Joseph E. Connolly ’72 Memorial Prizes

Call for applications: 2023-24 Joseph E. Connolly ’72 Memorial Prizes for undergraduate essays on religion and politics/society

Throughout history and across the contemporary global sphere, religious practice and ideology interweave themselves in the political and social fabric of human life. The Joseph E. Connolly ’72 Memorial Prizes are awarded to undergraduates who have demonstrated exceptional scholarship at the intersection of religion and politics or society. The Connolly Prizes seek to support, recognize, and inspire imaginative, wide-ranging undergraduate research that addresses these themes in any area of the humanities, and relating to religion(s), religious beliefs, and religious practices in the broadest sense.

Up to two prizes of $500 each will be awarded for essays by students at the freshman, sophomore, or junior levels. In addition, up to two prizes of $1500 each will be awarded to seniors for a senior honors thesis or capstone project.


Cornell undergraduates from all colleges are eligible to apply, including December 2023 graduates.

Application Guidelines

Applications must be submitted as pdf files to the at by April 10, 2024 with the subject line “Connolly Prize submission: [Last Name].”

Applications must include:

  • A cover page with:
    • Student’s name
    • Cornell email address
    • 7-digit Cornell ID number
    • Year of study (freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior)
    • College, major (or anticipated major), and any minor(s) (or anticipated minor(s))
    • Anticipated graduation month and year
    • Title of essay submitted
    • If needed, any context for the submission (such as, “adapted from a longer honors thesis” or the class assignment for which it was written)
  • An essay related to the intersection of religion and politics or society. The submitted essay should be no more than 30 pages in length (double-spaced in size 12 font). Do NOT include your name or any identifying information on any of the essay pages. Identifying information should only be included on the cover page.


Submissions will be reviewed by an interdisciplinary faculty committee convened by the chair of the Religious Studies Program. Prizes will be announced in early May 2024.

Past Winners

2023: Charlotte Rose Mandy '23, Isabelle Pappas '23, Imani Finkley '24, Magda Smith '24
2022: Benjamin Velani '22, Danielle Greco '22, Prameela Kottapalli '23, Derek Jiang '23