Peace-Building Essay Contest

Since 2015 the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) has partnered with the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) on its annual National High School Essay Contest. The contest engages high school students in learning and writing about issues of peace and conflict, and encourages appreciation for diplomacy’s role in building partnerships that can advance peacebuilding and protect national security.

In a 1,000- to 1,250-word essay, students identify two cases—one they deem successful and one they deem unsuccessful—where the US pursued an integrated approach to build peace in a conflict-affected country. They should analyze and compare these two cases, addressing the following questions: (a) What relative strengths did members of the Foreign Service and military actors bring to the table? What peace-building tools were employed? Ultimately, what worked or did not work in each case? (b) How was each situation relevant to US national security interests? (c) What lessons may be drawn from these experiences for the pursuit of US foreign policy more broadly?

The winner of the contest will receive a $2,500 cash prize, an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC, to meet leadership at the US Department of State and USIP, and a full-tuition-paid voyage with Semester at Sea, a multi-country study abroad program, upon enrollment at an accredited university. The runner-up will receive a $1,250 cash prize and a full scholarship to participate in the International Diplomacy Program of the National Student Leadership Conference. A freely downloadable Study Guide includes the essay questions, prizes, and rules for the contest; an introduction to foreign policy tools; key terms used in the field; examples of coordination in practice; and a list of other useful resources.

Deadline: March 15, 2019, for submission of essays