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International Policy Ideas Challenge 2022 – Call for proposals


Global Affairs Canada (GAC), in collaboration with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), is pleased to announce the sixth edition of the International Policy Ideas Challenge. The objective of the program is to draw on the network of talented Canadian graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and early-career civil society researchers to identify concrete, innovative solutions to emerging international policy challenges faced by Canada.

The program offers applicants a chance to test their skills at translating academic expertise into policy language and insights. Applicants are invited to submit brief proposals. GAC will select up to 6 winning proposals, and the Balsillie School of International Affairs (BSIA) will provide coaching to researchers as part of further developing their proposals into full policy briefs. Winners will present their briefs to Government of Canada officials as part of the virtual Ideas Symposium, which GAC will host in late 2022.


The International Policy Ideas Challenge invites applications from current graduate students (Master’s or PhD level) and post-doctoral fellows at a recognized Canadian post-secondary educational institution.

Researchers affiliated with a Canadian non-profit organization (e.g., a non-governmental organization or a think tank) who are within 6 years of graduation from a graduate program at a recognized post-secondary institution will also be considered.

Applicants must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada.

Indeterminate and term employees of the Government of Canada are not eligible to apply. Additionally, employees of GAC, including students and casuals, are not eligible to apply.

Team applications, with a maximum of 3 members, are permitted; however, a lead researcher must be identified. A team application that includes collaborators from other universities is permitted. In the case of a team application, all members are expected to meet the above requirements.

Financial award

Up to 6 awards will be granted. For each winning proposal, $3,000 will be provided to the lead (or sole) researcher upon submission of the final brief and formal presentation to GAC.


In addition to the financial award, all winners will receive mandatory coaching from the BSIA. The coaching program will give winners additional assistance on their research, policy analysis and presentation skills. The coaching will include group and one-on-one sessions for which each winner will be paired with a subject-matter expert. Instruction will be provided in the official language of the application, and all sessions will be delivered online.

By the end of the program, winners will have a deeper understanding of GAC, of Canada’s foreign policy and international assistance and trade and of international and multilateral considerations relevant to their areas of specialization. During the program, winners will also learn how to prepare a policy brief, develop policy recommendations and present their ideas in a compelling manner.

Winners are expected to fully participate in all of the 4 coaching sessions. These will be delivered online during summer and fall 2022:

  1. A 2-day group session on Global Affairs Canada and Canadian foreign policy 101.
  2. A 1- to 2-hour one-on-one coaching session with a BSIA coach with relevant subject-matter expertise to discuss policy brief content and potential recommendations
  3. A 1- to 2-hour follow-up coaching session with a BSIA coach to discuss the completed draft policy brief
  4. A half-day group session to practise presentations

Winners will also receive a course package with key readings. The package will include guidelines on writing a persuasive policy brief and delivering an effective presentation.


Each proposal should outline a trend, dynamic, or research question affecting Canadian foreign policy in relation to one or more themes provided below that applicants believe needs additional study. Proposals should sketch out preliminary policy recommendations. The 6 themes below are derived from GAC’s mandate and key objectives on foreign policy and international trade and assistance. The policy proposal must be relevant to at least 1 of the themes provided below. The policy proposal may also use more than 1 of the themes, but this is not required. The themes are:

  1. Canada-led or- supported actions with close partners, including the G7 and NATO, and/or through Canada’s engagement with international organizations, including the UN, that aim to do 1 or more of:
  2. Canada-led or -supported international responses that advance support for democracy, rule of law, media freedom, inclusive governance and/or human rights, particularly those made in coordination with the G7 and NATO, which could include responding to foreign interference in democratic processes and/or egregious violations of human rights
  3. Applying lessons learned from COVID-19 response and recovery to informing and strengthening Canada’s international assistance in the areas of pandemic preparedness and recovery; you may focus on priority issues, such as:
    • strengthening health systems
    •  the One Health approach
    • education for refugees and forcibly displaced children and youth
    • prevention of gender violence
    • paid and unpaid care work
    • protections for migrant workers in the care economy
    • decent work and employment in a post-COVID-19 world
    • other social and economic considerations
  4. Ways Canada should further support developing countries in taking climate action through adaptation, mitigation and resilience, with particular emphasis on the needs and rights of women and marginalized vulnerable groups; you may focus on 1 or more priority issues, such as:
    • international climate finance, including blended finance
    • feminist approaches
    • nature-based solutions
    • biodiversity
    • small-island developing states
    • Africa-focused programming
    • Indigenous-led solutions
    • locally led climate solutions
    • climate change and security
  5. How Canada can help to build and safeguard an open and inclusive rules-based global trading system that will help raise the standard of living for all Canadians. You may focus on 1 or more priority issues, such as:
    • Strengthening and securing critical supply chains
    • Advancing Canada’s global leadership on critical minerals
    • Ensuring that Canada’s trading relationships are mutually beneficial economic relationships
    • Ensuring that Canadian businesses operating abroad do not contribute to human rights abuses
    • Combatting protectionism, unfair trade practices and economic coercion around the world
    • Positioning Canada as a top destination for global investment while balancing Canada’s national interests
  6. Ways to advance Canada’s export diversification strategy, to enable Canadian businesses to grow internationally and to create economic opportunities through increased and more diverse trade and investment. You may focus on 1 or more priority issues, such as:

Note: The final product will take the form of a policy brief, not exceeding 3,500 words, and it must include a one-page executive summary and policy recommendations. Coaching sessions will take place in summer and fall 2022, and final briefs will be due in fall 2022. Visit the International Policy Ideas Challenge winners’ pages to learn about past winners.

Proposal Requirements

Proposals should demonstrate your ability to present your idea comprehensively and succinctly, including by explaining how you will gather relevant evidence and conduct rigorous analysis that would allow you to develop policy recommendations in the final policy brief, if you are selected as one of the winners of the Challenge.

Proposals should:

To Apply

To apply, please send the following items as PDF file attachments to

Only complete applications will be assessed. Proposals will be evaluated by a GAC-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 research and policy brief phases.

As part of the assessment process, shortlisted candidates will be interviewed by members of the selection committee. Only successful applicants will be contacted. The names of the winners will be announced on the GAC website.If you have other questions about this call after reading the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), please send them to Please note however that GAC cannot provide personalized advice to applicants on their individual situations or the relevance of their research to the themes of the competition. We are only able to offer general clarification of the information contained in the call for proposals.

Process and Timeline

Call for proposals launchMarch 2022
Application deadlineMay 20, 2022
Assessment of applicationsMay-June, 2022
Selection of the six winning entriesJune 2022
GAC and SSHRC announce  winnersJune 2022
Four BSIA coaching sessions (roughly 3 days in total; see “Coaching,” above)June-Fall 2022
Policy briefs dueTBD Late Fall 2022
Virtual Ideas Symposium to present final research products to Government of Canada officials at GACTBD 2022


Global Affairs Canada is pleased to acknowledge the partnership of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) in this initiative.

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