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Carolinian Creed Essay Contest

The submission period for proposals is now closed. Thank you to those who submitted to the competition. We will be back in touch regarding round two by 2 April.

The MIT Press and the MIT Media Lab announce a call for essays on the topic of resisting reduction, broadly defined, for the Journal of Design and Science. Essays should be in conversation with Joi Ito’s manifesto, “Resisting Reduction,” and the articles, also on this theme, published in the third issue of JoDS.

In support of open access scholarship and the free exchange of ideas, JoDS will award up to ten authors $10,000 each for chosen essays. Selections will run in JoDS under a Creative Commons license and will be published in an MIT Press volume. Proceeds from the publication of this volume will support open access publishing at MIT.

This is an open competition and everyone is encouraged to submit a proposal.

The submission deadline for essay proposals of no longer than 300 words is 2 March 2018 at 5pm EST. Semi-finalists will be notified on 2 April 2018 and invited to submit essays of 3,000 to 5,000 words. All selections will be made by the JoDS editorial board and winners will be announced on 16 July 2018.


  • Proposals should engage with and expand the conversation started by Joi Ito’s manifesto, “Resisting Reduction” and issue 3 of JoDS, which comprises essays on this topic.

  • A proposal of no longer than 300 words that outlines a new perspective relating to resisting reduction.

  • Interdisciplinary essays are encouraged. Proposals can focus on topics in any field of inquiry and are not limited by discipline.

  • Essay proposals must be written in English.

  • Your name, email address, brief bio, and a working title are required.


2 March 2018: Proposal submission deadline at 5pm EST (<300 words)

2 April 2018: Semi-finalists notified and invited to proceed to the next round

1 June 2018: Essay submission deadline for semi-finalists at 5pm EST (3,000 to 5,000 words)

16 July 2018: Contest winners announced

August 2018: Essays published in JoDS

2019: MIT Press volume published

Presented by Facing History in partnership with WGBH
Sponsored by Holland & Knight Charitable Foundation's Holocaust Remembrance Project and The Allstate Foundation
& With Support from Citizen Film and WTTW

This Year's Essay Prompt:

In the documentary film American Creed, former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David M. Kennedy come together from remarkably different life experiences, backgrounds, and points of view to investigate the idea of a unifying American creed. At a time of sharp political and social tensions, their spirited inquiry frames the stories of a wide range of citizen-activists striving to realize their own visions of America’s promise across deep divides.

In times like this, we need stories that remind us of the ideals that hold us together.
-Pulitzer Prize-winning Historian, David Kennedy


A national identity is more than a list of diverse qualities and characteristics of the citizenry, it is also a collection of knowledge and values shared across the nation. In thinking about the stories and ideals that unite us as something larger than a collection of individuals, Facing History hopes to inspire young people to engage deeply in a conversation about who we are, and who we want to be. After watching one or more clips from American Creed, respond to the following in 500 words or less:

Tell a story that you believe shows the power of uniting people, building bridges, or orienting us to what we share and the common good.

Your story can be one from history or from your own community. You can choose to tell the story of an upstander (A person who speaks or acts in support of an individual or cause, particularly someone who intervenes on behalf of a person being attacked or bullied) or the story of a group that faced challenges and made a positive difference through their actions. Please tell us your story and explain what you hope people will learn from it.

To explore the examples from American Creed, the Holocaust, and the American Civil Rights Movement to help inspire your essay, sign up below.

When Is It Due?

The contest will be open for submissions March 1 through March 28, 2018. Finalists will be announced in April, and the public will be invited to vote for their favorite essays. Winners of the contest will be announced in May.

What are the Prizes?

  • Three $5,000 Upstander Scholarships will be awarded to students in 7th-12th grade and their teacher will also receive a $500 Classroom Award. At least one $5,000 Upstander Scholarship will be designated for a graduating senior.
  • Seven $1,000 Upstander Awards will be awarded to students in 7th-12th grade and their teacher will also receive a $250 Classroom Award.

Am I Eligible to Win?

  • All participants must be 13 years or older.
  • The contest is open to students in the U.S., UK, and Canada (excluding for Quebec).
  • Essays must be 500 words or fewer.


For more information, view a complete list of Rules and Eligibility Details:
See Rules for US and Canada Participants
See Rules for UK participants

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