Office of Student Success

CPP Common Read Essay Contest

Essay Prompts

Choose one of the following options to respond to. Be sure to support your reasoning with examples from the book, and your own experiences. Be sure to refer to the three types of empathy--cognitive empathy, emotional empathy, and empathetic concern--in your response.

Option 1: The Kindness Challenge

On his website, The War for Kindness, Jamil Zaki invites reader to engage in their own “kindness challenges” based on a few of the studies he referenced in the book. Zaki explains that “empathy is less like a fixed trait, and more like a skill, which we can work on and build—the same way you’d strengthen a muscle. To put the book’s principles into practice, I’ve developed a series of kindness challenges like exercises at an “empathy gym” that you can use to push yourself and connect better.” The challenges are listed here.
Select and complete one of the challenges Zaki outlines, and then reflect on your experience. Why did you select the challenge you did? What were your expectations going into the challenge? What was your experience like? Did you feel any personal growth? Did you experience empathy fatigue? Did your experience reflect those described in Zaki’s book, or did you have different results?

Option 2: Empathy Gym

Visit the Kellogg Gallery on campus or access the ArtStor data base through the University Library. Choose one of the pieces of art to reflect on. Learn about the artist e.g., their background, the specific circumstances surrounding the work and its creation, any other relevant information/ material that influenced the work. Place yourself in the artist’s life and experiences. Reflect on how their experiences impacted the creation of the art. Does putting yourself in the artist’s frame make a difference on how you see the art? If you were creating a piece of art, what would be important to include/understand about you in the work you created?

Submission Guidelines

  • Open to all Cal Poly Pomona students
  • 3 pages max
  • Ariel or Helvetica, 12-point font, Double Spaced
  • Include in your essay: Name, Bronco ID and CPP Email 
  • Save your file as:  First_Last_Title_Fall 2021

Deadline: Friday, November 5, 2021 

Winners will be announced at the FYE Showcase. Date of FYE Showcase is TBA. 4 winners will receive a $150 Book Award to the Bronco Bookstore.