Essay Prize in Ethics

The Schellhase Essay Contest asks students to think critically about the moral principles that drive human actions and behavior. The Schellhase Essay Contest was created in honor of Richard T. Schellhase, a former professor at Ursinus College.

Topics to Consider

  • The fundamental differences of what is “right” and “wrong”
  • Competing advocacy for the best course of action
  • Personal dilemmas
  • Unexpected consequences that resulted from a well-intended action
  • Important policy decisions and their implications
  • The obligation to help humanity and/or the environment

The topics above and many more can drive the thesis of an ethics essay. An ethics essay can be any essay that explores ethical situations and ideas. 


Any current Ursinus student may submit one essay. Students of all disciplines and grade levels are eligible to compete. Your essay submission can be from any class or from your independent writing outside class. 

How to Submit 

Details about the 2024-25 contest will be posted in September 2024. 


Up to $3,500 in prizes! 


Judging and Scoring

Winning essays will be selected by a panel of Ursinus alumni. Submitted essays will be scored on their capacity to confront important topics with a sense of perspective, tenacity, and eloquence while maintaining a captivating flow. 


Past Essay Contest Winners


First Prize: “Capital Punishment: Analyzing the Demise of the Death Penalty’s Usefulness” by Emma Reyes

Second Prize: “Predictive Policing” by Emily Musgrove

Third Prize: “The Actions of a Lonely Woman and the Effects of Online Incel Communities on Society” by Antara Dabral

Honorable Mentions: “Refugees and the EU: A Study of the Preferential Treatment of Ukrainian Refugees” by Madelyn Cooper and “Abortion: Analysis of the Bioethical and Metaphysical Standpoint” by Lauren Kovarick


First Prize: “Consent in Conversation: Education of Sexual Violence in Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Emily Benning

Second Prize: “Unchallenged Myth: Abolish the Family and Structure” by Julian Barocas

Third Prize: “The American Dream: Living Paycheck to Paycheck” by Ben Henwood

Honorable Mentions: “The Hidden Victims of War” by Drishti Khandelwal and “Surrogacy as a Means of Survival” by Emma Reyes




Have additional questions or concerns?

Reach out to for clarification on requirements, dates, and eligible topics for the essay. 

Ethics is the difference between knowing what you have the right to do and what is the right thing to do. 

- Potter Stewart