International Policy Ideas Challenge 2016

Global Affairs Canada announces finalists in inaugural International Policy Ideas Challenge

Global Affairs Canada is pleased to announce the finalists for the inaugural International Policy Ideas Challenge and wishes to congratulate the outstanding students involved! The Foreign Policy Research division (POR) launched and is managing the Challenge, a competition that supports the engagement of Global Affairs Canada with young Canadian academics—talented Canadian graduate students and post-doctoral fellows—to help identify concrete, innovative solutions to emerging international policy challenges.

Global Affairs Canada received 83 proposals submitted by university students from across Canada and abroad covering a wide range of internationally relevant topics, such as climate change, development, technology-related ideas, diplomacy (in its broad sense), and corporate social responsibility. POR along with subject matter experts reviewed each submission.

The high quality and wide-ranging nature of the proposals made selecting the winners difficult. The 83 submissions were whittled down to 15 proposals, and the institutions submitting them were asked to either submit a three-minute “briefing” video explaining their proposals or take part in teleconferences. The short list was then reduced to 10 and finally to five proposals.

The five finalists have been asked to convert their proposals into policy briefs, and each will receive $3,000 toward covering the costs to do so. See the International Policy Ideas Challenge 2016 poster.

A special thanks goes out to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada for supporting this initiative.

The five finalists are listed alphabetically below.

Top 5 proposals

Climate Finance: Mobilizing Institutional Investors Benson
University of British Columbia

George Patrick Richard


George Patrick Richard Benson is a student in the masters program at the UBC School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP), where his thesis work focuses on how cities around the world collaborate on climate-change policy. Mr. Benson currently holds an SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship and was the 2016 winner of the Brahm Wiesman Memorial Scholarship. He is a former president of the UBC Planning Students Association and is part of the Greenest City Scholars Program with the Vancouver Economic Commission. He completed his undergraduate studies in political science and history at the University of Victoria, and during this time was also an intern with the WARBE Development Foundation in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and a civil society observer to the 2013 UN High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development.

Aliya Dossa


Aliya Dossa recently received an undergraduate degree from UBC’s Vancouver School of Economics, having written her prize-nominated thesis in the field of applied econometrics on the impact of climate change and inequality on international migration patterns. She is the co-founder of MycoRemedy Inc., a biotechnology company that restores polluted environmental sites 100-percent naturally using fungi-based remediation techniques. Currently, Aliya is working on accelerating her company as one of The Next 36 while studying in the program’s Entrepreneurship Institute based at the University of Toronto. Aliya has been recognized as one of Canada’s Top 25 Under 25 Environmentalists and was a finalist for Canada’s Top 20 Under 20 award.

Chiyi Tam


Chiyi Tam is an urbanist (an expert in city planning) who works in international development and sustainability. She is currently the project coordinator of the Technology and Management Centre for Development at the Oxford Department of International Development. Before moving to the United Kingdom, Ms. Tam was involved in launching the UmbraCity umbrella-sharing service and later served as the company’s communications officer. She was the Sustainability Coordinator at the Alma Mater Society of UBC and a fellow at CityStudio Vancouver and Inner City Farms. Chiyi received the Walter G. Hardwick Scholarship in Urban Studies and completed an undergraduate degree in Global Resource Systems at the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Land and Food Systems.

Determinants of Foreign Direct Investment into Canada: A Data-driven Approach
Carleton University

Michael Machum, Gaurav Sharma and Sophia Wong


Michael Machum is an analyst at Statistics Canada, part of the Globalization Measures team that is working to understand the interconnectedness between the economy of Canada and the economies of the rest of the world. The focus of his work has been on the activities of foreign affiliates in Canada. He is currently finishing a master’s degree in economics at Carleton University and holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Ottawa in political science and history. His interests are in energy and transportation economics, having furthered these interests throughout his time as an analyst on oil pipeline transportation at Statistics Canada’s Environment, Energy, and Transportation Statistics Division.

Gaurav Sharma completed a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and economics at the University of Toronto and earned a master’s degree in economics at Carleton University. He is interested in finance, monetary economics, economic growth and development, public policy, and the role of technology in reshaping the world. Through his work with the federal government, he has come to appreciate public policy as a crucial bridge that transfers ideas from academia and leverages them to solve public issues. Through his research on the determinants of foreign direct investment, he seeks to propose policy solutions that will turn Canada into an attractive destination for foreign investment and help Canadians reap benefits from the increase in international investment flows.

Sophia Wong received a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Waterloo and is currently completing a master’s degree in economics at Carleton University. While pursuing her graduate studies, she worked on current economic analysis projects for Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada as well as for Global Affairs Canada. While Sophia is interested in a range of issues pertaining to public policy, she appreciates how much studying economics has helped to accommodate her interests.

Digital Technologies and Environmental Change
Lancaster University

Vanessa Thomas


Vanessa Thomas is studying at Lancaster University’s HighWire Centre for Doctoral Training where her doctoral research addresses the human-computer interaction (HCI) community in computer science and explores how HCI researchers might prepare for a future world of resource scarcity. Her other research interests and side projects are related to smart cities, urban development (especially in Latin America), “open everything” (data, source software, Internet, education, government, etc.), sustainable development, information and communication technologies for development, crisis informatics, human rights and public policy.

Making Canada a Leader in Corporate Accountability for Serious Human Rights Violations Committed Abroad
University of Victoria

Jean-Michel Marcoux


Jean-Michel Marcoux holds a bachelor’s degree in public affairs and international relations from Université Laval and a master’s degree in international studies from l’Institut québécois des hautes études internationales, Université Laval. From 2011 to 2013, he served as a research associate in a nationwide program addressing the governance of biotechnology. He also interned as a junior trade specialist in a private firm in Washington, D.C. Interested in international investment law and international relations theory, he conducted his doctoral research at the University of Victoria, focusing on the evolving codification of foreign investors’ responsibilities by intergovernmental organizations. He receives financial support from the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarships Program (2014-2017) and from the Centre for International Governance Innovation International’s Law Research Program Graduate Scholarship (2015-2016).

Networking Peace: The Digital Dimensions of Conflict and Peacebuilding
University of Toronto

Chris Tenove


Chris Tenove is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Ethics and the Munk School of Global Affairs. He studies the law, politics and institutional design of global justice institutions, with a particular focus on the relationship between the International Criminal Court and victims of international crimes. In 2015, the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council supported his work toward a PhD thesis in political science at the University of British Columbia. He earned a master’s degree in rhetoric from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of British Columbia.

Other Shortlisted Proposals

Comparative Study on Establishing an Innovation and Learning Platform (ILP) for an Integrated, Strategic Development Policy
Ontario College of Art and Design University

Nenad Rava

Nenad Rava is currently conducting research on strategic foresight and innovation within the OCAD University program and acts as senior research advisor on policy design, and governance (SSHRC projects) at the Strategic Innovation Lab. He has 20 years of professional experience in international development as a consultant, adviser, coach, expert and project leader on social innovation, institutional reforms, strategic policy design, complex system change, foresight and strategic planning, democratic governance, and capacity development. After earning an undergraduate degree in management and specialization in development policy, he earned his doctorate in the quality of democracy and nation-state building. He is also supporting the United Nations Development Group on developing new methods for integrated policy approaches for the sustainable development goals and mentors 12 country teams in Asia, Africa, and Europe on development innovation.

Investing in National and Local Humanitarian Actors: Considerations for Canadian Policy and Practice
Dalhousie University

David Morgan

David Morgan is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Political Science at Dalhousie University and a doctoral fellow with the Centre for Foreign Policy Studies. With his doctoral research funded by a Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation scholarship and a Vanier Canada Graduate scholarship, he explores the changing landscape of humanitarian aid, particularly in an era of increasingly protracted armed conflicts, multiplying environmental disasters, and new risks posed by climate change, rapid urbanization, and international migration. Previously, David completed an internship with the Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland in 2016, a master’s degree in political science at the University of British Columbia in 2011, and a bachelor’s degree in political science and international development studies at Dalhousie University in 2009.

Millennials - Reenergizing Canadian Diplomacy and Leadership in Managing Complex International Crises
University of Toronto

Jennifer Levin Bonder

Jennifer Levin Bonder is a doctoral student in the Department of History at the University of Toronto. Using newly declassified documents, interviews, and mapping technology, she will use her research to provide a more complete account of foreign investment strategies and the effects of foreign capital on society and politics, which will enable decision makers to learn from the policy experiments of the past. After completing an internship with Global Affairs Canada, she caught the policy “bug”. She is a teaching assistant, serves on the Graduate History Society in the Department of History at the University of Toronto as the representative to the Canadian Historical Association, and is an associate editor with the Department of History’s graduate peer review journal. Jennifer holds fellowships with Massey College and the Bill Graham Centre for Contemporary International History.

Sophie Borwein

Sophie Borwein is a PhD student in the University of Toronto’s Department of Political Science, a holder of a Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarships Program award, and a junior fellow at Massey College. She holds a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Toronto. Prior to beginning her PhD, she worked at the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, an agency of the Government of Ontario, and at the Mowat Centre, a public policy think tank in Toronto.

Maripier Isabelle

Maripier Isabelle is a PhD candidate in the Department of Economics at the University of Toronto, where she is also a course instructor and co-president of the Graduate Economics Union. Her research is at the intersection of the fields of health economics and labour economics and seeks to map how the incentives built into health care and social systems influence providers’ and patients’ choices and influence health outcomes and access to care. She is a junior fellow at Massey College, a fellow at the Canadian Centre for Health Economics and a founding member of l’Institut des générations, a non-profit organization based in her home province of Quebec. She strongly believes in the intersection of research and policy work.

Raili Lakanen

Raili Lakanen is a doctoral candidate in planning at the University of Toronto whose research areas include participatory sustainability planning and environmental politics. Her dissertation focuses on the youth climate movement as a site of political activity and social movement activism in Canada and has been supported by an SSHRC doctoral scholarship. A native of Sudbury, Ontario, she holds a master’s degree in planning from the University of Toronto and a bachelor’s degree (honours) from Queen’s University. She is presently a member of the Board of Directors of Sierra Club Canada and, as a youth delegate, has attended many United Nations summits on environmental and climate issues. As a junior fellow of Massey College (2009-2014), she was twice part of the organizing committee of the annual Walter Gordon Symposium on Public Policy.

Sustainable Solutions Studios (S3) Fostering Innovation Through Youth Engagement
University of British Columbia

Kiran Alwani

Kiran Alwani is studying for a master’s degree in public policy and global affairs at UBC. Prior to entering the master’s program, she worked in communications, public engagement, and development at the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC) in Toronto. Her major projects included Adrienne Clarkson’s 2014 CBC Massey Lectures “Belonging: The Paradox of Citizenship” and the ICC’s annual LaFontaine-Baldwin Symposium. During the summer of 2016, Kiran plans to work at the Conference Board of Canada in the Public Policy Division with the Northern and Aboriginal Policy research team.

Corrin Bulmer

Corrin Bulmer is a student in UBC’s Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs program. The policy issues she is passionate about include relations with Indigenous peoples in Canada, immigration as a lived experience, and national, ethnic, and religious identity politics in contemporary Asia. Her academic background includes a bachelor’s degree in religious studies and history from Mount Allison University. Corrin is particularly active in data analysis projects with non-normative indicators, such as religious identity, political leanings, and performance metrics.

The Creation of a North American Accelerator for the Research & Development of Clean Technologies
Laval University

Sarah Bérubé

Sarah Bérubé holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Affairs and International Relations from Laval University and a master’s degree from the Hautes Études Internationales from the same University. She thus has a multidisciplinary training in law, politics and economics. She has been a page at the Quebec National Assembly for two parliamentary sessions (2013-2014 and 2014-2015) in addition to conducting researches in parliamentary law at the Research Service of the same institution during two summer breaks. Furthermore, she has several international experiences, such as semesters abroad in France (2013) and in Italy (2015), a linguistic immersion in Spain (2013), a volunteer experience in Bolivia (2015) and internships in France (2012), in the United States (2016) and in England (2016). She completed her master’s degree internship at the Quebec Government Office in Washington where she was immersed in the heart of discussions on the interaction between the challenge of climate change and sustainable energy security.

Global Affairs Canada thanks everyone involved in the International Policy Ideas Challenge!

For more information, contact

  • International Policy Ideas Challenge 2016

    Tapping into Canada’s Graduate Student Talent for Innovative International Policy Ideas


    Global Affairs Canada is pleased to announce the inaugural International Policy Ideas Challenge designed to identify concrete innovative solutions to emerging international policy challenges by drawing on the network of talented graduate students and post-doctoral fellows in Canada.


    The top 10 entries will be invited to pitch their proposal virtually to a jury. Three winning entries will receive $1,000 each, plus an additional $2,000 to finalize and present their idea to policy officials in Ottawa.


    Ideas should be linked to the following research priorities but proposals related to other emerging issues and trends affecting Canadian international policy will be considered:

    • Strengthening Canada's relations with North American partners, particularly the United States
    • Adopting a North American approach to climate change and clean energy
    • Reenergizing Canadian diplomacy and leadership in managing complex international crises
    • Partnering with non-state actors in addressing global governance challenges
    • Making better use of data and technology in the development of international policy

    Proposal Requirements

    Proposals related to one of the research priorities identified above should:

    • not exceed 750 words;
    • briefly explain why the topic was chosen; and
    • sketch out the idea and preliminary policy implications.

    Proposals related to issue other than the research priorities must also explain why the issue should matter to policy makers.

    All proposals must include a brief methodology, drawing out original perspectives and innovative solutions.

    Proposals that adopt a multi-disciplinary approach, offer innovative solutions, and foster inter-university collaboration will be given priority. Proposals may be submitted by teams of multiple scholars.

    To Apply

    To apply send the following items as a pdf file attachment to:

    • Proposal (not to exceed 750 words) signed by the applicant (s)
    • Curriculum Vitae
    • Proof of enrolment or affiliation with a recognized academic institution
    • Sample paper or publication (please limit to ten pages or send a link)

    Proposals will be evaluated by a GAC 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.


    • 10 short-listed candidates will be invited to present their proposals virtually to a Global Affairs Canada jury at the end of March 2016.
    • Three winning candidates will then be awarded a contract in the amount of $3,000 to finalise and present their idea (with $1,000 awarded immediately and $2,000 after delivery).
    • 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 is highly encouraged to augment the brief with additional innovative tool (s) to convey results (i.e. info-graphic, mapping, short video, or other).
    • It will be due on June 17, 2016, at which time the candidate(s) will be asked to present results to a wider audience of Government of Canada officials.


    Global Affairs Canada thanks the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) for its support for this initiative.

    Time Lines

    Call for proposalsJanuary
    Deadline for applicationMarch 31
    Selection of top 10 entriesMarch 28
    Virtual presentations by top 10 entriesEarly April
    Selection of the three winning entriesEarly April
    Briefs dueJune 17
Date Modified: