This prize was originally established through a gift from Aaron Clark in 1859. It was later reestablished in 1892 through a gift from the Fayerweather estate.
Open to the class of 2013, The Clark Prize is directed to all senior students in all disciplines. The Clark competition includes both an essay and a speech. The paper will address the assigned topic. The essay, of not more than 10 pages, will be turned in to the Oral Communication Center at the beginning of the Spring semester.
A group of three faculty judges will provide a blind review of the senior papers. Based on that review and the performance of all entrants in the preliminary speaking round, three seniors will be chosen to speak in the final round of the competition. The prize will be awarded to the senior who most effectively addresses the assigned topic.
In his New York Times column of October 22, 2012, Dennis Overbye wrote:
“The news last week that there is a planet circling Alpha Centauri B, only a little more than four light-years away, set off an epidemic of daydreaming among the astronomical and sci-fi set….
“‘I think we should drop everything and send a probe there,’ said Sara Seager, an astronomer at M.I.T., echoing a call made last year by the exoplanet pioneer Geoff Marcy of the University of California, Berkeley.
“There is in fact somebody in charge of doing something just like that. Her name is Mae Jemison, a former astronaut, engineer, dancer, actor and entrepreneur. This year she, in conjunction with the nonprofit foundation Icarus Interstellar, won a $500,000 government grant to set up 100 Year Starship, an organization that is to come up with a business plan for interstellar travel.” (nytimes.com)
A primary goal of 100 Year Starship is to generate innovative thinking focused on this challenge: “What if a mission designed to take humans beyond our solar system had to be launched in the year 2020?” Starship 2020, as the challenge is called, “is an exercise to help identify and understand more clearly the challenges, possible solutions and any absolute roadblocks to human interstellar travel today.” (100yss.org)
For the 2013 Clark Prize public speaking competition, you are invited to respond to the Starship 2020 exercise. Approaching this exercise from any disciplinary perspective, critically analyze one of the challenges to accomplishing the mission of interstellar exploration in your lifetime, and bravely sketch your own original solution to that challenge.
Your essay must be turned in to the Oral Communication Center (KJ 222) by 4 pm Monday February 11, 2013.
All interested students are asked to sign up in advance. Registration for the competition indicates a commitment to participate. Contact James Helmer if you are interested in participating.
A group of three faculty members ("Reading Committee") will provide a blind review of the essays submitted. Based on the rankings assigned by the committee, up to six semi-finalists will be selected for the preliminary competition round. Semi-finalists will each present a three to five minute oral summation based on their written paper. Each judge will assign a score for each competitor's presentation. The three competitors with the highest scores will advance to the final round of the competition.
Each competitor will present a six to eight minute speech based on their written paper and preliminary presentation. Each judge will assign a score for each competitor's presentation. The competitor receiving the highest final score will be determined to be the Clark Prize recipient.
$1,550. The Clark Prize winner will be recognized at the Class and Charter Day ceremony.