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The dilemma faced by Dean Kelly Smith on whether to allow Chris Williams to graduate from her college challenges the current model of higher education in the United States from an economic and normative perspective. When considering the situation that Dean Smith faces, this paper aims to demonstrate how Chris Williams should not be allowed to graduate without first passing the Senior Seminar after: (1) exploring the role of liberal arts colleges in encouraging agency among their students; (2) assessing the qualitative value of a college education in diversifying students’ knowledge base and providing students with the resources and opportunities for success.


First prize winner.

For each essay topic, a prompt presented students with an ethical dilemma requiring a recommended course of action and an examination of the broader issues.

The prompt for this essay is available as a supplemental file.

EthicsEssayPrompt 2.docx (12 kB)
Student Debt Essay Prompt



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