Students at Ventura County high schools have been given just under 3 months to solve one of the most pressing questions about a peacetime economy: How should the United States make the transition from an economic structure dependent upon defense spending?
The two students with the best answers will receive trips to the Soviet Union.
Now in its third year, the competition seeks students' opinions on geopolitical questions that they have a right and a reason to answer, said Dr. Robert F. Dodge, president of Physicians for Social Responsibility, which sponsors the contest along with Educators for Social Responsibility.
Specifically, the question posits a situation in which war is no longer a viable means of resolving conflict and governments begin to dismantle their armies and defense machines, Dodge said.
Students are to suggest ways to mitigate the impact such a change would have on the thousands of jobs tied to defense and the manufacture of weapons.
More than 500 students expressed their ideas in the competition's first two years on subjects that included how to bring about peace by the year 2000 and how to resolve international conflict in nonviolent ways.
Last year's winners, Ventura High School senior Jason Bush and Westlake Village High School senior Julie Cantor, will discuss their summer trek through the U.S.S.R. at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Poinsettia Pavilion in Ventura to kick off the latest contest.
The competition is open to all grades, although seniors are eligible only for cash awards. Four runners-up will also receive cash prizes. A panel of community members will judge the essays.