The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity and LRN Announce the Winners of the 2012 Prize in Ethics Essay Contest

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Humanity and Leadership Viewed Through the Ethical Lens of Young People

The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity and its exclusive corporate sponsor, LRN, have announced that Sarah Ransohoff, University of North Carolina, Class of 2012, is the first place winner of the 2012 Elie Wiesel Prize in Ethics essay contest.

The Elie Wiesel Prize in Ethics is an annual competition that challenges college students in the U.S. to submit essays on the urgent ethical issues that confront us in today’s complex world.

“Today’s college students are listening to the ethical voices within. They are drawing on their memories and the lessons of their teachers, and are concerned with the morality of their private and public experiences. They are challenging us all to make a difference,” said Elie Wiesel.

Ransohoff, a U.S. history major, won first place for her essay, “The Ethical Issues of Energy Dependence: Slavery in 1850s America and Oil Today.” Her submission compared similarities between America’s energy dependence on African slavery until 1862 and the U.S.’s current dependence on external sources of oil. Ransohoff declares that, “America has been addicted to both slavery and oil as energy sources, an addiction that corrupts us.”

“The winning students exemplify the inspirational leadership we so desperately need in order to thrive in this increasingly interconnected and ethically interdependent world,” said Dov Seidman, CEO of LRN. “Creating resiliency and forging a path of sustainable growth as we head into a challenging and complex future requires the values-based leadership that these students have demonstrated and will surely inspire in others.”

Thousands of young people have participated in the Foundation’s Prize in Ethics since its inception in 1989. In November 2010, Yale University Press published “An Ethical Compass: Coming of Age in the 21st Century,” a collection of outstanding essays from the first two decades of the prize.

Additional winners of the 2012 contest include:

  •     Second Prize: Victor Hernandez-Jayme, University of Texas at San Antonio, for his essay, “The Uniformed Merchants of Death,” in which he explores the role of consumer ethics in the war on drugs, and more specifically the war on drugs in Mexico. Hernandez-Jayme declares, “Our purchasing power is the most direct tool to trigger change, and it should not only be used to foster development, but it should first be used to prevent suffering.”
  •     Third Prize: Aimee Griffin, Gettysburg College, for her entry, “Victims of Progress: Examining the Collateral Damage of Medical Technology,” in which she questions whether choosing life is always the right choice. Griffin states, “As a species we have waged a war on death with modern technology and though there have been beautiful victories, there is also a great deal of pain.”
  •     Honorable Mention: Victoria Liu, University of Michigan, for her essay “Hazing and the College Student’s Voice,” in which she discusses the detrimental effects hazing has on students. Liu states that hazing “is a hidden danger nestled in the safe haven of higher education that threatens the brightest, the liveliest, and the most ethical in the next generation. The cycle must end; without a promising future society ceases to progress.”
  •     Honorable Mention: Logan Byrd, Brescia University, for her essay “True North,” examining maternity care in America and more specifically, midwifery care. Byrd concludes that we need to ensure that new mothers “fully understand the implications of their decisions and that they are treated with respect and consideration by medical professionals.”

About The Elie Wiesel Prize in Ethics Essay Contest

The Elie Wiesel Prize in Ethics Essay Contest encourages students to write thought-provoking personal essays that raise questions, single out issues and are rational arguments for ethical action.

Submissions for the 2013 contest will open in the Fall 2012 Semester. The contest is open to undergraduate full-time Juniors and Seniors who are registered at accredited four-year colleges or universities in the United States during the Fall 2012 Semester. All submissions to the essay contest are judged anonymously. A distinguished committee reviews the essays, and a jury headed by Elie Wiesel chooses the winners. Winning essays present intensely personal stories, originality, imagination, and clear articulation and genuine grappling with an ethical dilemma.

For suggested essay topics and more information, visit

About The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity

Elie Wiesel and his wife, Marion, established The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity soon after he was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize for Peace. The Foundation's mission, rooted in the memory of the Holocaust, is to combat indifference, intolerance and injustice through international dialogue and youth-focused programs that promote acceptance, understanding and equality. For more information: , “like” us on Facebook, or follow @eliewieselfdn on Twitter.

About LRN: Inspiring Principled Performance

Since 1994, LRN has helped 20 million people at more than 700 companies worldwide simultaneously navigate complex legal and regulatory environments and foster ethical cultures. LRN’s combination of practical tools, education and strategic advice helps companies translate their values into concrete corporate practices and leadership behaviors that create sustainable competitive advantage. In partnership with LRN, companies need not choose between living principles and maximizing profits, or between enhancing reputation and growing revenue: both are a product of principled performance. LRN works with organizations in more than 100 countries, and has offices in New York, Los Angeles, London and Mumbai. For more information, visit , follow @LRN on Twitter or join the HOW community on Facebook.

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