Student Essay Contest
The Art of Persuasion, Policy Edition
In our conversations with policy makers and the people who advise them, we have learned that one of the most important skills that students should develop, whether they want to work in public policy or in the private sector, is the construction of a concise, informative, but persuasive policy memo.
How do you persuade a policy maker? You identify a specific policy issue that is important to this policy maker; you construct an argument (s) to plead your case; you collect evidence to support your argument (s); and you anticipate the most likely counter-argument (s) and address them as well.
Write a Policy Memo
The Institute for Public Policy at Bucknell University and the O'Pake Institute for Ethics, Leadership, and Public Service at Alvernia University invite Bucknell and Alvernia students to write a policy memo on an issue of importance to you. The issue can be global, national, state or local/regional in scope. The essay should address a specific issue and should be addressed to a specific policy maker who would be interested in your ideas and who could, potentially, take action on your suggestions.
Please be specific in your choice of policy question and solution rather than general. For example, you could argue in favor of tax incentives for energy efficient cars and appliances as a better solution to global warming than a national carbon tax; you could propose incentives to develop community gardens and community kitchen as a solution to large global problems such as hunger and drought; you could argue for or against the proposed American Dream Act; you could argue for or against the NSA's data mining program.
Criteria for judgment of the essays will emphasize both writing skills and evidence-based argumentation shown in the letter. In other words, letters that are strictly ideologically-argued, regardless of ideological perspective, will not be highly ranked.
Undergraduate students in any major at either Bucknell or Alvernia are eligible to submit an original essay for this competition. We ask that students list a professor who will recommend you. A committee comprised of faculty and administrators on each campus will evaluate all submissions and determine a list of finalists. The Bucknell finalists will present their essays as part of a public forum, to be moderated by The Honorable Dave Myers on Thursday evening, Nov. 7, 2013.
The winning students from each of the two campuses will each receive a $200 gift certificate to their respective campus bookstores. The finalists and the winning submissions will be displayed prominently on the webpages for the Institute for Public Policy and the O'Pake Institute for Ethics, Leadership, and Public Service.
- Letters must address an issue of public policy, such as social policy, economic policy, environmental policy, or policy-making and address a specific policy maker;
- Letters must be 2000 to 2500 words (including footnotes and references) and be submitted electronically in PDF format;
- Letters must address a specific policy question and utilize evidence to articulate the policy concern as well as in discussing potential solution(s);
- Letters must be fully sourced and footnoted appropriately;
- Submissions must include the following contact information: student's name, institution, year at Bucknell or Alvernia, student mailing address, e-mail address, cell phone number, faculty recommender, major area of study;
- Submissions should be submitted electronically, no later than 2 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 25, 2013.