AnthroDay Unessay Competition

The American Anthropological Association invites students to participate in the 2024 AnthroDay Unessay Competition. This contest encourages students to think critically about an anthropological question, but unlike a traditional essay contest, students can be creative and respond to the prompt in a way that is meaningful to them. 


The 2024 theme for the unessay contest is “technology”. Submissions should address how technology has impacted human life or society. We invite participants to reflect upon three areas of “technology”: artificial intelligence (AI), change and adaptation, and creativity.  Students must submit an original piece of work that responds to one of the following topics:  

  • How might the expansion of artificial intelligence impact or change aspects of your daily life, relationships, or society?  
  • Shifting technology often requires people to adapt to change. Describe a time when you or someone you know had to significantly alter behaviors, routines, or perspectives due to changing technology.  
  • With expanding technological capabilities, the nature of human creativity is evolving. How do you see modern technology impacting art and innovation?   

The contest is open to students in sixth through twelfth grades. Submissions will be judged in two separate grade divisions: 

  1. Middle: 6th – 8th grade 
  2. High: 9th – 12th grade 

What is an Unessay?

Unlike a traditional essay competition, an unessay invites students to choose the format they submit. Students are encouraged to think creatively about the topic and respond to the prompt in a format they see fit. 

Examples of unessay submissions include but are not limited to a comic strip, playlist, podcast interview, script for a play, a game, a film/video clip, a series of photographs, visual artwork, or a magazine-style article. You can find examples of previous unessay submissions here. 

Students are welcome to submit entries in any format, including ones not listed above, as long as they meet the following criteria. 

Submission Criteria

  1. Students must submit an original piece of work that responds to the theme of “technology”. This theme is open to the student’s interpretation. 
  2. Submissions must comply with the following time limits, word counts, and submission formats: 
    1. Maximum of 500 words for any text-based responses, such as poetry and essays. 
    2. Maximum of 5 minutes for any audio and video submissions, such as podcasts, music, and performances. 
    3. All image-based submissions should be submitted as a JPEG file, such as photos of artwork or photography. 
  3. Students are welcome to use artificial intelligence tools to assist with the creation of their submission; however, they must indicate the tool used and how they used it in developing their piece.   
  4. Students under 13 must have a parent / guardian submit their work. 

Notification and Prize: 

Due to the high volume of applications, the winners of the unessay contest will now be notified via email by February 28, 2024 to ensure that every submission is properly reviewed. Please reach out to Marketing Manager Meghan Horihan at gro.orhtnanacirema@nahirohm with any questions.

The winning unessay(s) will have their content published by the American Anthropological Association and will receive a $50.00 gift card.   

Submissions for the Unessay Contest are now closed.