Call for Submissions: Disability Studies Undergraduate Essay Contest, The Ohio State University

Call for Submissions: Disability Studies Undergraduate Essay Contest

The Ohio State University Disability Studies Graduate Student Association

(DSGSA) solicits entries for our inaugural undergraduate essay contest. As an interdisciplinary graduate student organization, DSGSA is committed to supporting scholarship and activism that examines the nature, meaning, and consequences of disability in global culture from an integrated social, political, and cultural model. In keeping with our mission, we seek to highlight the outstanding work of undergraduate students from across the country and within the many interdisciplinary fields that compose disability studies.

For this contest, we are seeking student essays (both text-based and multimodal) that investigate the study of disability from any disciplinary background, in a range of genres and approaches.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

1. Representations of disability in film, theatre, dance, literature, or other arts

2. Disability history and culture

3. Intersectionality of disability with other social identities and related systems of oppression, domination, or discrimination (e.g., race, class, sexuality, and/or gender)

4. Disability and social media (e.g., online activism, digital disability communities, or bullying)

5. Disability and technology (e.g., politics of the interface, accommodation inequity, or in[ter]dependence)

6. Disability in pop culture

7. Disability and civil rights activism

8. Disability and rights

9. Disability in non-Western cultures, including the global South and colonized cultures in the global North

10. Teaching and disability

11. Disability, work, employment, and society

12. Health, wellness, and disability

13. Universal design, inclusive design, user experience design, or other disability-related design frameworks

14. Disability after the 2016 U.S. Presidential election

The contest will award cash prizes to at least three outstanding individual or collaborative projects in the following amounts: one first prize of $100, a second prize of $50, and a third prize of $25. In addition, winners will be announced on the DSGSA / Disability Studies website.


Essay Requirements

We invite both text-based and multimodal submissions: papers, articles, short movies, podcast episodes, original recorded performances, etc. In addition to written papers, authors are invited to experiment with sound, images, videos, and other content significant to the purpose of their projects. All submissions must be designed with accessibility in mind.

For text-based projects, submissions should be limited to 2000 words. For multimodal projects, submissions should be no longer than 10 minutes, and should additionally include a short artist/designer statement of no more than 500 words or 2 minutes.

All projects should include citation information for external sources in a method consistent with its selected genre. For example, a research article should include a works cited page appropriate to its field of study; a video should include closing credits.


Any student currently enrolled or taking classes as an undergraduate is encouraged to apply. Projects produced for or derived from previous coursework are also eligible for submission and should include a short statement from an instructor verifying its status as an undergraduate submission.


Essay submissions should be formatted and saved as either (for text) DOC, DOCX, PDF, or RTF; (for video) MP4, AVI, MPG, or MOV; or (for audio) MP3 or WAV.

Submissions should be emailed as an attachment or attachments to with the subject line “DSGSA Undergraduate Essay Contest.” In this email, include the name(s) of the submitting author(s), email address for each author, program affiliation, the name of the instructor and course for which the project was created (if submitting as a former undergraduate student), and current year of study. No identifying information should appear within submitted documents or files.

Questions about the contest and all other correspondence should be directed to We encourage early submission of questions to allow for adequate response before the submission deadline, and we cannot guarantee a response to questions submitted after February 22.

Eligible submissions received before the end of March 1, 2017 will be forwarded to a selection committee for consideration.

Selection Process

Essays will be judged on originality of argument and quality of composition. Submissions will undergo review by two or more referees from the DSGSA Judging Committee, composed of members of the Ohio State University Disability Studies Graduate Student Association. All decisions are final.

Award announcements will be made by May 1, 2017.

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