Carli Snyder talks about her research and essay as the winner of the Lemkin Essay Contest at PLU, Tuesday, April 4, 2017. (Photo: John Froschauer/PLU)
Carli Snyder talks about her research and essay as the winner of the Lemkin Essay Contest at PLU, Tuesday, April 4, 2017. (Photo: John Froschauer/PLU)

GENOCIDE: What does it mean to you?

Through the efforts of alumnus and Regent Donald R. Morken and colleague Bruce Littman, PLU sponsors annual scholarships in honor of Raphael Lemkin. Lemkin coined the term “genocide” and labored for passage of the United Nations genocide convention, which outlaws destruction of races and groups. The Raphael Lemkin Trust, founded by Irving Young of Haifa, Israel, helps support prizes and scholarships. Currently offered at Yale Law School, Duke University Law School, Hamilton College and others, the prizes serve to inspire young people to reflect upon the issue of genocide and to inform them about Raphael Lemkin.

PLU invites currently registered students to write an essay on the topic of genocide. A panel of faculty members will judge the essays. The first-place essay writer will be awarded a $750 prize; the second-place award will be $250.

Essays should reflect Raphael Lemkin’s ideals and concerns to include such topics as the concept and definition of genocide, ethical and legal aspects of genocide and international law, prevention of genocide and enforcement of the genocide convention, historical incidents of genocide, current events and the issue of genocide or other appropriate essay topics discussed and negotiated between contestants and the faculty review committee prior to the final submission.

Essays must demonstrate that students have read the biographical sketch on Raphael Lemkin, available at College of Liberal Studies document library.

Each year, PLU offers students a chance to participate in a Lemkin Essay contest. Students are asked to write a 7-10 page essay on the topic “Genocide: What does it mean to you?” A panel of faculty members judge the essays. The first place essay winner will be awarded $750. Second place award is $250. All essay contributors will be invited to attend the Lemkin Lecture where the awards are announced, which will be held virtually this year.

Format the essay in Word and send it electronically to Teri Potts, Sr. Administrative Assistant, College of Liberal Studies, at The final submission must include a cover sheet, an abstract and the completed essay. The cover sheet is to include your name, your PLU I.D. #, a current mailing address, email address and telephone number. Format must follow these guidelines: the essay should be at least 7-10 pages in length, the pages should be numbered, double-spaced with margins 1” – 1.25”, with a font size of 12 point. The essay should have either footnotes or endnotes and those citations must be in either the Chicago Manual of Style or the MLA format.

For additional information, contact Professor Beth Griech-Polelle via email: