Essay Contest #3

What are Universities for?

With classes going online at the University of Chicago and across the world, it seems like a good time to reflect on what universities are for. Historically, universities have offered people the chance to gather in one place and talk through difficult ideas. Now, with classes taking place over Zoom, many students and teachers have found themselves struggling to replicate what felt so singular about the experience of being in the classroom. In light of this, Night Owls would like to invite you to reflect on what is so special about universities. What can universities do that other institutions can’t? What aspects of universities now seem important than ever? What aspects seem less important? What purpose do universities serve now—and what purposes could they come to serve? Possible points of reflection include:

  • Your university experience
  • What universities can (and can’t) do
  • Universities and community
  • A world without universities
  • Universities in the age of COVID-19
  • What universities are vs. what they could be

Send your essays, letters, cartoons, fiction, poetry, memoirs, policy memos, screenplays of 800 words or fewer to by next Wednesday, April 22, at 3 pm CST. 

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