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Design competition cancelled due to the COVID-19

 disruptions at universities across the US.

We are evaluating whether to run the competition next year. Please email us at to let us know if you were planning on entering the competition. 

Campus Counterspaces Critical Design Competition, 2020

Undergraduate students from any U.S. college or university are invited to participate in a Critical Design

Competition to pay homage to the voices of those who have been marginalized throughout history.

This competition follows up on the author’s blog post titled How Historically Marginalized Students’ Desire for Radical Growth Conflicts with Diversity Initiatives Built Around Tolerance.


Student criticism about university statues, monuments, and named buildings that pay reverence to those who gained power through colonialism and slavery is not new. What is new is students’ urgency for action. Students from historically marginalized groups and their allies are now openly stating what they have been mumbling for generations; that they don’t buy the argument that the statues are apolitical remembrances of times gone by with no bearing on the present. No statue, monument, or named building is simply a “record of its time,” each is part of the ever-changing conversation about present day values.  Read more of the blog post >>> 


This blog post has been turned into the Campus Counterspaces Critical Design Competition, which aims to provide students from historically marginalized groups and their allies with an opportunity to critically imagine and re-imagine public monuments. Students are to think critically and creatively about how to pay homage to previously silenced voices. Create an artistic rendering of a design plan for a piece of public art and 500-word writing submission that together give voice to the stories of those who were silenced by the fact that history is often written to serve those in power. 


Student teams are invited to submit a maximum 500-word piece of writing (essay, poem, freeform) and at least one picture of an artistic rendering of the design plan for a piece of public art. 


Two-step submission process: 

Step 1: Student(s) submit entries on the Submission Page.

Step 2: Student(s) submit the image of the artistic rendering on Instagram accompanied with a text post of an excerpt from the writing submission and tag the CampusCounterspaces Instagram page for public voting.


Two-step selection process: 

Step 1: Public voting will occur on Instagram to identify the top 25 entries with the most votes.

Step 2: Two winning entries will be selected. The top 25 entries based on public voting will be closely reviewed by the selection committee to determine the two winning entries.


Two winning entries will be selected and will receive funding to create a public display of some aspect of their public art design plan to stimulate discussion on their campus.


The criteria for selection of winning entries will be both creativity and clarity of design and writing submission.

  • The first-place entry will receive $1,250 to create their public display

  • The second-place entry will receive $750 to create their public display

NOTE: To receive the prize award, winning entries must submit a letter from a sponsoring faculty member or administrator who agrees to support them in the development of their public art display on campus. 


The top 25 entries will be invited to revise their contest entry based on editorial feedback and submit it for inclusion in an edited manuscript. 


For any questions and clarifications please contact




The competition is open to all undergraduate students attending a Bachelor’s degree granting university in the United States and territories. 


The competition is not limited to students attending historically White universities. It is incorrect to assume that historically Black and Latinx serving institutions don’t need to pay attention to whether their statues, monuments, and named buildings pay reverence to those who gained power through colonialism and slavery.


To be eligible for the Competition, submissions must be received by March 15, 2020. 


Submissions must include a visual rendering of the proposed design and a companion writing submission that is a maximum of 500 words. 




National Archive of Native Heritage

National Archive of African American Heritage

National Archive of Hispanic/Latino Heritage


Check your library’s local historical archives




Competition Announced: January 15th 

Submission Opens: February 16th @ 8:00 AM, CT

Submission Closes: March 15th @ 12:00 AM, CT

Instagram Voting Period: February 16th through March 29th

Top 25 Submissions Based on Instagram Voting Announced: April 1st

The Two Winning Entries Selected by Judges: Announced on April 17th





The three judges are among the co-authors who contributed to the book


Carly Bertrand: Assistant Professor, California State University San Marcos

Elan Hope: Assistant Professor, North Carolina State University  

Gabriel Velez: Assistant Professor, Marquette University


(1) Participation in the Critical Design contest requires that the participant agree to the official rules and agree that the contest creators and affiliates will not be held liable whatsoever for any damages, injuries, or losses of any kind from participating in the contest or from their use of the prize. (2) Any prize awarded from the contest is nontransferable and is not eligible for any exchange for cash or substitution. (3) Participant information such as name may be used, without further compensation, for publicity purposes. No form of contact information such as address, email, or phone number will be used without permission from the entrant unless otherwise aforementioned. (4) Any expenses or taxes that are incurred as a result of winning the prize are the responsibility of solely the winner.

(5) Restrictions may apply; additional restrictions within the good judgment of the contest staff and affiliates may also apply. (6) One entry is allowed per entrant/team. Additional applications without prior inquiry to contest staff may disqualify the applicant. (7) Participants must be willing to sign grant, publicity, and general liability releases to be considered for entry. All images are under consideration for use in book manuscripts. (8) Instagram, Inc. is in no way directly sponsoring or endorsing the administered contest. Information is to be directed to the contest staff and not to Instagram, Inc. directly.


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