Tue, 01/22/2013 – Fri, 03/15/2013


The San Diego Center for Ethics in Science and Technology is once again coordinating a yearlong project for a common reading experience as well as programming related to a single book. This year’s controversial book is Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, which mobilized people the world over—and in a way no other comparable work of twentieth century nonfiction had. Besides raising our consciousness about ecology and launching the modern environmentalist movement, Carson’s sobering exposé inspired a 1972 ban that brought an end to the use of DDT in the United States.

In addition to the book’s content, the context of the publication – Carson’s own history as a woman in the sciences and in the academy – and the institutional backlash surrounding the book’s controversial messages – are also parts of the rich (and often contentious) moral and ethical history of this country’s experience of science, gender, political economy, and social courage.


With a specific argument, consider a modern social challenge with direct relationships to issues raised by the content and/or context of Silent Spring. Explain the central ethical concern related to this issue; outline the stakes of this issue, and consider who the primary stakeholders are. Finally, offer (at least) some general thoughts on how best to navigate this issue. As part of your argument, you may wish to discuss Silent Spring directly, but it is not a requirement for submission.

Regional Level-
1ST PRIZE: $600
2ND PRIZE: $300
3RD PRIZE: $100

Judging Criteria:

To be eligible to participate, you must be a current undergraduate student enrolled at your college.

Essays that meet the Submission Requirement will be scored on the four criteria listed below.

Significance: Identify and address a challenge that is of significant concern in the area of science and/or social justice stemming from your reading of Silent Spring.

Social or Ethical Principles: Explicitly identify the principles that are relevant and important to your consideration of the issue(s).

Stakeholders: Identify those who are directly or indirectly affected by the conduct or products in question, and explain why.

Solution: Explore one or more solutions (general or specific) to the ethical/social dilemma(s), (at least) briefly detailing some of its/their likely