For Faculty

University Writing Committee (UWC) Award for Excellence in Writing Instruction for Academic Programs

The University Writing Committee’s (UWC) Award for Excellence in Writing Instruction honors academic programs (undergraduate majors) and their faculty who have demonstrated sustained and successful efforts over the past five years to integrate evidence-based pedagogical practices across an undergraduate major. One award of $20,000 will be given to an academic program to use for faculty professional development. These funds are unrestricted, but the UWC encourages programs to use the money to support writing-focused guest speakers, conference attendance, or research projects. See the call for applications for more information.

For Students

Outstanding ePortfolio Contest

The Outstanding ePortfolio Award recognizes exceptional portfolio websites created by current Auburn University students. A faculty committee will evaluate submissions with the ePortfolio Project rubric, which focuses on effective communication, critical thinking through reflection, visual literacy, and technical competency.

Students may nominate themselves, and faculty and staff are invited to nominate up to two students. Nominations are due through the submission form by the third Sunday in March.


Sustainability Essay Contest

University Writing and the Academic Sustainability Program seek submissions for the Outstanding Sustainability Essay Award. This award recognizes exceptional student writing in prose with a focus on sustainability.

Deadline: October 1, 2024                                         Nomination Form:

Essay Prompts

Auburn’s Common Read for 2024 is The Music of Bees, a novel by Eileen Garvin. Our prompts reflect themes in the book, although you need not have read it to participate in the contest. We offer three options; please select whichever prompt inspires you. As you reflect, use the Sustainability Compass to orient your writing toward the interrelations of nature, society, economy, and wellbeing. Consider bringing your draft to the Miller Writing Center for feedback.

Option 1: Animals That Nourish Us

When European settlers colonized what is now the United States, they brought with them ruminants, swine, and poultry to produce meat, dairy, and eggs. Honeybees, which are native to the Old World, were also imported for farming.

Livestock, by definition, is raised by humans for our consumption. While most of us never meet the animals that feed us, the main characters in The Music of Bees bond with their tiny livestock, the honeybees. Contemplate any of the following questions:

  • If you have raised livestock or hunted for meat, what did you learn from that experience? How might people’s eating habits change if we all met the animals that feed us?
  • Why do we categorize certain animals as food while loving others as pets?
Option 2: Unintended Consequences

Neonicotinoids were developed to protect crops from pests. Yet, these pesticides harm an array of wild animals, including beneficial insects (such as bees), birds, fish, and mammals. Often, when trying to solve one environmental problem, we create new ones.

Consider any specific example—historical or contemporary—of unintended consequences arising from our efforts to use natural resources or to control the environment. Analyze what went awry—and more importantly, how as citizens, scientists, policymakers, or businesspeople, we can learn from such failings to make more sustainable decisions now and in the future.

Option 3: Recreating Oneself Outdoors

In The Music of Bees, kiteboarders congregate in the town of Hood River to enjoy its water, wind, and scenery. Our own region boasts outdoor recreation opportunities to suit many dispositions. Some will enjoy the thrill of dirt biking on the trails of Chewacla State Park, the tranquility of boating on Lake Martin, or the meditative pleasure of birdwatching, herping, or botanizing. Reflect on any of the following questions:

  • How does spending time outdoors “recreate” us? What’s your favorite memory of outdoor recreation, and what insights did you gain from your experience?
  • How can our recreational choices support sustainability, helping ensure later generations will enjoy the green and blue spaces that support human wellness?

Submission Guidelines

  • The writer must be an Auburn University undergraduate or graduate student enrolled in courses during the 2024 fall semester.
  • Submissions should not exceed 1,000 words.
  • If the essay draws from sources besides personal experience or common knowledge, complete APA- or MLA-style citations must be included.

Selection Criteria

Submissions will be evaluated by a committee based on:

  • Relevance to one of the prompts.
  • Reflection on the integrated and holistic nature of sustainability, i.e., the four parts of the sustainability compass (nature, wellbeing, society, economy).
  • Use of supporting details, coherent organization, and compelling writing style that reinforce the essay’s message.

Recognition of Award Winners

Winners will be honored at a special event with Eileen Garvin on October 23, 2024. Each winner will be awarded a cash prize and a trophy. Selected authors will be invited to publish their essays in a special issue of the Auburn Sustainability Blog.

Last updated: 05/06/2024