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The Norman Miller Essay in Public Understanding

Press-Gazette Media and the Norman Miller Center for Peace, Justice & Public Understanding at St. Norbert College are pleased to announce an essay contest open to high school students in Northeastern Wisconsin.

The Norman Miller Essay in Public Understanding is named for the late Norman Miller, a Green Bay business leader and longtime advocate for human rights. This essay honors his legacy by encouraging better understanding between people, both domestically and internationally. It is tied to the Norman and Louis Miller Lecture in Public Understanding at St. Norbert College, which promotes unity, communication and tolerance among different cultures, religions, ethnicities and traditions.

This essay contest encourages area youth to consider a career in journalism, providing them with an opportunity to write an opinion piece on diversity and understanding.    

The format will be an opinion piece, 250-300 words, around two central questions on “Overcoming Religious Prejudice in America.”

  • Why is inter-religious understanding vital for our nation’s future?
  • How can ordinary citizens, especially students, work to overcome religious prejudice? 
The contest is open to high school students from Northeastern Wisconsin. 

Essay Criteria and Expectations

Creativity: Does the author take a creative approach or perspective regarding diversity and community change?
Mechanics: Does the author follow the standard rules of structure, grammar, spelling, and punctuation?
Reasoning: Are the theme and argument of the article well reasoned and logical? Does the argument have a logical foundation that leads to a well-considered conclusion?
Focus: Does the article focus on the issue of diversity and positive change? Does it provide opportunity to celebrate diversity on some level?

Judges will assess all submissions according to the following rubric:







Lacked original thought.

Offered an idea that has been used before, but put his/her own fresh approach to it.

Has an interesting view of diversity and offered a solid idea for change that is realistic and practical.

Articulated an innovative idea that his/her community might want to try.


There were mechanical errors in the work that detracted from the meaning or impact of the work as a whole.

The piece was well written.  Any errors in the mechanics did not affect the impact of the piece.

The piece was well written. While there were no mechanical errors, the work did not contain complex structures or language.

The piece demonstrated strength in the use of structure, grammar, and the rules of language.


Logic was hard to follow.

Had one or two strong elements but failed to carry through the theme throughout the entire piece.

Made good points, but was not persuasive enough in explaining why we should celebrate diversity.

Made clear points, had a strong theme that flowed from beginning to end, and evoked a sense of urgency.


The piece was unfocused and not about celebrating diversity.

While some good points were raised, the piece did not articulate how he/she would promote tolerance and understanding, and overall lacked imagination.

Demonstrated knowledge of diversity and the role it plays in his/her community, but lacked passion despite being a good effort.

Wrote with passion and demonstrated a clear understanding of what diversity means to him/her, while articulating need for positive change.

Essay Awards and Recipients

Assessment of the articles will take place through a two-step process. Volunteer judges will conduct initial screening of entries to determine finalists. A panel of Press-Gazette Media judges will then determine award recipients.

The following awards will be presented to recipients by Eboo Patel, a featured speaker in the Norman and Louis Miller Lecture in Public Understanding, preceding his lecture on Feb. 27, 2014 at St. Norbert College:
  • First place: $2,000 scholarship to St. Norbert College and an iPad (iPad provided by the Gannett Co.)
  • Second place: $1,000 scholarship to St. Norbert College
  • Third place: $1,000 scholarship to St. Norbert College

Note: To redeem the scholarship, student must be admitted to St. Norbert College as a full-time degree-seeking student by February 1 on the year of entry.

Submission Information:

Deadline is Jan. 17, 2014.

Please send essays and questions to:

Catherine Kasten
St. Norbert College
100 Grant Street
De Pere, WI  54115
Phone: 920-403-3919


Thank you to our co-sponsor, Press-Gazette Media!

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Norman Miller Center for Peace, Justice & Public Understanding

Phone: (920) 403-3881
Fax: (920) 403-4088

St. Norbert College • 100 Grant Street • De Pere, WI 54115-2099 • 920-337-3181