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USC Levan Ethics Essay Contest

The Levan Ethics Essay Contest aims to recognize the best written work on ethics by undergraduate students. The contest will award a cash prize to an overall winner.

Papers can be a discussion of a current ethical issue, or a critical case analysis of recent ethics violations in a professional field (engineering, business, health sciences, law, politics, etc.)

Winning essays will be submitted to USC's literary journal, Scribe, a publication showcasing the finest works penned by USC students. For more information visit

Suggested areas for essays:
  • Global Ethics: Moral problems with an international focus
  • Professional Ethics: Examination of the ethical component of a profession, or of a specific ethical problem faced by members of the profession
  • Social Justice: Critical analysis of a moral issue of primarily social significance


  • Format: MS-Word document (.doc or .docx)
  • Proper in-text referencing (MLA or APA) and a Works Cited page
  • A title
  • Include the following information in the body of the email:
    • Your full name, email, cell phone number, and USC student ID number
    • Your Major/Minor and year
    • The contest category you believe is most appropriate for your essay
    • A title
    • A permission to publish statement: in case you win, your paper will be featured on this website (you also will receive a cash prize!)

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: March 2015 (exact date will be posted during the Fall 2014 Semester)

To submit your essay email

Please be sure that no identifying information is included on your submitted essay.

Awards will be announced at the April 2015 Annual Undergraduate Writers' Conference. 

2014 Levan Ethics Essay Contest Winners

Professional Ethics:

Brian Lentz, First Prize
“Medicine Demands More Than an Oath”

Katherine Zopatti, Second Prize
“Undereducated: The Judge’s Excessive License in Cases Concerning The Child Witness"

Kristen Nakashioya, Honorable Mention
“Terrorism and the Media: Rolling Stone’s Boston Bomber Cover”
Social Justice:

Thomas Armstrong, First Prize
“Internal Migration in China: An Investigation of Hukou and State Social Policy”

Anessa Ibrahim, Second Prize
“Words Hurt: The Harmful Discourse of Grutter v. Bollinger”
Global Ethics:

Matthew Prusak, First Prize
“The Need for Economic Engagement with North Korea”

Engie Salama, Second Prize
“Traditional Medicine, Pharmaceutical Patents and Intellectual Property Rights in India: Exploring Islamic Law & Moral Rights”

Morgan Cheeks, Honorable Mention
"The Swiss Healthcare System: A Consumer-Driven Alternative to Employer-Based Health Insurance"


2013 Levan Ethics Essay Contest Winners

Overall Winner: 

Marissa Roy, "The UN's 8 Millenium Development Goals and the Legal Status of Distributive Justice" 

Personal Ethics:

Paige Sorrentino, "Dante's Inferno — Canto 12.5" 

Professional Ethics:

Uriel Kim, "No More Pointing Fingers: Science and Regulation Needed for Fingerprinting's Future" 

Social Justice: 

Candice Tardif, "Allergic Inmates: Unheard and Unsafe" 

Global Ethics: 

Francesca Bessey, "Free to Die: The Sexist Paradox of Women's Suicide Terror" 


 2012 Levan Ethics Essay Contest Winners 

Overall Winner:

"Ensuring Ethical Conduct in Clinical Trials," by Yagnaseni Dasgupta (Senior, Psychology and Economics)

Organizational Ethics:

"Business Ethics: Shutting the Door," by Jessica Geraldine Garcia (Junior, Social Sciences-Economics)

Social Justice:

"Two Battles, One Sword: Dissecting the Stagnant State of Education and Prison Reform," by Makiah Green (Junior, English-Creative Writing; Minor, Social Entrepreneurship)

Professional Ethics:

"Is Animal Testing Ethical?," by Daniel Weisel (Junior, Biological Sciences)

Ethics Across Borders:

"The Benevolence of Aggression: A Defense of American Interventionism," by John Stockton (Senior, Philosophy)