JoAnne Rafalson Memorial Essay Contest

The Department of Philosophy is pleased to announce that Pierce Neal has been chosen as the winner of the Rafalson Essay Contest for 2023. Pierce will present the prize-winning paper, "Gibbardian Parity Theses and Moore-Paradoxical Assertions," in a departmental colloquium on Friday, April 28, 2023. Congratulations, Pierce, on a job well done!

2024 Call for Papers 

The Department of Philosophy invites submissions for the twenty-third annual (2024) JoAnne Rafalson Memorial Essay Contest. The contest is open to all graduate students enrolled in, and pursuing the M.A. degree in, the Department of Philosophy at Northern Illinois University. Papers in any area of philosophy are eligible. The author of the winning paper will receive a cash prize of $1,000, which will be awarded without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, national origin, disability status, or financial need. A departmental colloquium will be scheduled in spring 2024, at which the recipient will present the winning paper to faculty, graduate students, and the interested public.

Contestants must submit their essays in accordance with the following submission guidelines. Each contestant may submit only one paper to the contest. Papers must employ gender-neutral language. Each paper must be double-spaced, with at least one-inch margins and page numbers. Each paper must be accompanied by an abstract of no more than 150 words. There must be a single cover sheet specifying title and author. To permit blind reviewing, there should be no self-references or other identifying elements within the papers; authors should identify themselves only on the accompanying cover sheet. Papers must not exceed a length that could be presented, reading at a moderate pace, in 45 minutes or less.

The deadline for submissions is Feb. 16, 2024. Papers should be submitted by email to the departmental Office Administrator, Linda Davis, at She will remove the cover sheet with the author's name, assign each paper a numerical code, and retain the identifying information until the winning paper has been selected.

Origin of the JoAnne Rafalson Memorial Essay Contest

The JoAnne Rafalson Memorial Essay Contest is funded by an endowment established by Bruce Rafalson to memorialize JoAnne Rafalson and to recognize and support outstanding achievement in philosophical essay writing by NIU philosophy graduate students. Mr. Rafalson is a graduate of NIU’s M.A. program in philosophy.

Essay Contest Winners

2023 Pierce Neal
2022 Nicholas Piedmont
2021 William Perrin
2020 Jacob Zimbelman
2019 Benjamin Keoseyan
2018 Christopher Copan
2017 Margaret Fife
2016 Ben Cilwick
2015 Jason Farr
2014 Emma Duncan
2013 Griffin Klemick
2012 Micah Smith
2011 Dylan Black
2010 Ben Rohrs
2009 Bryan Chambliss
2008 Blake Roeber
2007 Blake Roeber
2006 Daniel Crow
2005 Brandon Warmke
2004 Peter Nichols
2003 David Tostenson
2002 Patrick Leland