Publicly Engaged Research in Religion Contest

New to 2024, we have an additional category for the CSSR Student Prize: Publicly Engaged Research in Religion. This category will acknowledge student research outputs that go beyond the traditional essay assignments.

As students prepare for the workforce and train to pursue careers inside and outside of the academic job market, they may seek research outputs that are more accessible or relevant to their career goals or skill sets. We want to acknowledge these valuable endeavours and support students as they integrate the same skills required of traditional assignments (critical literacy and thinking skills, knowledge translation and articulation, etc.) into these alternative mediums.

Students are required to go through all the stages of the research process to create a final product. This prize will focus on the process, organization, and development of ideas. These components that will be evaluated include:

  • Establishing a thesis
  • Developing guiding questions of inquiry
  • Gathering, organizing, and synthesizing information
  • Conducting original research and evaluating sources for reliability and validity
  • Citing sources

Subject: Any topic in the general field of religious studies
Language: English or French

Length: Variable

Deadline: August 1, 2024, at 11 pm EST

First Prize: $300


  • Undergraduate or graduate student status at a Canadian university or college for the upcoming or preceding academic year (September–August).
  • Graduate students only: Must be a member of the Canadian Society for the Study of Religion (CSSR) to submit in this category.
  • Limit one entry per student. Students cannot win two years in a row in the same category.


  • Projects do not need to be made specifically for this contest. They may be assignments from a course. Projects that have been previously published or are forthcoming publications are eligible. Group/co-authored projects will also be accepted, provided each contributor meets the eligibility requirements and completes an application form.
  • To account for medium variability, this category has no minimum length requirements for submitted projects. Students may submit up to 4000 words for written-format submissions and up to 30 minutes for audio/audio-visual formats. Students may choose a segment of a larger project they wish to have evaluated for this prize. This segment must meet the same specified length requirements.
  • In addition to the final product, students must submit a write-up (500–700 words) outlining their research process. The write-up should be typed and double-spaced (word count does not include footnotes or bibliography).
  • Submissions must meet relevant accessibility requirements (available transcripts or closed captions, alt text, etc.). Transcripts should be submitted in a Word or text format.
  • Submissions must be accompanied by a letter of support from a member of the sponsoring religious studies department or program, certifying the degree and program status of the student, and indicating that the student is in good standing in that university or college. Letters should be submitted by the referee directly.
  • Students must also attach this form (as a PDF) or this form (as a fillable Word document) with their application.
  • Graduate students only: Proof of CSSR membership (e.g., confirmation email or e-transfer receipt) must be attached or forwarded.

Entries which do not meet these criteria will not be eligible for consideration.

Options of alternative research-based projects that qualify for this prize include, but are not limited to:

  1. Policy Paper – Follow a particular [foreign, domestic, educational, social] policy situation as it develops. Write about the history of the issue, the organizations involved, the ideological conflicts, key issues, and findings or recommendations. Policy papers may also take the form of a briefing paper, providing an overview of an issue and targeted analysis with actionable recommendations.
  2. Podcast EpisodeDeliver information about a particular topic. Create a podcast episode-style recording that creatively explores the research topic and expands upon it.
  3. Blog Post – Write a (series of) blog post(s) that includes the research process and incorporates valid evidence.  Present your perspective on an idea, issue or current event using conversational, informal language.
  4. Editorial Article – Scrutinize bias and analyze evidence on a controversial issue.
  5. YouTube Video – Create a lively and informative video that dives into the research topic. The video can be animated or interview-style.
  6. Wikipedia Entry – Create/edit entries in the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia. Discuss and consider authority, bias, accuracy, etc., and participate in a larger knowledge community.
  7. Photo Essay – Create a visually appealing representation of research. A graphic essay requires the same process as a research paper, plus elements of visual components and design. Use traditional writing et pictures, graphics, videos, and/or emphasized text. The final product is a research-supported essay that is both well-developed and visually appealing.


The winner(s) will be invited to present their papers during the CSSR Webinar Series 2024-2025 (date to be confirmed). More information will be circulated to members closer to the date.


The entire project application, including all forms, letters of certification, and (if applicable) proof of CSSR membership, must be submitted by email to CSSR Member-At-Large Jacqueline Giesbrecht ( by 11 pm EST on August 1, 2024.