We believe that informed civil discourse has an essential and relevant role in a democratic society.  We invite you, our NOVA students, to write a 600 – 800 word essay, in a cogent and persuasive manner, suggesting how you would increase informed civil discourse in our society.  You may address specific current critical and/or controversial topics, at local, regional, state, or national levels.  Be creative and dream big.  Tell us how you would re-invent our social structures and processes to promote thoughtful, informed, and respectful discussion of issues.  The essays will be judged by a NOVA faculty panel. Up to five essays will be selected for prizes of $100 each, and will be published on the Essays page of this site.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • You must be registered for 6 or more credits at NOVA during the Spring 2017 semester
  • You must have completed 6 or more credits at NOVA during the Fall 2016 semester
  • You must be in good academic standing at NOVA

Essay Topic:

Promoting Informed Civil Discourse in a Democratic Society

Essay Requirements:

  • 600 – 800 word essay
  • Word document
  • Your original work
  • Standard attribution of quotations, citations, etc.
  • Bibliography page (in addition to the 600-800 word essay)
  • Not previously written or submitted for a course
  • Cover page with the following details:
    • Your full name
    • Your NOVA Student ID
    • Date of submission
    • Your statement giving permission to publish essay on the essay contest website

Essay Evaluation Criteria:

  • Innovation (33%) – How unique and creative are your ideas?
  • Usefulness (33%) – Are your ideas potentially useful and practical?
  • Argument (33%) – How well have you expressed and supported your ideas?

Submission and Due Date:

The essay, including the cover page, must be submitted via your official NOVA student email account to by Friday, March 17, 2017.