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The Amplify Competition is an opportunity for Smith College students to share their knowledge, stories and perspectives in a public forum and raise their voices to bring about positive change. The competition specifically seeks to amplify students’ voices as they draw attention to the issues that matter to them. It is open to all current Smith students, and entries can be drawn from assignments completed for a course taken for credit in the past year, or a piece developed outside of a student’s course work.


Competition Categories

This year, the Wurtele Center for Leadership is partnering with the Smith Office for the Arts (SOFA) and Neilson Library to sponsor the 2023-24 Amplify Public Art Competition.  We are issuing a Call for Proposals (CFP) for a temporary public art project in the form of an installation to be displayed on the ground floor of Neilson Library in response to this fall’s exhibition of a curated set of protest posters selected from the Library’s Special Collections, which represent a variety of social, political, and cultural issues. Highlighting the range of artistic forms that protesters have used to inspire change, the fall exhibition invites visitors to explore how institutions, organizations, and individuals raised awareness about pressing issues of social and political activism in the 20th Century.

For the Amplify CFP, we invite proposals from students that take the form of a public art response to the exhibit that was featured in the fall, activating the public space of Neilson’s ground floor in ways that extend the experience of passers-by as they encounter student work on the themes explored in the original exhibit. We will select three proposals to feature, placed next to each other on the expanse of wall after the fall exhibition is removed.


We are now accepting proposals for the Fall 2023 Amplify Public Art Competition. The full Call for Proposals and link to the application are now available. Proposals are due Monday, November 20, 2023.

For the purposes of this competition, we define public speaking as the verbal delivery of knowledge and ideas with the intent of influencing or enhancing a listener’s views on a particular topic or issue. This category will take the form of a public event at which students may speak in one of two formats: a “TED”-style talk of no more than 5 minutes or a piece of original spoken-word poetry of no more than 5 minutes. The event takes place on February 4, 2024, 3-5pm. Judges will be present to evaluate speaking submissions. After the speaking event, videos of public speaking performances will be posted on the Amplify Competition website in order to be considered for the People’s Choice Award. All public speaking awards will therefore be given not at the speaking event but rather at the overall Amplify Award Ceremony on March 4, 2024, 7-8:00pm.


Registration opens Friday, January 5, 2024, for the Amplify Public Speaking Competition. Students interested in participating competition should register no later than Sunday, January 14, 2024. Registered students will receive further communication about additional competition logistics and criteria. Check back here on January 5 for the link to register.

We define public writing as any written piece (published or intended to be published) that seeks to influence or enhance a reader’s views on or raise the visibility or salience of a particular topic or issue. This includes:

  • Opinion Pieces: op-ed (no more than 1200 words) written in the last 12 months, either as part of a Smith College course assignment or as an independent submission to a publication
  • Other Articles: A piece of long-form journalism, online blog or zine (online or physical copy) created in the last 12 months, either as part of a Smith College course assignment or as an independent project. NOTE: While longer pieces are acceptable, submitters to the Public Writing category are advised to consider whether they have conveyed their argument in as concise a manner as possible.

In previous year’s competitions, the most successful entries have offered well-researched and deeply nuanced perspectives on current issues. Judges in this category generally look for pieces of writing that offer a fresh take on the topic, and that they can imagine encountering in public media outlets. Fictional writing and poetry have historically not been chosen for prizes in this category. (Poets should consider delivering a spoken-word poem in the Public Speaking category.)


Check back here on January 5, 2024 for the link to submit a piece of public writing.

We define a multimedia piece as any submission that combines different content forms such as text, audio, images, animations, or video into a single project for purposes of communicating information to an audience, in order to influence or enhance an audience member’s perspectives on or raise the visibility or salience of a particular topic or issue. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Podcast Episode: Originally written podcast episode of no more than 60 minutes. Podcasts can leverage interviews and content from other sources, but should marshal those voices in service of a larger argument advanced by the creator of the piece.
  • Interactive Website: a website that includes both text and imagery to inform viewers about a current issue.
  • Original Short Film: Documentary or artistic film no longer than 30 minutes in length.
  • Graphic Essay or Comic Book: Original work that incorporates imagery and text and draws on research to address a particular issue.

In previous years' competitions, the most successful entries have been those that are intentionally designed for the chosen format, whether that is digital or analog, and that utilize sound and/or visual design compellingly to engage the audience. These entries have typically blended creative elements or approaches (for example, storytelling, prose, or poetry) with a clear and well-researched connection to a topic or issue of public interest.


Check back here on January 5, 2024 for the link to submit a multimedia piece.


Students may enter submissions in four categories: Public Speaking, Public Writing, Multimedia, and Public Art. Students submitting to the Public Speaking Category will deliver their submission at a public event at the start of the spring semester. Students participating in the Public Art portion of the competition will respond to our Amplify Call for Proposals to compete for an honorarium and support to complete a specific project. All submissions will be published on a consolidated Amplify website, which will be accessible only within the Smith College community. Submissions will be entered to compete for prizes in each of the four categories, plus a “People’s Choice” Award.

Prize winners will be announced at the Amplify Awards Event on March 4, 2024, 7–8:00 p.m.


The categories of Public Speaking, Public Writing and Multimedia will be judged by a panel of three judges, made up of a combination of current Smith faculty or staff, alumnae and local practitioners.

The judging panel for Public Art will include members from the same categories, but be comprised of five members, including representatives from the Smith Office for the Arts (SOFA) and the Neilson Library.

General Submission Guidelines

  • Students may submit one entry per category.  Students may not submit the same entry to multiple categories, however.  Therefore, in any given competition year, an individual student may submit up to four distinct entries in the four categories of the Amplify competition.
  • Students may submit entries that are collaboratively created. The entry should be submitted only once; be sure to enter all co-creators’ names in the submission form. Should the entry be chosen for a prize, that prize will be split between the co-creators.
  • Entries may be, but are not required to be, assignments completed for a Smith College course.
  • Entries may be in languages other than English. Please note that the Wurtele Center for Leadership will publish both the original submission and an English translation on the Amplify website.
  • Entries do not need to have been published. However, judges will be looking for pieces that hold promise for future publication; see competition criteria.
  • Competition administrators will review all submissions and reserve the right to reject unsuitable submissions or recategorize submissions as appropriate. Submissions will be rejected if they do not meet the submission criteria or if they advance hateful or discriminatory positions. Students whose submissions have been recategorized will be notified prior to publication of the Amplify Competition Website. If you are uncertain about whether your submission meets the criteria or are unclear on which category to submit to, please reach out to Erin Cohn ( in advance of the deadline.

Amplify Competition Prizes

Depending on the number and quality of submissions, judges may not award all prizes for all categories.

Public Art

$500 artist honorarium
Three proposals selected, costs of project fabrication also to be covered

Public Speaking

Best TED-style Talk:
Best Spoken Word Poem:

Public Writing & Multimedia

First Place: $750
Second Place: $375

People’s Choice

$200 to an entry
from any category that receives the most website votes

Important Dates

Look out for sessions and events during these months where you can workshop your piece and get feedback.

September 18, 2023 Competition opens for Public Art proposals
November 20, 2023 Public Art proposal deadline
December 8, 2023 Public Art competition winners announced
January 5, 2024 Competition opens for Public Writing and Multimedia categories
Registration for Public Speaking category opens
January 14, 2024 Registration deadline for Public Speaking category
January 21, 2024 Public Writing and Multimedia category submission deadline
February 4, 2024, 3–5 p.m. Public Speaking category event
February 12, 2024 Amplify gallery website goes live
People's Choice Award voting opens
March 4, 2024, 6–8 p.m. Public Art Reception (6–7 p.m.)
Amplify Award Ceremony (7–8 p.m.)

Amplify Competition 2023 Judges


Audrey Paek ’92, Co-Founder, Visionary Steps Charitable Foundation and Host, From Resilience to Radiance podcast

Meredith Richter, Educational Media Producer, Smith College

Jocelyn Salcedo-Edwards, Digital Engagement Specialist, Smith College


Public Art

Phoebe Avery ’92, Public Art Manager, Public Art Reston (VA)

Corinna Davis ’23, Engineering Major, Sustainable Energy Education Intern at CEEDS

Leigh Fagin, Jean & David W. Wallace Foundation Director, Smith College Office of the Arts

Scott Richards, AVP for Facilities and Grounds, Smith College

Lynne Yamamoto, Jessie Wells Post Professor of Art, Smith College

Public Speaking

Nathalie Ais ’10, Instructional Coach, Cambridge Public Schools and Founder, ASERTIV

Minh Ly, Associate Director for Assessment, Smith College

Borjana Mikic, Rosemary Bradford Hewlett 1940 Professor of Engineering and Co-Director, Collaborative Innovation Concentration, Smith College

Public Writing

Marissa Hoechstetter, Senior Director of Alumnae and Donor Relations, Smith College

Rick Millington, Helen & Laura Shedd Professor of English Language and Literature, Smith College

Lauren Young ’12, Independent Journalist and Writer for Teen Vogue