethically justified to achieve those ends?
- What would constitute ethical tax reform in the United States?
- What ethical responsibilities do governments, private enterprise, and individuals have in addressing global warming?
Lipson Essay Prize Submission Process
- 3,000 to 4,000 words; typed
- 12-point font; double-spaced with one-inch margins; numbered pages
- You may submit only one essay per calendar year.
- Submit five stapled copies of your essay.
- Make a copy for your records. No essays will be returned.
- Your submission needs to be anonymous. Please do not include your name. On the front of
your manuscript, please write the following in the upper right corner:
- Name of the contest
- The last four digits of your student identification (SID) number
- The number of pages in your submission
- Please download and complete the UC Berkeley Prizes and Honors Office Form and submit it in person along with your essay to 210-A Sproul Hall.
- Hand-deliver your essay to 210-A Sproul Hall by Friday, March 14, 2014 at 4 p.m. Please be prepared to show your Cal photo ID card when submitting your essay.
2012-13: Pierre Bourbonnais, "No Excuses for Lying"; Apruva Govande, "Emotional Bridges through Empathy"; Adithyavairavan Murali, "War on Terror: The Great Game of Education, Economics and Human Dignity"; Seth Victor, "The Lies and Unethical Nature of the War on Terror"
2011-12: Adam Susaneck, "How Party Stratification Leads to Duopoly as Ideology Establishing Elections as a Script Creating Not Deadlock, Livelock!"
2010-11: Ayden Parish, "Fundamentalism, Church and State"; Timothy Borjian, "The Problems with American Exceptionalism"
2009-10: Jasmine L. Segall, "Ethical Implications of Anonymous Methods of Modern Warfare"; Spreeha Debchaudhury, "We the People: A Colorful Portrayal"
2008-09: Alexander Setzepfandt, "Optimism: Breaking Free from the Unethical Behavior of Others"; Anirudh Narla, "The Triumph of Grey: The Importance of Indeterminacy and Complexity in Black and White"
2007-08: Danielle Rathje, "Fair Trade and Global Responsibility"; Keith Browner Brown, "Factoring in Humanity: The Failure of Population Control"
2006-07: Andrina Tran, "Varieties of Morality: William James, Pragmatism and Freedom "
2005-06: Erica Mu, "Dismantling Torture: An Examination of the United States at a Political and Ethical Crossroads"; Jillian Marks, "Torture: An Analysis of Its Evils"; Alexander H. Lau, "Revealing Racial Bias: A Case for Affirmative Action"
2004-05: Jacqueline Nader "The Greatest Danger of Our Time"; Yanpei Chen, "Morality and Political Discourse"; Charles Lin, "Avoiding a Tragedy: Reconciling International Interests in the Atmospheric Commons"
2003-04: No award given.
2002-03: Jennifer Greenburg, "Women's Participation in Post-Apartheid Reform"; Sebastian Petty, "Back to the Land: Institutional Forms of Community Supported Agriculture"; Tina Sang, "Chinese Household Registration System"
2001-02: Susan Tche, "Effects of the New World Economy on Post-Embargo Vietnam"
2000-01: Cynthia Houng, "Sustainable Development? Towards a New Synthesis of Environment Ethics and Philosophy"; Joseph Kim, "Does Absentee Voting Have Anti-Social Effects on Voters?"; Pha Lo, "The Hmong of Laos: Cultural Perspectives on Implementing a Global Agenda"