Contests for Students

Global Peacebuilding Center
February 23, 2016

The U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) is committed to educating the next generation of peacebuilders about the U.S. role in preventing and resolving conflicts around the world, and about the important part that young people can play as engaged global citizens.

Starting in 1987, USIP challenged students to think critically about global issues of conflict and peace through the National Peace Essay Contest (NPEC). USIP then expanded its work with young people in more recent years with the creation of the Global Peacebuilding Center in 2011. Now, USIP is building upon the legacy of the NPEC (which was wrapped up in 2014) and expanding the ongoing work of the Global Peacebuilding Center by partnering with other organizations on some new initiatives for students:

National High School Essay Contest

USIP is proud to partner with the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) on the annual National High School Essay Contest for 2015-2016. The contest will engage high school students in learning and writing about issues of peace and conflict, encouraging appreciation for diplomacy’s role in building partnerships that can advance peacebuilding and protect national security. The 2015-16 contest theme, "Building Peace through Diplomacy," challenges students to identify a current threat to U.S. interests abroad and to research and present options via which Foreign Service officers can respond. Learn more about the question and contest rules.

National History Day

This year, the U.S. Institute of Peace is sponsoring a Special Prize as part of National History Day. The Global Peace Prize will be awarded at the national competition to the top middle and high school entries that demonstrate America’s commitment to peace, including the role that individuals, organizations and/or the U.S. government have played in advancing the cause of global peace, using the theme “Exploration, Encounter, Exchange.” Students can present their research in many different ways – through essays, exhibits, documentaries, performances, and websites.

National Peace Essay Contest

For 27 years, the National Peace Essay Contest promoted serious discussion among high school students, teachers, and national leaders about international peace and conflict resolution today and in the future. Each year over 1,100 students submitted entries to USIP’s National Peace Essay Contest, while thousands more participated in related writing and other classroom exercises in high schools around the country.

Archived information on the contests is available:

Past NPEC national and state winners should submit scholarship requests to