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Philip L. Carret Thomas Jefferson Essay Competition

This is a guide to the Philip L. Carret Thomas Jefferson Essay Competition. The essay competition was endowed in 1997 and was designed to have students reflect on the principles and ideals in Thomas Jefferson's life and career.

2015 Carret Essay Prompt

The bricks and mortar of an institution--the implementation of a specific architectural vision--reveal much about that institution's values. Thomas Jefferson, for instance, designed the "Academical Village" at the University of Virginia to communicate his distinctive ideas about issues ranging from the relationship of church and state, to the unique contributions of different fields of inquiry, to the value of intellectual community, to the working of racial privilege in the new nation, etc. Elon has had many architects and many leaders over the last 125 years, and they too have enshrined--self-consciously or not--specific values in our built environment. At times, Elon's builders have even appropriated some of Jefferson's architectural vocabulary to communicate their ideas, including the recent completion of our own Academic Village. In a well-organized essay of c. 2,000 words drawing on both close descriptions of specific spaces as well as appropriate primary sources, evaluate the messages Elon is sending/has sent historically through its architectural choices.