Tapping into Canada’s research talent for innovative international policy ideas!

Global Affairs Canada (GAC) has published details of this year’s International Policy Ideas Challenge competition.  Full details are below and can be found at: http://www.international.gc.ca/world-monde/policy_challenge-defi_politique.aspx?lang=eng

See the SSHRC competition poster.

Past competitions

2016 Policy Ideas Challenge finalists

Call for Proposals



Global Affairs Canada (GAC), in collaboration with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), is pleased to announce the second edition of the International Policy Ideas Challenge designed to identify concrete innovative solutions to emerging international policy challenges faced by Canada. The objective of the program is to draw on the network of talented Canadian graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and civil society researchers. Applicants are initially invited to submit brief proposals. Ten selected finalists will be given several months to further develop their proposals into policy briefs, which will then be presented to Government of Canada officials. They will be expected to present their research in a special day-long symposium, hosted by GAC in Ottawa in November 2017 on the margins of the Knowledge Summit, to be organized as part of SSHRC’s Imagining Canada’s Future initiative. The proceedings of the symposium will be disseminated by GAC with a disclaimer indicating that the presentations represent the views of the individual presenters. Participants may also be offered the opportunity to participate in a special session with emerging youth leaders at SSHRC’s Knowledge Summit.



Ten winning projects will receive $3,000 each (regardless of whether the proposal is submitted by an individual or a team). The award will be made upon the submission of the final product to Global Affairs Canada. In addition to the award, travel expenses of up to $800 per project will be covered to facilitate the finalists’ participation in the presentation session and the SSHRC Knowledge Summit in Ottawa in November. A supplement may be available to researchers travelling long distances in order to partially offset the higher cost of airfare.



Each proposal should offer solutions bridging at least two of the three policy areas under Global Affairs Canada’s mandate—foreign policy, trade, and international development. Ideas should be linked to the priority themes indicated below. However, proposals related to other emerging issues and trends affecting Canada’s international policy will also be considered.

Strengthening Canada’s relations with major traditional and emerging partners;

Applying a Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) approach to Canada’s global engagement;

Strengthening Canada’s capacity to meet its goals and major international commitments, in particular the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; the Paris Agreement on climate change; the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States;

the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security; and the Global Compacts on refugees and migration;

Identifying best ways for Canada to support fragile and conflict-affected states;

Advancing Canada’s progressive trade agenda in a way that promotes Canada’s prosperity, while supporting inclusive growth and sustainable development globally;

Populism, extremism, and challenges to governance and democratic development.



The Policy Ideas Challenge invites applications from:

graduate students (MA and PhD level) or post-doctoral fellows;

civil society researchers affiliated with a non-profit organization (e.g., a non-governmental organization or a think tank) who are within five years of graduation from a graduate program at a recognized Canadian post-secondary educational institution.

Applicants must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada.

For team applications, only the lead researcher is expected to meet the above requirements. The lead researcher may include collaborators from another country or sector to support the project in an advisory capacity. No monetary award will be given to collaborators.


To Apply

To apply, please send the following items as a PDF file attachment to: POR@international.gc.ca


Proposal (not to exceed 750 words) signed by the lead researcher;

Curriculum Vitae for the lead researcher, including his/her contact information;

A transcript for the current or most recently completed graduate degree for the lead researcher;

One confidential letter of reference (academic or professional) from a supervisor familiar with the lead applicant’s research skills to be sent directly by the referee to POR@international.gc.ca;

If applicable, short biographies of collaborators.


Proposals will be evaluated by a Global Affairs Canada-led selection committee on a combination of quality, relevance, feasibility, and originality of the idea, as well as the capability and qualifications of the individual(s) to carry the idea to a research phase.


Proposal Requirements


Proposals should:

not exceed 750 words;

offer solutions addressing the connections between at least two of the three policy areas under Global Affairs Canada’s mandate – foreign policy, trade, and international development;

be related to one of the research priority themes identified above or justify the choice of a different topic;

explain why the issue should matter to policy makers;

sketch out the idea and preliminary policy implications;

include a brief methodology;

draw out original perspectives and innovative solutions.


Proposals that adopt a multi-disciplinary approach will be given priority. Collaboration (e.g., between researchers from different sectors or countries) is encouraged if it strengthens the quality of the project.



The short-listed candidates will be invited to present their proposals virtually to a Global Affairs Canada jury in March 2017.

Ten winning candidates will then be awarded a contract in the amount of $3,000 to finalise and present their idea.

The final product should take the form of a research brief (not exceeding 4,500 words) and include a one-page executive summary and policy recommendations. It should be augmented with creative communication tool(s) to convey results (e.g., info-graphic, mapping, short video, or other). The final product will be due in early September 2017.

Researchers will be contacted by Global Affairs Canada in September 2017 to confirm their participation in the GAC symposium and the SSHRC Knowledge Summit in November (exact dates to be determined).



Global Affairs Canada is grateful to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) for supporting this initiative.


Please join us for a Teleconference Q&A session

Global Affairs Canada will hold a teleconference session to address questions from interested applicants on Wednesday, February 22 from 1:00-2:00 PM EST. If you wish to ask a question, please register by email at info.POR@international.gc.ca. Upon registration, you will be sent all the necessary teleconference information.

We kindly ask that you send your questions in advance of the session. In order to make the session more efficient, we may group similar questions into one general answer. Only questions submitted by Thursday, February 16 at 5:00PM EST will be addressed in the session. A Q&A document based on the teleconference will be posted online following the session.

Please note that Global Affairs Canada cannot provide personalized advice to applicants on their individual situations or the relevance of their research to the themes of the competition. The teleconference session is intended to offer general clarification of the information contained in the call for proposals.



Call for proposals, January 2017

Officials of Global Affairs Canada will hold a virtual session to address questions from interested applicants, February 22, 2017

Application deadline, March 13, 2017

Assessment of applications *, March 2017

Selection of the ten winning entries, April 2017

Joint SSHRC/GAC press release to announce the winners, April 2017

A virtual workshop for selected candidates to discuss their projects, April 2017

Policy briefs due, September 5, 2017

Presentation of final research products to Government of Canada Officials and participation in the Knowledge Summit of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, November 2017

Dissemination of the proceedings of the GAC Symposium, February 2018


* As the final step in the assessment process, shortlisted candidates may be invited to present their proposals virtually to a Global Affairs Canada jury.