The University of Wisconsin System announced a $20,000 annual scholarship on Nov. 11 to the Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation’s Civics Games as well as several initiatives aimed at promoting free speech and fostering civil dialogue around citizenship and speech at the universities.
Launched in 2018, the Civics Games serve as a statewide civics bowl for high school students — complete with local, regional and statewide competitions. The initiative intends to increase participation in the games.
“Our $20,000 annual commitment to the Wisconsin Civics Games is designed to encourage citizenship among middle and high school students,” said Mark Pitsch, UW System media relations director. “[The funds are designed] to elevate and promote the games.”
The 2023 Civics Games will take place both in person and virtually, with virtual regional competitions in mid-April and the state finals at Madison’s Capitol on May 12. Editorial contests will accompany this year’s games.
This year’s Wisconsin Civics Games Editorial Writing and Cartoon Contest focuses on the guiding theme of the First Amendment — the scholarship allowing large prizes for the winners. First place winners will receive $500, with $250, $100 and $50 prizes awarded to second, third and honorably mentioned winners, respectively. The winning essays and cartoons will be published in newspapers across Wisconsin.
Also included in the announced initiatives — a group of faculty researchers will soon distribute a survey intended to solicit student opinions on free speech, viewpoint diversity and self-censorship on UW campuses. The results will be used to guide decisions moving forward.
“We will assess the results of the survey when they are available and decide proper steps at that time,” Pitsch explained.
Interested middle and high school students can register for the Civics Games until Feb. 20 at wisconsincivicsgames.com.
The UW System is counting on these new initiatives to boost community citizenship and civil dialogue.
“We all benefit from citizens who are engaged in their communities,” Pitsch said.