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Friday, October 27, 2000
Houston, Texas
Volume 66, Issue 49 

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UH student wins essay competition

Douglass takes first place in a worldwide contest focusing on the world 50 years from now

Cougar News Services

More than 3,000 students from universities around the world submitted entries to "The World in 2050" essay competition, in which a UH student brought home top honors.

Russian Studies student William Douglass beat out competitors from 75 countries who submitted essays into the contest. The objective was for students to submit essays describing what they think the world would be like in 2050.

Douglass' essay, "Dear Nestor," was written as a letter from a young Bangladeshi boy to a friend in the United States. It described a world governed by a network in which oil rigs are obsolete and special genes and limited-duration marriages are the norm.

In Douglass' world, two classifications of people exist, carbon and silicone. Parents can hand-pick genes for their children, and families take simulated vacations over the network.

The aim of the competition was to encourage debate and thought about the social, political, environmental, technological and economic issues that countries, companies and individuals will face in the middle of the 21st century.

The competition was launched in April 2000 and sponsored by Shell Oil and The Economist magazine. Entries were judged by a panel of experts from a variety of fields.

Judges said they chose Douglass' entry because of the connection it made between advances in technology and the unchanging importance of human relationships.

"We liked this essay not only because it was compellingly written in an accessible form, but also because it artfully included ideas both about how life and people might change, and about things which might endure," said Bill Emmott, the editor of The Economist and a member of the judging panel.

Douglass will receive a $20,000 prize, and his essay will appear in The Economist's publication "The World in 2001," which will be on newstands in November.

Two second prizes of $10,000 each and five $5,000 third prizes were awarded to other winners from California, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Two second prizes of $10,000 are awarded and five third prizes of $5,000 were extended.
 

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