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The Society for the History of Discoveries Student Prize

The Society for the History of Discoveries announces its 2017 Student Prize for best student research paper in the history of geographic discoveries. Founded in 1960, the purpose of the Society is to stimulate teaching, research, and publishing in the history of geographical exploration. We now call for research papers on voyages, travels, biography, history, cartography, the technologies of travel, the impact of travel and cross-cultural contact, and other aspects of geographic discovery. The primary purpose is to enlighten the reader about some aspect of the exploration of our physical world.

Felipe Fernandes Cruz, a Ph.D. candidate in History at the University of Texas-Austin, is the winner of the 2015 SHD student prize for his paper: "Napalm Colonization: Indigenous Peoples and Exploration in Brazil's Aeronautical Frontiers." A native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, Felipe has been a resident of the US for 15 years. His dissertation, titled “Flight of the Steel Toucans: Aviation and the Settlement of Brazil’s Frontiers,” from which his SHD paper was drawn, explores the use of aviation and cartography in the exploration and colonization of Brazil’s vast and inaccessible frontiers.The committee also chose an honorable mention: Jessica Taylor, a Ph.D. candidate in History at the University of Florida at Gainesville. Her paper was titled "'Certaine Boundes': Indian Landscape and Discovery in the Seventeenth Century."Congratulations to the winner and honorable mention and thanks to all the students who entered the contest.

Who is Eligible:  Students from any part of the globe currently enrolled in a college or university degree program and who will not have received a doctoral degree prior to 15 May 2017. Note:  Graduating high school or college students accepted into a program but who do not begin classes until fall are NOT eligible.

The Research Paper:  An eligible research paper shall be original and unpublished, written in English, between 3,000 and 8,000 words, including footnotes or endnotes.  Papers written for college or university class assignments are encouraged.  A reasonable amount of illustrative and tabular material will be welcome, but is not required. 
      Paper formatting:  The paper should be typed using a standard serif font (Times, Palatino, Century) and double-spaced.  All pages should be numbered in the upper right hand corner.  All papers should include either endnotes or footnotes.  Papers should not have parenthetical references, that is, citation information in parentheses in the body of the paper.  Do not include your name anywhere but on the cover sheet.
      Cover Sheet:  All papers must have a cover sheet that includes the following information:  full name, postal address, e-mail address, phone number, the name of the college or university you attend, your academic department, and your current student status – for example:  2nd year undergraduate; 1st year MA; PhD candidate; ABD.

SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS: Essays must be postmarked on or before May 15, 2017.

Submission Deadline:  15 May 2017
Electronic submissions only to:
Dr. Marguerite Ragnow, committee chair: 
Subject line:  SHD Student Prize

Questions?  Contact Dr. Ragnow at or 612-624-6895 (US phone #)

Evaluation Criteria:

All papers will be evaluated by a panel of judges from the Society for the History of Discoveries. The panel’s decision will be final and will be announced on the SHD website after June 15, 2017.  The committee reserves the right to award no prize based on the quality of the submissions, and in the event of a tie, the committee may decide to award two prizes.

Specific criteria:
•    Originality
•    Contribution to new knowledge or insights
•    Relevance to the subject
•    Cogency of the argument and appropriateness of the documentation
•    Quality of writing (including grammar and spelling, as well as style)

    Note:  Submissions will be disqualified if a) the author is not eligible per the criteria noted above; b) the paper is not relevant to the history of discoveries as outlined above or to the general history of geographic exploration; c) the ideas and quotations in the paper that are not the authors’ are not adequately cited (footnotes/endnotes). Due to the number of submissions, we will not make notifications of disqualifications without enquiry.

The awardee will receive a prize of $600.00 (US) and will be invited to make an oral presentation about the paper at the annual meeting of the Society for the History of Discoveries.  The 2017 conference will be held in Milwaukee, WI from September 21-24.  Information about participation in the conference will be provided to the awardee upon notification of the award.  Acceptance of the prize is not contingent upon your ability to attend the conference.  Additionally, the awardee will be invited to submit the winning paper to the society’s peer-reviewed journal, Terrae Incognitae, for which it will undergo the usual review process prior to formal acceptance for publication.

Recent Prize Awardees & Their Papers:

2015  Felipe Fernandes Cruz."Napalm Colonization: Indigenous Peoples and Exploration in Brazil's Aeronautical Frontiers."
2014  Josephine Benson (Brown University), “New Worlds, New Germs: The Role of European Expansion in the Development of Germ Theory.” Published in Terrae Incognitae 47.1 (2015).
2013  Joshua Michael Marcotte (University of Minnesota), “Culture, Contact and the Agency of Appropriation in a 1741 Map of Nagasaki.” Published in Terrae Incognitae46.1 (2014).
2012  Justin T. Dellinger (University of Texas, Arlington), “La Balise: A Transimperial Focal Point.”

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