The Humanities, Belonging, and the Gospel:
Student Essay & Creative Works Competition

$750 prize each for first place essay and first place creative work (visual art, poem, short film, or music) 

In August 2021 BYU issued a “Statement on Belonging” that makes the following assertion: 

We are united by our common primary identity as children of God (Acts 17:29; Psalm 82:6) and our commitment to the truths of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ (BYU Mission Statement). We strive to create a community of belonging composed of students, faculty, and staff whose hearts are knit together in love. 

Likewise the College of Humanities has offered its own “Statement on Inclusion,” inviting us to

  • Respect and value the contributions of people from backgrounds, religions, and cultures other than our own, 
  • Be aware of hurtful words and phrases, 
  • Learn about and understand different cultural traditions,
  • Acknowledge discomfort when participating in class discussions about difficult topics, 
  • Speak up on behalf of those who may be hurt by harmful speech, 
  • Show willingness to work in groups with people of diverse backgrounds, 
  • Respond with humility and teachability when our words offend, 
  • Approach these issues with sincerity, respect, and compassion, and 
  • Express tolerance, love, and understanding.  

How has your study in the Humanities—of visual art, literature, cultures, languages, linguistics, music, and philosophy—prepared you to participate in these commitments? During a time of significant contention over identity and culture, we believe we can reflect on our own experiences as disciples of Jesus Christ engaging passionately in the Humanities to create a beloved community.  

Specifically, we want to know how you, dear students, make connections between the Humanities, a culture of belonging, and the Gospel. How has your experience studying the Humanities helped you develop, in the words of the BYU Mission Statement, “devout love of God and a loving, genuine concern or the welfare of our neighbor”? Any student currently enrolled in a class offered by the college of Humanities is eligible to enter. 

Submit an essay of no more than 1,000 words or a piece of creative work (visual art, poem, short film, or music) on these issues to our competition! The Humanities Center will award a $750 prize each to the best essay and the best creative work (poetry, visual art, etc.). There will also be award money for honorable mentions. Please send them as an email attachment to  

Deadline: December 31, 2021

Questions to consider 

How do the things we study in the Humanities challenge or reinforce our “common primary identity as children of God”? 

What learning experiences have you had in the College of Humanities that have “created and supported an environment of belonging”? 

How has your Humanities degree helped you “learn about and understand different cultural traditions”? 

How does studying the Humanities involve risks to belonging—risks worth taking? 

What do we learn from the Humanities about the relationship between identity of self and identity of community? 

How does the Gospel of Jesus Christ give us a unique lens for studying art, identity, history, text, and story?

How is love a fundamental aspect of diversity, equity, and belonging?  

How has your “racial understanding” advanced through the study of languages, literatures, visual art (including film), and/or philosophy? What specific academic projects have advanced your understanding of race?