HIR Academic Writing Contest

Who We Are

The Harvard International Review is a quarterly magazine offering insight on international affairs from the perspectives of scholars, leaders, and policymakers. Since our founding in 1979, we've set out to bridge the worlds of academia and policy through outstanding writing and editorial selection.

The quality of our content is unparalleled. Each issue of the Harvard International Review includes exclusive interviews and editorials by leading international figures along with expert staff analysis of critical international issues. We have featured commentary by 43 Presidents and Prime Ministers, 4 Secretaries-General, 4 Nobel Economics Prize laureates, and 7 Nobel Peace Prize laureates.

The Contest

Inspired by our growing high school readership around the world, we have run the Harvard International Review Academic Writing Contest since 2020 to encourage and highlight outstanding high school writing on topics related to international affairs.

Contest Format

Participants in the contest submit a short-form article on a topic in international affairs. Each submission will be read and scored by the Harvard International Review.

A number of contestants will be selected as finalists, who are invited to participate in a virtual HIR Defense Day. At the Defense Day, students will have the opportunity to give a 15-minute presentation and oral defense to Harvard International Review judges.

Submission Guidelines

All submissions must adhere to the following requirements, as outlined in the Submission Guide below.

For the upcoming Spring 2024 contest, participants will have a choice of two different themes and must note which prompt they have chosen at the top of their submissions.

Theme A: Inequalities in a VUCA World

Theme B: Global Challenges and Collective Actions

Contestants may choose either topic above when writing the article.

Content: Articles should address a topic related to international affairs today. Potential categories include (but are not limited to): Agriculture, Business, Cybersecurity, Defense, Education, Employment & Immigration, Energy & Environment, Finance & Economy, Public Health, Science & Technology, Space, Trade, and Transportation. Articles should examine the theme from a global perspective rather than focusing on the United States.

Length: Articles should be at least 800 words but not exceed 1,200 words (not counting diagrams, tables of data, or authorship declaration).

Writing Style: Submissions should present an analytically backed perspective on an under-appreciated global topic.  

AI Policy: The usage of ChatGPT is prohibited. Judges will be running all articles through multiple AI checkers, and articles that receive high AI generation scores across multiple checkers will be disqualified.

Excellent contest submissions will aim to present a topic holistically from a balanced perspective. Evidence and nuance are critical. Submissions should be well-researched, well-informed, and formal in style and prose.

The HIR does not accept op-eds, otherwise known as editorials or opinion pieces for its competition. Articles are expected to have a thesis but should not have an agenda. Submissions should also not be merely a collection of facts.

As a journalist organization, we ask that submissions follow AP Style's newest edition. We also ask that submissions are culturally sensitive, fact-checked, and respectful.

Examples of pieces that would be considered excellent submissions are below.

The Trade War That No-One Is Talking About
Amid the noise of the United States’ engagement with China, Japan and SouthKorea have recently engaged[https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/12/business/south-korea-japan-trade-war/index.html] in their own trade war. On July 4 of this year, while Americans were celebratingtheir own independence and freedo…
Force-Feeding and Drug Abuse: The Steep Price of Beauty in Mauritania
“Mauritania’s beauty standards—manifesting in the force-feeding of young girls, child marriage, and the abuse of weight gain medications—are centuries-old. However, they are not immune to change.”
Africa’s Growing Scientific Communities: A New Renaissance
Technological change has always been one of the largest dividers betweendeveloped and developing countries. The scientific heavy-hitters havetraditionally included the most economically powerful nations. According to theWorld Bank, every year, the United States, Germany, and Japan all spend upwar…

Citation and Sources: All factual claims must be backed by a citation from a reliable source. All ideas that are not your own must be properly attributed. Citations should be made via hyperlinks. Non-digital sources are welcome but must be cited properly as per AP Style. See the examples above for examples of using hyperlinks for citations.

Contest Dates

There are three distinct submission cycles for the 2024 Contest.

Please note that contestants are requested to register and pay before becoming eligible to submit their articles prior to the submission deadline.  

Admissions are done on a rolling basis! Capacity is limited.

Spring 2024

Article Submission Deadline: May 31, 2024

HIR Defense Day: June 29, 2024

Summer 2024

Article Submission Deadline: August 31, 2024

HIR Defense Day: October 5, 2024

Fall 2024 / Winter 2024

Article Submission Deadline: January 2, 2025

HIR Defense Day: February 5, 2025

Contest Prizes

All submissions will receive a score from the Harvard International Review based on the Evaluation Rubric described in the Submission Guide. Contestants that receive a passing score without qualifying for a HIR Defense Day will receive individual prizes. Finalists will be eligible for the following Gold/Silver/Bronze medals based on their scores and performance in the HIR Defense Day.

Commendation Prize: HIR Certificate

Outstanding Writing Content / Style Prize: HIR Certificate

High Commendation Prize: HIR Certificate

Bronze Medal: HIR Certificate and name listed on website (global top 20 percent)

Silver Medal: HIR Certificate and name listed on website (global top 10 percent)

Gold Medal: HIR Certificate and name listed on website (global top three percent)

All scoring and prize decisions are final. The contest will not be able to provide additional detail beyond the scores provided by HIR graders. All contestants who manage to submit their articles will receive a certificate of completion.

Contest Eligibility:

United States

Students are eligible if they are in grades nine through twelve in any of the fifty states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. territories, or if they are U.S. citizens/lawful permanent residents attending high school overseas.


Students in countries outside of the United States (grades 9-12) are also welcome to submit. Submissions are expected to be written in English and with traditional American spelling. For more information on submissions in your country, please contact contest@hir.harvard.edu