$500 Prize for Best Undergraduate Essay on Classical Liberalism

The Political Theory Institute holds an annual essay contest for the best student essay on classical liberalism. The winner of the contest will be awarded a prize of $500.

The contest, open to all AU undergraduates, fosters critical reflection on the key authors, concepts, and arguments of classical liberalism, including individual liberty, equality, democracy, constitutionalism, commerce, and other topics. In this context, classical liberalism denotes a topic, not an agenda. The prize is awarded to the most intelligent and well-argued essay on these topics regardless of philosophical or political perspective. Essays about the place of classical liberalism in the American political tradition are welcome.

Submissions can be, but need not have been, written for a class. Essays may be nominated either by the author or a faculty member.

They should be between five and 20 pages (double-spaced, 12-point font, one-inch margins). Please include your name, e-mail, and phone number on the first page of your essay. Submissions should be e-mailed by the deadline to Professor Sarah Houser in Microsoft Word or PDF format. Please put "PTI Essay Contest" in the subject line.

Please direct questions to Professor Alan Levine, Professor Tom Merrill, or Professor Sarah Houser.

Past Essay Winners

2017 - Jack Bevacqua, "The Crisis of Modernity: Liberal Democracy and the Road to Illiberal Democracy in the West"

2016 - Lucas Wright, "The End of Growth: Liberalism, Inequality, and the Middle Class"

2015 - Nicholas Allmaier, "The Beautiful and the Useful: Tocqueville's Conception of Greatness, Its Importance, and Relevance to America Today"

2014 - Gabe Menchaca, "Staving Off the Beast: Discussing Self Denial in Mandeville"

2013 - James DeLucia, "Every Man For Himself: Frederic Bastiat and the Nature of Man"

2012 - Jessica Gioe, "The General Will as Protection from Tyranny"

2011 - James E Smith, "Letting Go of the Wolf: Jefferson, Slavery, and Classic Liberalism"
T.J. Whittle, "Locke's Religious Tolerance: A Freedom Based in Truth or Relativism?"

2010 - Joseph Reese, "Revisionist Elements in Classical Liberalism: Locke and Mill"