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Global Sustainable Development Competition

Please note: Entry to the GSD Competition 2021 has now closed.

Each year, the Global Sustainable Development (GSD) Department at the University of Warwick runs a competition for year 11 and 12 students (school pupils aged between 15 and 17 years).

We established the competition to engage with talented school students and give insight into the type of thought-provoking issues involved in studying GSD at Warwick.

The United Nations defines Global Sustainable Development (GSD) as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”*.

The world’s population is predicted to grow from six to almost ten billion between the years 2000 and 2050, with the next few decades predicted to witness significant transformations in economic growth, international relations, human development, biodiversity, human health, and social justice.

Our growing number of degrees equip our students with the expertise, skills, and knowledge that enable them to contribute meaningfully to the debates about these big problems, so that they can make a real difference to the world. At undergraduate level, we offer a single honours degree and a number of joint honours degrees. We have also launched new postgraduate programmes in GSD.

To find out more about GSD at Warwick, please see here.

* United Nations Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future, 1987

Our competition provides year 11 and 12 students (school pupils aged between 15 and 17 years) with the opportunity to think creatively and gain valuable research skills as they learn more about global sustainable development. Since it was established, we have expanded the types of entries that can be submitted to include videos, podcasts and poetry, as well as more traditional essay responses. This is in line with our aim to engage with students from a variety of different backgrounds and interests, giving them the chance to present their unique perspectives on issues of global sustainable development. This also aligns with our pedagogical approach, as we are aware that, for some of these ‘big problems’, we need creative responses.

"I appreciate this opportunity because it made me look at environmental problems as something more close and personal."

Shortlisted entrant, 2021

If you’re shortlisted you’ll be invited to a virtual event, hosted by the University of Warwick’s GSD Department. During the virtual event, you’ll hear from staff and current students in GSD, and we’ll announce the winners of the competition. Each winner will be awarded a £50 prize. The event and prizes are recognition of your achievement and effort in tackling the types of topics our degrees aim to address. We hope this experience will be a great opportunity for you to have your voice heard. We also hope it's a time you can refer back to when you challenged yourself beyond your everyday studies at school.

Previous winners have had their work published in GLOBUS, a student-run online publication at the School for Cross-faculty Studies.

The judging panel will consist of members of academic staff from the GSD team, our current students and the GLOBUS team. We’ll be looking for your engagement with your chosen topic, your understanding of the issue and your creativity in your response.

The competition is open to you if you're in year 11 or 12 in the UK, or if you're a school pupil in the 15 to 17 year old age group equivalent. It doesn't matter who you are, where you're from or what subjects you currently study. We're looking for unique entries, and as you'll see on our Enter page, we accept a whole range of responses, from traditional essays to videos. Whatever your background, we'd like to hear what you have to say about issues of global sustainable development.

We accept individual submissions and group submissions. Individuals involved in group submissions must be from the same school.


Entry for the 2021 GSD Competition has now closed.

If you’re a school teacher and you think your students could benefit from taking part in our competition, please pass on the word for us and encourage your students to get involved.

If you’d like to find out about other events in the GSD Department that your pupils could be involved in, please visit our Outreach pages.


2020/21 competition winners

Congratulations to the essay submissions winner (Clint Broadhead), those commended and the runners up; and the creative submission winner (Prabhas Vedagiri), those commended and the runners up.

2019/20 competition winners

Congratulations to the essay submissions winner (Clara Grosz), those highly commended and the runners up; and the creative submission winners (Shian-Li Kelly-Williams and Isabella Walters).

Dr Marta Guerriero handing a certificate to one of our competition winners

2018/19 competition winners

Congratulations to the winners of Best Essay (James Rennie) and Best Video (Finn Deacon), and those highly commended (Issy Edwards and Freddie Seagrave).

Professor Cathia Jenainati handing a certificate to one of our competition winners

2017/18 competition winners

Congratulations to the winner (Anna Gardner) and those highly commended (Chloe Fox-Robertson and Freddie zu Wied). See here for extracts from their essays.

Ask us a question

If you have any questions about the competition or GSD at Warwick, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us.