2015/2016 Boston University
Trustee Scholarship
Competition Essay


Boston University Trustee Scholars are encouraged to develop well-informed and well-reasoned views of important political, social, and artistic issues. We select students who have a sense of how to present persuasive arguments in support of their views. With that in mind, please select one of the questions below, indicating your choice and respond with an essay explaining your perspective in 600 words or less.

  1. David Brooks, a columnist for The New York Times, recently wrote: “I don’t know if America has a leadership problem; it certainly has a followership problem. Vast majorities of Americans don’t trust their institutions. That’s not mostly because our institutions perform much worse than they did in 1925 and 1955, when they were widely trusted. It’s mostly because more people are cynical and like to pretend that they are better than everything else around them. Vanity has more to do with rising distrust than anything else.” In your opinion, does America have a followership problem? Does it have a leadership problem? If so, what do you think should be done about this?

  2. The author Saul Bellow wrote: “For a very long time the world found the wonderful in tales and poems, in painting and in musical performances. Now the wonderful is found in miraculous technology, in modern surgery, in jet propulsion, in computers, in television, and in lunar expeditions. Literature cannot compete with wonderful technology.” Do you agree? Why or why not?

  3. In a paper delivered in 2013 called “The Future of Employment,” the Oxford economists Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne estimate that in the coming two decades 47 percent of all jobs in the U.S. are at risk of disappearing due to computer- and robot-driven automation. They predict intensified polarization between the rich and the poor as a consequence, with the most jobs lost occurring among low-skill and low-wage positions and an ever-larger share of income held by a relative few. In your view, does this represent progress with its inevitable costs or a disturbing trend that must be slowed? Should governments intervene in any way to affect this process and its effects?

Please enter your essay into the field below and submit by December 1, 2015.

For questions about the Trustee Scholarship essay or the Trustee Scholarship Competition, please call 617-353-2320 or email scholars@bu.edu.

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