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2014 Nammour Student Essay Competition

In Praise of Idleness

The Department of Philosophy and the Center for Practical and Professional Ethics at Sacramento State University is sponsoring a student essay competition in connection with the 2014 Nammour Symposium, which occurs April 15th and 16th. The competition is open to all students currently enrolled at Sacramento State University as well as those attending one of the community colleges in the Los Rios Community College District. 

The theme of the 2014 Nammour Symposium is "The Place of Work"and the topic of the student essay competition is "In Praise of Idleness."  This is the title of a famous, delightful and thought-provoking article by Bertrand Russell, which you will find at the link below.

In Praise of Idleness, by Bertrand Russellidleness

Students are invited to write short critical essays focusing on this article. The department recommends following the format for writing analytical essays located (here), however this is not required. Russell's article is well-known and has been the subject of much discussion, which will be easy for you to locate. However, below is a link to a recent article in the New York Times by Gary Gutting, which may help you to get started thinking about Russell's piece.

What Work Is Really For, by Gary Gutting

Up to three winning essays will be selected, and each winner will receive 200 dollars.  Authors of the winning essays will present them on a student panel at the Nammour Symposium.

Essays should have an argumentative structure; i.e., they should develop a clear line of reasoning, either critical or providing further support, of the target article or some aspect of it.

There is no minimum or maximum page length, but winning essays must be capable of being presented in 20 minutes or less.

Submission Requirements

  • Essays are due on April 6th.  Late essays are not guaranteed consideration. 
  • Essays should be double-spaced and conform to Department writing and format guidelines. (
  • Submit your essay as an attachment to an e-mail to 
  • Write "Nammour Student Essay Competition Submission" as the subject of the e-mail.
  • Identify yourself in the e-mail, but do not write your name on the essay.  
  • Supply both an e-mail (if different from the one you use to submit the essay) and a phone number at which you can be easily reached.



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