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International Policy Ideas Challenge 2024 - Call for proposals

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Global Affairs Canada (GAC), in collaboration with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), is pleased to announce the seventh 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 between 5 and 10 winning proposals and 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, taking place in late 2024.


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

Between 5 and 10 awards will be granted. For each winning proposal, $4,000 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. 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 international policy 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 2024:

  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 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 coach to discuss the completed draft policy brief
  4. A half-day group session to practice 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.


Applications should propose a topic that affects Canadian interests in international policy (foreign policy, economic policy, international assistance policy), which applicants believe needs additional study. Proposals should explain why the proposed topic is important to Canada (What is the Canadian dilemma, vulnerability, and/or opportunity?) and sketch out preliminary policy recommendations (How should Canada’s international policy change or adapt?).

The policy proposal must be relevant to at least one of the four themes provided below. A higher weighting will be awarded to proposals that explore a topic with an integrated and crosscutting approach, combining foreign, economic, and international assistance policy dimensions of the topic. 

We provide some suggested topics under each theme in order to help guide applicants, but these lists are not exhaustive. Applicants should feel welcome to develop a different topic related to one of the themes, if they wish. Where it makes sense for your topic, you may wish to explore existing or potential Canada-led or -supported actions with partners (such as the EU and its member states, partners in the Indo-Pacific, emerging and developing economies, coalitions of like-minded countries, G7 members, the UN, NATO or other international organisations).

1. Canada’s international policy in a polycrisis environment

2. Emerging systemic challenges for Canada

3. Leveraging the international toolkit (diplomatic, trade and international assistance relationships and tools)  

4. Strategic objectives and initiatives under Canada’s Indo-Pacific Engagement Strategy

* For additional background, please refer to the Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy page.

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 2024, and final briefs will be due in fall 2024. 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:

Guidance on the use and disclosure of generative AI in the preparation of proposals

Proposals must be the original work of the applicant. Applicants are responsible for ensuring that information included in their proposals is accurate and complete and that all sources are appropriately acknowledged and referenced, including AI-generated content*. Applicants are required to clearly state if and where proposal material has been generated by AI. Submissions may be subject to review using AI detection software to ensure compliance. Submissions that rely excessively on AI, failing to meet the originality requirement, will be disqualified. 

* AI-generated content refers to text or other materials produced by AI tools, such as large language models or automated writing software.

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 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 a GAC-led 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, 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


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

Frequently asked questions


Q1. Can a freelance researcher submit an application?

Researchers with no particular institutional affiliation can apply. However, the competition is academic in nature and not a search for a contractor or a consultant.


Q1. Can I submit more than one application in the same year if I have more than one topic idea?

Yes, you can. However, you can only potentially win one award per year.

Proposal requirements

Q1. I am interested in proposing a policy brief unrelated to the themes listed in the IPIC call for proposals. Would you consider a proposal based on a different theme?

No. To be considered for an IPIC award, the policy proposal must be relevant to Global Affairs Canada’s work, and to at least one of the themes provided in the call for proposals.

Q2. Research: Will you consider a proposal involving the conduct of primary research? Are there any limitations on which methodology is used?  Is there an expectation that projects involve more than a literature/document review/synthesis?

Primary research, in which the researcher collects their own data for analysis, is not a requirement. If you wish to propose conducting primary research, carefully consider the feasibility of doing so, particularly given relatively short timelines noted in the call for proposals, accessibility of appropriate research subjects, and your institution’s research ethics requirements. Given time constraints, most IPIC policy briefs are supported by secondary research using reputable and properly cited sources.

Q3. What should I bear in mind as I prepare my proposal (no more than 750 words)? 

Proposal evaluators need enough information to understand why the issue should matter to policy makers and how you propose analysing it. You will also need to demonstrate your ability to gather relevant evidence and conduct unbiased analysis that would allow you to develop solutions in the subsequent policy brief if you are selected as one of the winners of the Challenge.

Q4. How will the proposals be evaluated?

Proposals will be evaluated by a 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 translate the idea into an informative and useful written policy brief and presentation.  A higher weighting will be awarded to proposals that explore a topic with an integrated and crosscutting approach, combining foreign, economic, and international assistance policy dimensions of the topic.   

Q5. Originality: Can the proposal relate to my current thesis topic or research program? Does the proposal need to build on the candidate's current/prior work in novel ways?

Yes, the proposal can be relevant to or build on your thesis topic or research program. If so, it must be adapted appropriately to ensure relevance to Global Affairs Canada’s work. 

Q6. Is a specific format preferred for the 750-word proposal (e.g. abstract, executive summary, short policy brief, etc.)?

There is no strict outline for the proposal. Elements that point to the feasibility and possible implementation of your proposal will be valuable. It is up to the researcher to use their own judgment and be mindful of the word count. 

Q7. Is it possible to consult policy briefs from last year’s IPIC?

Summaries of previous winners’ submissions can be found at: International Policy Ideas Challenge - 2022 Challenge winners.


Q1. What will be covered during training sessions?

As noted in the call for proposals, training will include two group sessions and two one-on-one coaching sessions with relevant subject-matter experts. You will learn more about Global Affairs Canada, conducting policy-relevant research, how to sharpen your written policy brief and your presentation, and more.

Q2. When will training take place?

Training will take place between summer and fall, 2024. Dates have yet to be determined. Efforts will be made to schedule sessions at times that work for a majority of winners.

Q3. Is the training component of the IPIC program optional?

No. The training is considered a highly valuable element of the IPIC program, which will help winners prepare high quality policy briefs and presentations and contribute positively to the winners’ professional development. All winners are expected to fully participate in the training sessions.

Other questions

Q1. Budget: Can the $4000 go towards research expenses? What about expenses related to publishing or preparing the brief in audio/visual formats?

The $4,000 is the award for being one of the winners of the International Policy Ideas Challenge and is contingent upon satisfactory completion and delivery of the research products.

Q2. May I use technical professionals available at our university to produce videos or other non-written products?

Yes, you may.

Q3. May I publish my IPIC proposal or policy paper after the current IPIC cycle has ended?

Yes. Applicants will not be restricted in publishing their own work after the Challenge but must acknowledge the support of the International Policy Ideas Challenge program funded by the Government of Canada (the exact wording of the acknowledgment statement will be provided to you). While the copyright will remain with the authors, Global Affairs Canada will retain a non-exclusive license for the use and distribution of their work supported by the award.

Q4. Are winners required to submit additional reports beyond the final brief?

No.  Winners are required to submit their final brief and present it to Government of Canada officials in the late fall (date TBD) at the Ideas Symposium.

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