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The Geneva Challenge: Advancing Development Goals Contest 2016

The Geneva Challenge: Advancing Development Goals Contest 2016

Eager to stimulate reflection and innovation on development from diverse disciplinary and contextual perspectives and with the generous support of Ambassador Jenö Staehelin, the Graduate Institute is launching the third edition of the Advancing Development Goals Contest, an international competition for graduate students.

The idea is to gather contributions that are both theoretically grounded and offer pragmatic solutions to a relevant international development problem stemming from an interdisciplinary collaboration from anywhere in the world. We invite teams of students to:

  • identify a challenge stemming from urbanisation;
  • construct an interdisciplinary analysis on how it affects different aspects of development in a specific (but transposable) context;
  • propose innovation at the policy, practice, process or technology levels turning the challenge into development opportunity.


The Challenges of Urbanisation


The Graduate Institute Geneva


  • All shortlisted submissions selected by the ASC are published and promoted (if authorized by the teams) on the Geneva Challenge website, providing visibility to the teams and their work.
  • All members of the 3 finalist teams will be invited to come to Geneva for an oral presentation where they will defend their proposals and answer questions from the jury and from the public.
  • At least 2 members from each finalist team should confirm availability to come to Geneva for the oral presentation of their submission. Lack of reaction to the invitation to come to Geneva after 7 days of the communication of the results will be considered as withdrawal from the competition.
  • The finalists will also be present at an awards ceremony where the results of the contest will be announced preceded by a high level keynote speech on The Challenges of Urbanization.
  • Travel expenses such as flights, visa requests and accommodation are covered by the organization of the contest for this purpose.
  • The presentations and submissions of the finalists will be promoted for information in relevant publications and international organization for a, creating professional networking opportunities.
  • The winning project will receive a cash prize of CHF 10,000 (ten thousand Swiss Francs or approx. US$11’000). The second place will receive CHF 5,000 CHF and the third, CHF 2,500 CHF.


Registration: 25th May 2016 before midnight – Central Europe Time (CET)

Submission: 31st July 2016 Central Europe Time (CET).


  • Participants of the ADG contest 2016 must be enrolled graduate students at the time of their registration for the contest.
  • We consider “graduate students” to be anyone enrolled in a post bachelor level university program with a maximum duration of 2 (two) years, or anyone who can prove to be studying towards acquiring a masters level degree.
  • Participants must gather in teams of 3 (three) or 5 (five) graduate students, who are able to contribute from at least 2 (two) different disciplinary perspectives to the submitted analysis.
  • No participation on an individual basis will be admitted.
  • The participants can be enrolled in a same graduate program, collaborate with students from other programs from the university they enrolled in or coordinate with students from different universities and institutions worldwide.
  • All team members must provide a scanned copy of a document that serves as proof of enrollment as a graduate student before the registration of the team can be confirmed and validated.
  • Any official document issued by the Academic Institute the student is affiliated to is accepted as proof of enrollment as long as it contains:
  • The name of the student;
  • The program he/she is enrolled in;
  • An issuance date up to three months before the registration date or
  • Validity beyond the registration date.
  • Exceptionally, we might accept the registration of people who are transitioning into graduate studies, as long as they have already been accepted in a graduate student program at the time of the registration.
  • An online registration form will be made available from 17th December 2015 at
  • Each group must choose a team leader who will be the main (but note sole) focus point for communication with the organization of the contest.
  • The registration form must be correctly filled in with the information required of all the participants.
  • Before the registration deadline, the proof of enrollment for all the team members must be sent to:
  • Submissions must be sent by email to:
  • Entries will have a maximum length of 8000 (eight thousand) words including all notes and references and must be written in English or French.
  • The submissions will combine theoretical analyses, creativity, critical thinking on technical assistance, capacity building and on the agency of development.
  • Entries must be original. All long listed works will go through a background check before being forwarded to the Jury members as semi-finalists of the ADG contest 2016.
  • The entries will be evaluated in three phases and by two distinct panels.
  • In the first phase, all the valid submissions will be evaluated by the Academic Steering Committee (ASC), an interdisciplinary committee of professors who will look into the compatibility of the submissions with the material criteria of the contest.
  • Teams who do not provide proof of enrollment for all members and/or do not submit their entry before the deadline will be automatically disqualified and their entries will not be evaluated by the ASC.
  • In the second phase (semi-finals), 8-12 submissions selected by the ASC as representing the best match with the contest’s design and criteria will be forwarded to an independent high level Jury Panel composed of policy makers and academics, young talents and experienced professionals, who will select the competition’s finalists.
  • In the third and last phase of evaluations, three finalists will be invited by the organization of the contest to publicly present and answer questions about their entries in Geneva. In this occasion, the Jury Panel will classify the teams in 1st, 2nd and 3rd places and the prizes will be delivered in an awards ceremony preceded by a high level keynote speech.
  • Unfortunately, due to a high number of submissions and the multiple activities in which the evaluators of the ASC and the Jury Panel are engaged in, the ADG contest organizers cannot offer personalized feedback on the submissions.
  • The decisions of the ASC and of the Jury Panel are not subject to appeal.
  • The ADG contest offers an opportunity for master students to use theoretical tools to frame a development issue and offer a creative, feasible and potentially efficient solution to address the identified vulnerability. Thus the ASC and the Jury Panel will be looking for the following characters in the proposals:
  • The relevance of the research question proposed by the team. It refers to submissions necessarily being able to identify a real world problem, not just an interesting research question, thus transposing the disconnect between academic and policy challenges.
  • The entry must display analytical rigor and academic competence in the choice of sources, the structure of the arguments and in the ability to discuss, question and build upon previous perspectives on the topic (critical approach).
  • Practicality of solutions and feasibility imbedded within the proposals. There should be development on why and how the idea presented is efficient to addressing the issue raised by the team.
  • All submissions must be original and especially developed for participation in the 2016 ADG contest. Originality here implies that significative sections of other works should not be reused in the submission to TGC. Entries that have already participated in other contests will not be accepted. However ideas may be transposed from a different context and adapted to the specific problem the students decide to focus on.
  • The outreach of the solution, that is, the amount of people that will directly or indirectly benefit from the project is not an evaluation criteria as long as the solution is potentially transposable (scalable) to similar situations.
  • Regarding the finalist presentations in Geneva, the Jury will be looking into interalia:
  • The clarity of the oral presentations.
  • The perspective of a practical linkage with the beneficiaries of the action proposed.
  • The quality of the response to questions from the Jury and from the public.
  • The oral presentation should ensure that the students do their work themselves but will not be crucial in defining ranking the finalists.
  • The finalists will not attend each other’s presentations, so as to allow similar questions to be asked to each team and to avoid questioning the decision on the final ranking.


For more information, visit the official website or send an e-mail:


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