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Global Sustainable Development Competition

 Please note that the deadline for entry to the 2023 competition has now passed
Each year, the Global Sustainable Development Department at the University of Warwick runs a competition for year 11 and 12 students (students aged between 15 and 17 years).

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

2021-22 winners

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 degrees equip 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 11 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

The 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.

If you are shortlisted you will be invited to a virtual event, hosted by the University of Warwick’s GSD Department. During the event, you will hear from staff and current students from the GSD Department, and we will 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 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 will 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 are in year 11 or 12 in the UK, or if you are a school pupil in the 15 to 17 year old age group equivalent from anywhere around the world. It doesn't matter who you are, where you are from or what subjects you currently study. We are looking for unique entries, and as you will see on our Enter page, we accept a whole range of responses from traditional essays to videos. Whatever your background, we would 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 2023 competition is now closed.

Enter page

If you are 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. Please could we ask that you circulate information about the competition amongst your students and add it to relevant newsletters and student communications.

Hear from the schools of some of our previous competition winners and runners up:

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


Do you have any advice for anyone considering submitting an entry to the competition?

My advice would be to just do it! If you have an interest in sustainability, this is an opportunity to push yourself out of your academic comfort zone. My tip would be to organise your time effectively - researching is a time-consuming process. Overall, my competition entry gave me skills that I have used throughout the whole of my first year - there really is nothing to lose!

Hannah Musk, Highly Commended Essay, 2019-20

Hear more from Hannah

What did you enjoy most about participating in the GSD Competition?

The thing I enjoyed most about participating in the GSD competition was getting to explore humanity's struggle to achieve sustainability through a more hopeful perspective. Discouragement comes naturally as we face a global crisis, which is why it felt important to think about it with a sense of hope. I firmly believe that the concept of abundance can help people think differently about how we can achieve our environmental goals, and I'd like to think of my poem as something of a personal manifesto. I appreciated experimenting with poetry, a medium previously unexplored by me.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of entering the GSD competition?

If I could give any advice to future GSD competition candidates, I would highly advise having fun with their chosen prompt and not overthinking their form, but rather letting ideas that matter to them naturally flow into shape, whichever type of submission it be.

Maia Gorman, First Place, 2021-22

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

Shortlisted entrant, 2021


Hannah Musk

Highly Commended Essay, 2019-20

"If you have an interest in sustainability, this is an opportunity to push yourself out of your academic comfort zone. My tip would be to organise your time effectively - researching is a time-consuming process. Overall, my competition entry gave me skills that I have used throughout the whole of my first year - there really is nothing to lose!"

Hear from Hannah