LAWRENCE – Recent University of Kansas graduate Sam Steuart has won the Philip W. Whitcomb Memorial Essay Prize at KU with an essay on the relationship between growing prison populations and the reduction of welfare support in U.S. public policy.
“Sam presented a compelling argument about important trends in U.S. history that have marked Kansas public policy reform,” said Scott Jenkins, associate professor of philosophy and chair of the Whitcomb essay selection committee. “Steuart illustrated how Kansas welfare reform and the 1980s war on drugs combined to move low-income U.S. citizens into prisons.”
Steuart, of Topeka, plans to save the $500 prize to support his study at Oxford University, where he will attend on a Marshall Scholarship this fall.
Coincidentally, 110 years ago, Philip Whitcomb – also of Topeka – prepared to study at Oxford as one of Kansas’ first Rhodes Scholars
Steuart graduated this spring with bachelor’s degrees in both biochemistry and American studies, with a minor in Spanish. While at KU, he worked closely with the Honors Program, the Center for Community Outreach, and he earned the nationally competitive honors of Truman Scholar and Marshall Scholar.
The Whitcomb Prize memorializes Philip Whitcomb as a distinguished scholar who completed his doctorate in philosophy at KU at the age of 90 in 1981. His legacy in this award is to recognize students who think critically about public policy and its relationship to knowledge.
Steuart’s essay – and those of previous winners – may be read at: https://honors.ku.edu/whitcomb-essay-contest.