CSPI Essay Contest: Policy Reform for Progress

December 13, 2021 by Richard Hanania1

CSPI is interested in the social and political determinants of scientific and technological progress. While politics is often contentious, we believe that certain reforms, although unlikely to excite passion among a wide swath of the public, can have an outsized effect on technological development and, ultimately, economic growth.

In that spirit, we are pleased to announce an essay contest under the theme of “policy reform for progress.” We’re seeking submissions that propose a plan for a reform that can facilitate or remove a barrier to the development or application of an important new technology, such as self-driving cars, commercial space travel, or anti-aging treatments.

CSPI fellows and members of the progress studies community will judge the contest, and the winners will be announced 2-4 weeks after the deadline. 1st prize is $5000, 2nd prize is $2500, and 3rd prize is $1000. A to-be-determined number of essays will get $500 each, and there will also be honorable mentions. Prize-winning essays will be published on our blog and website, promoted, and brought to the attention of policymakers.

Contest Rules:

  1. Each essay should focus on a regulatory reform that would accelerate progress in an important technological or scientific area in the American context.
  2. You must cite the specific regulatory law or policy you want to create or change, the benefits to be gained, and say something about what would be required (i.e., new statute, agency-based decision, executive order, etc.). The last part may require a bit of legal research, yet that shouldn’t be too hard for anyone with an interest in technology and regulation. We’re looking for realistic proposals, something like a new agency with the budget of the Pentagon and total control over the economy would be unlikely to win. Proposals will be judged based on some combination of their likely effects on scientific and technological progress and their political feasibility. The goal is to provide practical guidance to policymakers and regulators.
  3. We’re interested in proposals for regulatory reform, not necessarily deregulation. This means proposals that call for more government intervention in an area and those that call for less are both acceptable.
  4. There is no specific word count, but somewhere around 1,000-2,000 words should be appropriate.
  5. If you have more than one good idea, you can submit multiple proposals, within reason.
  6. Co-authored pieces are fine, but you will have to split any winnings. Collaborations between technology experts and legal experts might be particularly fruitful.
  7. The contest is open to all, but students and other young people are particularly encouraged to apply.
  8. DEADLINE: All essays must be submitted to contact@cspicenter.org by March 31, 2022. They should be submitted in a Word document, with the email title ESSAY CONTEST. You should get a confirmation that your entry was received. If you don’t, let us know.
  9. To stay current on any updates on the contest, subscribe to the CSPI newsletter: cspi.substack.com.

If you’re wondering whether a topic is suitable or have any other questions, send us an email at contact@cspicenter.org. 

Good luck!

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