Lend your voice to USAID-Devex essay contest

The Devex community has the exciting opportunity to have its say among the most prominent international development leaders of our time.

In partnership with Devex, the U.S. Agency for International Development is holding an essay contest to find five of the most interesting, innovative and insightful opinions and ideas for inclusion in an essay collection along with essays by leading global development thinkers to be released in May 2012.

Five essays will be selected for inclusion in USAID’s May 2012 “Frontiers in Development” publication. The best of the remaining submissions will be posted on USAID’s website.

Five essay themes

Winning essays will address an issue directly relevant to one of these topic areas:

Democracy and development in the 21st century

How has the relationship between democracy and development changed since the end of the Cold War? How is this relationship likely to evolve in the coming decade? Might new forms of democracy emerge? How is the Arab Spring likely to affect development in the coming decade? Is democracy something to be highly valued, but with little impact on development, or is it central to sustaining development? How do changes in development affect democracy? What can outside actors do to support democratic change over time? Are democracies which are contested on the basis of region or ethnicity less effective than democracies contested on the basis of economic interests?

Pressure on the planet: climate change, resource demand and demography

How do growing pressures from climate change, resource demand and demography affect development in the poorest countries? What are the implications for food security, poverty reduction, and strategies for economic growth in the poorest countries? How will climate change and demographic change shape the world economy and low-income economies in 2025 (or 2050)? How will greater demand for energy and other resources in emerging economies affect income growth, food production, and poverty in low-income countries? How should countries begin to prepare now for these changes?

Strengthening security to accelerate development, accelerating development to strengthen security

How can and why should security and development strategies be better aligned? Does more democracy mean less violence? How might the growing youth bulge in many developing countries affect security? What are the key elements of success in promoting development in conflict environments? What should we have learned from both dimensions of security in Vietnam, the Balkans and Iraq that are important in Afghanistan? What are the linkages between bad governance – especially corruption – and increased violent conflict? How can technology help improve security, especially in terms of access to information and fighting illicit financial transactions?

Competing in global markets in 2025: trade, jobs, growth, and the role of the state

How will global supply and production chains operate in 2025? How will information flows and new technologies expand opportunities for poor countries, especially for low-skilled workers? What must countries do to compete? Will rising wages and incomes in Asia eventually price some producers out of light manufacturing and open opportunities for firms in other developing countries? What will commodities scarcities mean for growth in emerging markets? What are the key trade issues that will promote development in poor countries? Can small African countries compete in manufacturing and services in the global economy of 2025? What must countries begin to do now to prepare for the global marketplace of 2025?

Making markets and technology work for service delivery

How can we most effectively deliver basic health, education, water and safety net services in the future? Do we need new models for service delivery? What role can new technologies play? Can the power of private investment and markets be harnessed to improve delivery of basic services? What role can new foundations, philanthropists and other actors play in these areas?

Suggested essay angles

We are especially interested in emphasizing food security and health, and how they interact with the above issues. In addition, across these issues, we are interested in the relevance of science, technology and social media; the impact of development on gender, marginalized groups, and larger questions of poverty and equity; and the impact of new development partners such as foundations, philanthropists and private business.

Winning essays will address an issue or idea directly relevant to one of the major topic areas listed above, and will present an original, innovative or underappreciated insight to help shape how some aspect of development practice is undertaken in the foreseeable future. Essays should be forward-looking, thought-provoking and concise. They should focus on where the world is going and how developing countries and their partners can best prepare for future changes.

We are particularly interested in essays that engage in broader debates on future-oriented key challenges to development, rather than essays that focus on analysis of U.S. foreign policy or foreign assistance.

Submission parameters

  • Essays must be in English and should not exceed 1,500 words, excluding citations.

  • Sources should be cited where necessary using the Chicago Manual of Style; however, writers are encouraged to keep citations to a minimum (if used at all), as they are not consistent with the preferred narrative style for these essays.

  • Essays must use 1-inch margins and 12 point Times New Roman font.

  • Essays must be sent via email as an attached Word document to essaycontest@devex.com starting Dec. 15; deadline is Jan. 8, 2012, at 11:59pm Eastern Standard Time, early submission is encouraged.

  • Essays may include up to one page of tables, graphs and photos, where appropriate.

  • When submitting, authors should list the relevant topic area in the text of their email, as well as their name and affiliation.

Submission guidelines and terms

  • Both single-author and co-authored papers are welcome. Participants are welcome to submit more than one essay for consideration.

  • USAID employees are not eligible to submit an essay for this contest; USAID employees interested in submitting an essay are encouraged to participate in USAID’s concurrent, internal essay contest.

  • Essays must be written at a level accessible to development professionals in all sectors, not just to specialists.

  • Each submission must be clearly relevant to one of the five topic areas outlined above; we are particularly interested in essays that engage in broader debates on future-oriented key challenges to development, rather than essays that focus on analysis of U.S. foreign policy or foreign assistance.

  • USAID may reject, disqualify or disallow any submission it deems inappropriate, contrary to U.S. national interests, in violation of contest rules, or for any other reason in its sole and absolute discretion.

  • Submission of an essay constitutes the participant’s certification that the essay is the participant’s own original work and does not infringe the intellectual property or proprietary rights of any third party.

  • Per 22 CFR Part 226, USAID shall have a royalty-free, non-exclusive and irrevocable right to reproduce, publish or otherwise use selected essays for federal purposes, and to authorize others to do so.

  • Nothing herein will constitute an employment, joint venture or partnership relationship between USAID and the participant; participants incur in full any costs associated with participation in the contest, and USAID is not responsible for any claims, damages, liabilities, expenses or losses which arise from participation in this contest.

  • Essays will not be acknowledged or returned; USAID is not responsible for late, lost, incomplete or misdirected essays.

  • In the event of a dispute about who submitted an essay, the essay will be deemed submitted by the registered account holder.

Selection process

A panel of three anonymous reviewers will read all papers within each of the five conference topic areas. The panel’s recommendations will be considered by a USAID editorial board. USAID will notify winners by email once judging is complete.

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