Berkeley Center for the Study of Value
Prize in Personal Integrity
Established in 2012
Overview. The Berkeley Center for the Study of Value Prize in Personal Integrity was established in 2012. The prize is intended to encourage undergraduate students to explore personal integrity. Each year, the prize committee will identify an essay topic or theme related to personal integrity and values. Eligible undergraduates are invited to submit a written essay focused on the essay theme. The winning essays will be published on the websites of the Berkeley Center for the Study of Value and the UC Berkeley Prizes and Honors Office, with the aim of wide dissemination and hope that the essay may appear in other publications.
The Prize in Personal Integrity seeks to inspire students to develop and reflect upon ideas and practices that will sustain and enrich integrity in our society and its institutions. A vibrant democracy requires unique personal and public values; the prize will ask students to bring together the knowledge, ethics, skills, and experience they develop at Berkeley to enhance our democratic society. The prize will be housed within the Berkeley Center for the Study of Value, which animates and encourages exploration about what we value and why. Literature, the arts, philosophy, and their study have for centuries been crucial sources for thinking about and creating our sense of values. The Berkeley Center for the Study of Value seeks to renew the participation of the humanities in public discourse about values, as well as to encourage those in the sciences, law, and the social sciences to participate in our endeavor as we broaden and deepen our sense of values.
Prize Amounts. A prize will be awarded to the student who submits an exemplary essay focusing on the designated theme related to personal integrity. The prize is $5,000, subject to the limits of the winner’s financial aid package (if the winner is an aid recipient). As many as three awards may be offered, if more than one exemplary essay is submitted. The prize committee may elect to award 2nd and 3rd prizes of as much as $2,500 and $1,000, respectively.
Eligibility. UC Berkeley undergraduates in good standing are eligible to submit essays for the prize. Students focusing on any field of study are welcome to apply.
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.
Students who already receive a full scholarship may be able to apply prize funds toward summer classes at UC Berkeley or summer abroad programs accepted by UC Berkeley. Students not receiving financial aid are eligible to receive the prize.
If a student who wins the prize cannot use the funds immediately, the student may have up to two years to apply prize funds. Unused prize funds will be directed to the Chancellor’s Discretionary Fund for support of the UC Berkeley campus.
Selection. Prize recipients will be selected by the Berkeley Center for the Study of Value. A faculty committee will be appointed by the director of the center; committee members will be faculty members affiliated with the Berkeley Center for the Study of Value.
Deadline. Submissions must be delivered to the Undergraduate Scholarships, Prizes, and Honors Office, 210-A Sproul Hall, no later than Monday, December 3, 2012 at 4 p.m.
Prize Topic for 2012-13
What is honor and why should it matter?
In Act 5, Scene 1 of Henry IV, Part 1, Shakespeare’s Falstaff rejects “honor” because it lacks use-value:
Falstaff: How then? Can honor set-to a leg? No. Or an arm? No. Or take away the grief of a wound? No. Honor hath no skill in surgery, then? No. What is honor? A word. What is in that word honor? What is that “honor”? A trim reckoning! Who hath it? He that died o’ Wednesday. Doth he feel it? No.
Honor, Falstaff suggests, is good only for getting oneself killed in battle, not for improving life. On the other hand, the great Roman statesman and philosopher Cicero argued in On Duties (Book 1, paragraph 15) that all beneficial human actions spring from our sense, as human beings, of what is honorable and, conversely, that doing what is honorable will always have beneficial effects:
Everything that is honorable arises from one of four parts: it is involved either with the perception of truth and with ingenuity; or with preserving fellowship among men, with assigning to each his own, and with faithfulness to agreements one has made; or with greatness and strength of a lofty and unconquered spirit; or with order and limit in everything that is said and done (modesty and restraint are included here.)
Falstaff’s sense that honor is just a word seems more in tune with our own times in which cheating in schools and universities is commonplace and in which revelations of excruciatingly dishonorable conduct might produce only a modest career setback for public figures. Yet, philosopher Anthony Appiah argues that, even today, honor can be a powerful force for profound moral change.
Honor, Cicero explains, plays an essential role in our obligations to ourselves, to others, to the community, and even to something that transcends community. Is Falstaff right or is Cicero? Should honor be an important value for our campus community and, if so, how should we conceive of it? How might we revitalize the value of honor? Are honor codes meaningful or useful? Can honor be a force for improving community?
- 1,000 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 must be anonymous. Do not include your name. On the front of your essay, please write the following in the upper right corner:
- Name of the contest
- The last four digits of your student identification number (SID)
- 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 by Monday, December 3, 2012 at 4 p.m. Please be prepared to show your Cal photo ID card when submitting your essay.
2012-13: 20 entries; 1st prize: Pierre Bourbonnais ($5,000); 2nd prize: Salman Qasim ($2,500); 3rd prize: Andrew David King ($1,000)
Topic: What is honor and why should it matter? [Winning essays (PDF)]
2011-12: 11 entries; 1st prize: Arden Koehler ($5,000); 2nd prize: Aaron Kaufman ($2,500); 3rd prize: Anna Dimitruk ($1,000)
Topic: Truthiness [Winning essays (PDF)]