Have a general topic for an essay. Let anyone write anything that is relevant to that topic. Collect, organize the papers into groups (if they can be) and have the students teach their version of the topic. This may only work within more open-ended topics like philosophy.
For instance: teaching about reality of time. Rather than all read one text and respond, let some do the history. What are the first arguments for it? Let some do the physics, what does modern special and general relativity have to say about it? Let some do cultures. We have 24 hours, do other civilizations differ?
The point is not to assign the specific, but let them pick. I have a few classes like this. But it shouldn’t stop there. Let the students share what they’ve learned. Even if it’s 5 or 10 minutes per group. I think that allows for a greater potential of sparking interest and spontaneous learning.