The Hall Ethical Thinking Award for MC juniors is now open

The Social Sciences Division has released the application for the annual Hall Ethical Thinking Award Essay Contest. 

The purpose of this award is to encourage all junior students at Maryville College to engage in ethical thinking on a particular theme. The theme for this year’s award is “ethical thinking in leadership and business during and after a pandemic”

“We look at this essay as a perfect illustration of the value of the liberal arts education that students are getting at Maryville College,” said Dr. Sharon May, Chair for Division of Social Sciences and an Associate Professor of Economics. “We really hope that students are able to look at a new problem, a social issue of some kind, and think creatively using all of the different knowledge that they’ve gained at Maryville College and through their life experience, to tackle this problem.”

Essays may be written from a variety of perspectives. In the past, essays have been written through historical, literary, theological, psychological, and sociological lenses. Two prizes are awarded for practical or creative essays that could possibly be published in a journal or a popular magazine. The first-place prize is worth $2,300 and the second-place prize is worth $1,200. 

Last year, the second-place winner was Alyssa Kral, and Kaelyn Finnegan came in first place. 

May said that at least two people from the social sciences division are chosen to read the essays. They each independently judge the quality of the essays and then rank them.  Then, they come together to evaluate the essays, and if there is any disagreement, a third reader is brought in. The winners are announced at the Academic Awards Ceremony.

“Winning the contest was amazing,” Finnegan said. “We had already been sent home as a result of the pandemic and the world was kind of flipped upside down. Being awarded first place in the contest was really just a bright spot during a pretty bleak and extremely stressful time. It’s also been a tremendous help in terms of financial aid for my senior year. The award was pretty hefty in terms of amount and alleviated a lot of those financial pressures; it’s also something that I’ve been able to include on my med/grad school applications.”

A family donated the money through an estate gift several years ago. This will was given in the honor of Captain Harley Hall, a member of the US Navy. Hall was well respected by fellow Navy pilots and chaplains who served with him. He served in Vietnam where he ultimately lost his life. 

The entire award is centered around ethical thinking. In the past, the topics have revolved around environmental sustainability, environmental stewardship, vocation, and polarization. 

Last year’s prompt was about analyzing the ethics regarding human interaction with the environment. Finnegan wrote an argumentative/motivational essay that outlined evidence for the existence of human-induced climate changes. In her essay, she sent out a plea to everyone to be conscious of personal carbon footprints, encouraged recycling, and declared that if something is wrong or not available, then it is only right that humans make change for the entire Earth’s sake. 

“It’s always interesting to read the take of a student and how they’re approaching the topic,” May said. “It’s just fun to read different perspectives and to see how our students are tackling problems and coming up with creative solutions and what they bring in. We just really want to encourage people to put in an essay to submit. The submission deadline for this year’s award is 12:00 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 12, 2021. The guidelines for the essay can be found in the Social Sciences Department or by contacting Dr. Sharon May ([email protected] ) or Paula Orr ([email protected]).

One thought on “The Hall Ethical Thinking Award for MC juniors is now open

  • November 30, 2020 at 12:13 pm

    Thank you, Grant, for helping us get the word out. As Kaelyn says, we need bright spots!


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