Summer 2020 Essay Competition

The Quarterly’s summer competition is back for its second-ever edition! Three prompts, 1500 words, a couple of rules and a prize of 50 euros. This year it is open to all campuses, so get to your keyboards! It starts now.

Prompt 1: How can we prepare for the next crisis?

1918. 2020. Then, we still couldn’t fly over the Atlantic. Now, we’re getting ready to send humans on Mars. In a century, technology has revolutionized our world in ways no one could ever imagine. Looking back at the Spanish Flu, however, is nothing short of a travel in time. Not much, and definitely not enough, has changed in the way we deal with global pandemics. What tools should we implement? What social behaviors should we adjust? In short, what fundamental economic or political change, if any, is necessary to reduce the impact of another threat like COVID-19?

Prompt 2: How much does a country’s past influence its future?

Path-dependency, or resistance to change, is an important concept not only in public policy but also in history. For many different reasons, policymakers call on the past to try to shape contemporary policies, with various degrees of success. Given this broad context, how important is a country’s history in determining its long-run economic development?

Prompt 3: How far should government redistribution go?

Income inequality is huge in the Western world. In the United States, economists estimate that the 0.1% own between 15% to 20% of the country’s private wealth. Whether that number is rising or stagnating is an emerging debate, but the issue at hand stays the same. How can we live in fairer society? The answer for many has been to change the distribution of income, a policy that comes with its set of benefits and inconveniences. What are the most important economic effects of government redistribution and how should this inform or change current government policy? You may focus on any nation.

How this works

The essay has to tackle only one of the three prompts provided. It must not exceed 1500 words and be no less than 1000 words. How to structure and approach the prompt is entirely up to you. The deadline is September 15th.

  • The participants need to convey an argument through analysis. We are not looking for research papers, but essays with a clear opinion on the topic and preferably a few solutions. It is important that you build your analysis on reliable sources, case studies or other academic evidence. We will select the winner based on analytical rigour and his/her ability to convey an argument.
  • Articles have to be written in English.
  • The document should be formatted with Times New Roman 12 and include a heading and a subtext – much like the articles we post on The Quarterly.
  • The articles should be submitted to “” as a Microsoft Word document, under the object “Summer Competition – Name_LastName”.
  • The essay should be submitted no later than September 15th, 23:59, Paris time. Any work submitted after that date will not be taken into consideration.
  • The competition is open to any Sciences Po undergraduate student, from any campus, whether they be in their first, second, or third year – or even in their fourth year for dual BA students.
  • You are not a student from Sciences Po, but you still wish to compete? At The Quarterly, we believe in merit: if you send us your essay, we will consider it similarly to every other.


Only one winner will be granted a prize of 50 euros. The winning article will be published in the Quarterly. Other high quality essays will also be published in the paper and will receive an honorary mention but no cash prize.

The Quarterly’s print edition ends up in the hands of ambitious students, journalists, members of parliament, diplomats, and most importantly, on the desk of our campus director. Seize your chance to get noticed. The competition has started.

1 thought on “Summer 2020 Essay Competition

  1. The rules state that non-Sciences Po students may enter. However, does this only extend to undergraduate students or is the competition open to high school seniors as well?

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