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USEM Essay Prize

The SAGES University Seminar Essay Awards highlight the best student writing produced in SAGES University Seminars each year.  The essays recognized here were selected from those nominated by SAGES faculty for this award in academic year 2015-1016.  Student essayists receive a cash award and are recognized at the Spring Writing Program Awards.

We encourage instructors to read and share these essays with student writers as models for effective writing in SAGES University Seminars.


“RBF and the Reluctance to Accept Women’s Anger” by Erin Camia

Written for USSY 289J: Beauty Myths Today; Megan Jewell (Seminar Leader)

Assignment Description: 10-12 page argumentative researched essay on a topic that addresses the cultural politics of beauty.

       “RBF and the Reluctance to Accept Women’s Anger”            


“Re-fashioning the Field: On Gender and Computer Science” by Jessica Nash

Written for USNA 287P: Women and Science; Barbara Burgess-Van Aken (Seminar Leader)

Assignment Description: 10-12 page research paper in which students identified and explored a question related to assumptions about gender in a selected scientific paradigm. Examples of such questions included: How have prevailing scientific beliefs about male and female anatomy affected the struggles of a specific female scientist? What were/are the cultural, political, and scientific factors that facilitated (or are currently facilitating) the shift from one scientific paradigm of gender beliefs to another? What are some current competing perspectives regarding the science of gender?

“Re-fashioning the Field: On Gender and Computer Science”


“Conserving Culture: CBPR as a Framework for Group Research” by Ondrej Maxian 

Written for USNA 287K: Human Research Ethics; Michael Householder (Seminar Leader)

Assignment Description: Students read a collection of instructor-selected journal articles that address the controversy that resulted from a study of blood specimens taken from members of the Havasupai American Indian tribe. Based on their understanding of the debate (and adding at least one source they found), students articulated what they thought should be done to ensure that human subjects research is done ethically, especially when scientific values conflict with the cultural values of the research subjects.

“Conserving Culture: CBPR as a Framework for Group Research”


“Translation in Paradise: The Intersection of Languages and their Impact in Gurnah’s East Africa” by Katherine Steinberg

Written for USSY 285V: Castaways and Cannibals: Stories of Empire; Kristine Kelly (Seminar Leader)

Assignment Description: 10-12 page, researched analysis on an issue raised in one of the novels assigned in class (Defoe, Conrad, Coetzee, or Gurnah)

“Translation in Paradise”     


In previous years, SAGES and the Writing Program published the prize-winning essays in booklets. You can find previous SAGES University Seminar Essay Award recipients here in these archives.

Page last modified: June 22, 2017