Calling All Rule-Breakers: This Contest Pays $250K for Being Disobedient

MIT Media Lab

I’m not a rule-breaker.

I’ll never forget the time my middle school teacher sent me to the principal’s office for passing a note during class. I cried.

But MIT Media wants to reward you for breaking the rules… sort of.

Nominations for the MIT Media Lab Disobedience Award are now open. The person or group who “engaged in what we believe is an extraordinary example of disobedience for the benefit of society” will win $250,000.

Here’s How You Can Win $250,000 for Breaking the Rules

“You don’t change the world by doing what you’re told,” says Joi Ito, director of MIT Media Lab.

These words are driving this contest.

Just like me, many others strive to do what’s right and to fit into a bubble of rules. But sometimes that suffocates creativity, flexibility, and ultimately, change.

“With this award, we honor work that impacts society in positive ways, and is consistent with a set of key principles,” the contest’s website states. “These principles include non-violence, creativity, courage, and taking responsibility for one’s actions.”

The whole idea is to celebrate and support the “disobedience-robust work” that’s taking place across the world.

So no, you won’t win by passing notes while the teacher’s lecturing. But if you want some ideas, here’s a timeline of those from history who have broken the rules — for the better.

How to Nominate Your Favorite Rule-Breaker

The contest opened March 6 and will remain open until May 1, 2017.

Here are the eligibility requirements:

  • The recipient has to be alive.
  • The recipient can be an individual or a group.
  • The recipient needs to have taken a risk to bring about positive change for a better society.

Fill out the online application. You’ll be asked a number of questions; however, they’re all straightforward.

The MIT Media Lab plans to announce the winners July 21, 2017.

Your Turn: Do you know someone who’s breaking the rules for positive change? Nominate them!

Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

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