University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Center for Reflective Citizenship

Constitution Day

First Annual Essay Contest

This competitive essay contest, conducted in conjunction with the CRC’s annual Constitution Day

Lecture is open to students in public and private educational institutions who are currently enrolled in introductory survey level U.S. History and Government Classes. The essay contest features 3 division levels: middle school (grades 7-8), high school (grades 9-12), and college/university (introductory survey U.S. History and Government courses).


The top 3 winners in each division receive:

  • 1st place: $250.00

  • 2nd place: $150.00

  • 3rd place: $50.00

All winners will receive an awards certificate and a complimentary copy of Dr. David Bobb’s book,

Humility: An Unlikely Biography of America’s Greatest Virtue.


Contest Rules:

  • All prospective essay contestants are required to attend the 7th Annual UTC Constitution Day evening lecture on Thursday, September 21st at 7:30 pm in the UC Auditorium and register for the essay contest on site. All contestants must list a teacher/sponsor upon registration. Please read the attached PDF flyer on Constitution Day for context regarding the speaker and the essay topic.

  • School and college faculty can have as many students attend the lecture as they wish (subject to seating accommodations, reservations for large groups are suggested). 

  • On or before Thursday, September 28th (one week after the lecture), students who registered for the essay contest will receive via email the specific essay topic, a YouTube link to Dr. Bobb’s lecture, and a link to related material to assist in the essay writing process. Each educational institution is limited to five formal submissions per division. If a large number of students from any school or college prepare essays, it is the responsibility of the school’s faculty sponsor(s) to select the five best entrants from his or her schools that are submitted for the competition.

  • Essay format: The maximum length of each essay is three double-spaced pages (12 point font, Times New Roman). Endnotes or footnotes are not required. The topic of the essay will be directly related to the focus of Dr. Bobb’s Constitution Day presentation and an additional link provided to contestants. Contestants will be expected to spend approximately 60 percent of the essay describing the Constitution Day speaker’s assertions on how the architects of the Constitution and other early American leaders such as Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln thought it important to cultivate the virtue of humility. In the remaining 40 percent of the essay, students are expected to assert whether or not these traditional beliefs about humility are relevant to contemporary American national politics and government and provide a rationale for their position.

  • Referees who judge each division will not be sponsoring teachers for that particular division and will not know the identity of the essayist or his or her school or university.

Deadline: Essays must be received on or before Thursday, October 27th, 2017