Ashland Center for Nonviolence

Satyagraha: ACN & WCC Written and Digital Composition Contest

Theme: Satyagraha: Nonviolence in the Gandhi–King Tradition 

Sponsored by the ACN and WCC

Cash prizes and more!


The Ashland Center for Nonviolence (ACN) and the Writing and Communication Center (WCC) are pleased to announce a written and digital composition contest to coincide with MLK Day and the 7th Annual John D. Stratton Conference held at Ashland University, the theme of which is Satyagraha: Nonviolence in the Gandhi–King Tradition. We are inviting Ashland University undergraduate students to submit written compositions or digital compositions that demonstrate satyagraha in action.


For questions about the theme of the contest and conference, please contact the ACN at

For questions about and help with how to put together a written or digital composition for submission, please contact the WCC at

  • First Prize: Winning written and digital compositions will be awarded $200 each, and winners will also be invited to share their works during the 7th Annual John D. Stratton Conference (Feb. 25–26, 2022) with free attendance to the conference.  Additionally, their works will be featured in the Peace Chronicle, a magazine published by the Peace & Justice Studies Association. 

  • Honorable Mentions: Multiple runners-up in the submissions for each category will be awarded $25, an ACN t-shirt, and printed honorable mentions in the Peace Chronicle and the John D. Stratton Conference program.  

Interested Ashland University undergraduate  students are encouraged to get feedback from the Writing and Communication Center (WCC) coaches to help polish their compositions before submission. In-person and online appointments can be made by signing up here.

Contest Entry Details & Guidelines

Who: Open to all undergraduate students currently enrolled at Ashland University. Non-students, graduate students, and students at other schools are not eligible.

What: We are inviting submssions for both written and digital compositions. Descriptions are provided below, and links to the rubrics can be found here: (1) Written Composition Rubric and (2) Digital Composition Rubric

  • Written compositions must be between 750–1500 words  and will be evaluated in terms of the written composition’s Content (does it relate to satyagraha/nonviolence in action?), Complexity (does it show a sophisticated level of understanding of the nuances of the subject matter?), Language (is it well written with minimal errors?), and Organization & Coherence (does the content flow in a logical and easy-to-understand manner?).
  • Digital compositions must be between 3–6 minutes long and will be evaluated in terms of  Content (does it relate to satyagraha/nonviolence in action?), Complexity (does it show a sophisticated level of understanding of the nuances of the subject matter?), Creativity (does it express ideas in an novel or interesting way?), and Use of Media and Technology (are digital media technologies used in a way that makes sense and have minimal flaws). Digital compositions may include, but are not limited to, the following types of compositions:
    • Video:
      • Documentary-style works that highlight real people who are practicing satyagraha/nonviolence in action and real places where such nonviolent activism is occurring.
      • Animations illustrating themes of satyagraha/nonviolence in action.
      • Live-action films that tell stories about or dramatize satyagraha/nonviolence in action. 
      • And more!
    • Audio:
      • Podcasts covering a topic related to satyagraha/nonviolence in action in an interview/talk radio format. 
      • Songs expressing feelings and ideas that might inspire nonviolent activism.
      • Spoken-word poetry recordings that explore themes of satyagraha/nonviolence in action.
      • And more!

Topics must be focused on the ways nonviolence can be put into action and bring about change in the world, as Mahatma Gandhi’s and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s philosophies and social movements demonstrate. We are especially interested in how nonviolence can be practiced in specific ways in different situations in order to bring about changes both small and large, on scales both local and global. 


  • Submissions are due on MLK Day, January 17, 2022 by 11:59pm. 
  • Contest winners and honorable mentions will be announced after two weeks of submission. 
  • Winners will be invited to share their works during the 7th Annual John D. Stratton Conference at Ashland University on February 25–26, 2022 and will be able to attend the conference for free (registration fees will be waived). 

How: Ashland University undergraduate students can submit their written and digital compositions using the form linked here, which must be completed with the file attached in order for the submission to be considered.


About the Ashland Center for Nonviolence

The seed for the Ashland Center for Nonviolence (ACN) was planted in December 2002 when Dr. John Stratton, an English professor at Ashland University, said, “I am going to stand out on the intersection of Claremont and King Road one hour each week with a sign that says it is wrong for the United States to invade Iraq. If anyone else wants to stand with me, they can join me.” Always standing with fellow concerned Ashlanders, John stood with as many as 25 others, each holding their own homemade signs. When the invasion occurred about 5 months later, the weekly vigil keepers put down their signs and went inside. They found their shared passion for speaking out against militarism as a solution to international problems, and they wanted to continue to have a voice for peace. Thus sprouted the Ashland Center for Nonviolence. And thanks to the resources provided by then-Provost Robert Suggs, the loosely organized and penniless group was able to bring in speakers such as Arun Gandhi (activist and grandson of Mahatma Gandhi), Yolanda King (activist and daughter of MLK), and Elie Weisel (author, activist, and Holocaust survivor).

About the John D. Stratton Conference

Under the leadership of Dr. Craig Hovey, the ACN established an annual scholarly conference named after its founder, John D. Stratton, that explores a theme of nonviolence each year. During the conference, professors and students present their research projects and engage in lively discussion with the audience on topics that revolve around nonviolence. This year’s conference explores various topics on the theme of Satyagraha: Nonviolence in the Gandhi-King Tradition. The underlying philosophy of this conference is that peace-making is varied, good work that is accessible to everyone, and so the goal of the conference is to create a venue to showcase such works. 

About Satyagraha and the Gandhi–King Tradition

Satyagraha is a word coined by Gandhi that is rooted in the Sanskrit language which roughly translates to “holding firmly to truth” or “truth force.” For Gandhi, and later on for MLK, this principle of a nonviolent truth force provided the foundation for their respective social movements to bring about justice in the unjust situations they found themselves in. For Gandhi, this movement was Indian Independence from Britain during the 1940s, while for MLK, this movement was the Civil Rights Movement in the United States during the 1960s. Read more about the philosophy of satyagraha here

About the Writing & Communication Center

The Writing and Communication Center (WCC), located in Bixler 104, provides writing and communication coaching to undergraduate and graduate students at Ashland University. Over the years, the WCC has gone by different names, such as the Writing Lab, the Writing Center, the Ashland Multiliteracy (AMuLit) Center, and now the WCC. Throughout these name changes, the WCC has consistently dedicated itself to helping Ashland University students improve their written communication skills. Most recently, the WCC has worked towards expanding its services to include help not only with writing, but also with project presentations, speeches, group projects and presentations, poster presentations, and other digital communication assignments.

Introducing the Ashland Center for Nonviolence

Can you imagine a world without violence? When it comes to conflict, do you ever wonder, “what else can I do?” Ashland’s Center for Nonviolence takes a proactive role in facilitating change—and you can be a part of that change.

We believe that there is more to peace than opposing violence. We are dedicated to raising awareness, thinking and acting creatively, and encouraging open discussion on issues of peace and social well-being.

Our Mission

The Ashland Center for Nonviolence at Ashland University promotes alternatives to violence through programs, education, training, and building relationships that foster awareness and consideration of issues related to nonviolence and social justice, and supports ways to create a caring community that is inclusive and just.

Our Vision

We seek a world in which human conflict at all levels can be resolved without resorting to violence and in which social justice can be realized.

Our Commitment

We have a steadfast commitment to:

  • Building the next generation of peacemakers. We influence Ashland University students with a message of nonviolence, training some of them to be student mediators and providing invaluable leadership skills.

  • Educating for nonviolence. We strive to cover local, national, and international issues and provide programming that focuses on the critical analysis of all forms of violence in order to explore and promote nonviolence alternatives.

  • Seeking the peace of our communicates. We offer experiential training to develop the capacity for conflict resolution in local settings.

  • Reaching out broadly. In a politically polarized society, we strive to speak up and be relevant to a broad spectrum of topics. We also reach citizens from many different backgrounds and persuasions to ensure equal representation.

  • Being a clearinghouse. We act as a central point for collecting and disseminating information about events and other opportunities relating to nonviolence and issues of social concern.

Contact Us

Emily Huestis
Emily Huestis

Executive Director
Elizabeth Buttil
Elizabeth Buttil

Assistant Director

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