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HomeContestBuilding a Better US Foreign Policy Annual Student Competition 2024

Building a Better US Foreign Policy Annual Student Competition 2024

Application Deadline: April 30, 2024.

The Reimagining US Grand Strategy Program strengthens US foreign policy by testing assumptions, reassessing conventional wisdom, and exploring innovative approaches to international engagement.

As part of its mission, the Strategy Program provides a platform for future national security professionals to express their thoughts. Its Annual Student Competition invites undergraduates to share creative ideas for improving U.S. foreign policy, drawing new and innovative talent into the policy space, and providing avenues for young thinkers to engage with leading foreign policy institutions.

Eligibility Criteria

Only submissions adhering to the following criteria will be considered for the competition:

  • Students must be enrolled in a U.S. university or college as an undergraduate student at the time of the submission of their entry. Only applicants with U.S. residency will be eligible for the cash prizes, but all applicants (regardless of residency) will be eligible for publication and invitation to the exclusive virtual event. Only one entry per student is allowed.
  • Should the number of submissions exceed our reviewing capacity, the Reimagining US Grand Strategy Program will select completed essays for review on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • The Stimson Center has a strict no-plagiarism policy. Essays submitted to the competition will be reviewed accordingly. Students are allowed, however, to repurpose their prior written work for the competition—so long as it has not been published elsewhere.


The competition is a short essay contest to encourage students to develop their analytical and writing skills to effectively communicate ideas to policymakers. Students are expected to showcase unconventional ideas and are invited to propose new modes of global engagement for the United States.

The competition’s timeline is as follows:

  • Late 2023: Informational period
  • January 1 – April 30: Submissions period is open
  • May 1 – 31: The Strategy Program evaluates the entries and selects winners and runners up
  • The winner and two runners-up will be announced no later than June 1 on the Stimson Center’s webpage.

Essays should be submitted as either a Word document or PDF–with hyperlinks included to cite outside sources.


Awards include:

  • Cash prizes: The first-place winner will receive $1,000, the first runner-up $500, and the second runner-up $250.
  • Publication in an online outlet: Following a period of review and editing in collaboration with the writer, the winning essay will be published by Inkstick Media. Additional essays may also be considered for publication, subject to the discretion of the reviewers.
  • Invitation to exclusive event: A selection of up to 20 students with exemplary essays will receive an invitation to participate in a virtual whiteboarding event with the Reimagining U.S. Grand Strategy team. Participants will have the opportunity to connect with our team members, meet other high-achieving students, and get a peek inside the work being done at a leading international relations think tank.

More Info: Building a Better US Foreign Policy Annual Student Competition



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