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Plan II Honors

Roger & Ann Worthington Essay Prize in Plan II

2018 Worthington Essay Contest

Grand Prize: $5000 
Second Prize: $2500 
First-Year Prize: $3500 

Due: Friday, October 12th by 5 p.m. 

2018 Essay Prompt:

You are the chairperson of the United Nations Committee on BeingX, a space alien who has lived on Earth for nearly a generation, after crash-landing in the Indian Ocean in 2019. Because BeingX has physical and biotechnological abilities[1] that are similar to those of fictional superheroes from American comic books, they[2] have modeled their behavior after iconic characters such as Superman and Wonder Woman.

After decades fighting crime, BeingX has decided to pursue another line of work, and has agreed to apply their extraordinary abilities to whatever task the world deems most worthwhile. What they want is a job—something they can do for 30-60 hours each week with a relatively predictable schedule, around which they can organize their social life and time with their Earth family. (Of course, if there’s a natural disaster or some other imminent danger, they could take a short leave of absence from their routine job to respond.)

Quite a few suggestions have been proposed to your committee: BeingX could use their inexhaustible strength to push a turbine that would generate clean electrical energy for hundreds of thousands of homes; they could clean up toxic sites too dangerous for human laborers; they could spend their days flying over the polar regions, blowing cold air to forestall the melting of the polar ice caps; they could visit poor and remote populations of people and use their x-ray vision to diagnose medical problems, then transport the patients to facilities that could save their lives—the list goes on and on, and each proposal promises to keep BeingX occupied for decades. Before the committee can move forward with choosing a career for BeingX, your duty as chairperson is to define the criteria that should guide that choice.

In 2000 words or less, articulate the goals you want the committee to consider, and how the relative merits of the different options might be assessed.

[1] Unfortunately, BeingX’s biotechnology is not reproducible with the resources available on our planet.

[2] BeingX does not have a gender, and prefers the singular pronoun “they.”


About the Worthington Essay Prize
Plan II alumnus, Roger Worthington (’80), provided funding for the annual Essay Prize beginning in 2002.  Originally a single prize, now Plan II awards 3 prizes each year to Plan II students, including a first-year student prize. The essay topics have ranged from hypothetical scenarios to real-world events and always challenge students to form an argument on one side of a debate, then present it convincingly. Plan II faculty members read each essay to select the winning essays, and Plan II traditionally hosts a lunch for the winners. ALL current Plan II students are eligible to enter.


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