CFTNI Announces its 2021 Student Essay Contest


The Center for the National Interest is proud to announce its 2021 Student Essay contest! Please see below for details and for information about how to participate:


United States foreign policy is in a transitional period.  The principle that has animated our approach to the world since the end of the Cold War – the notion that U.S. security and prosperity are inextricably linked to liberalizing the governance of other nations – has failed.  In explaining his rationale for our withdrawal from Afghanistan, President Biden described it as “ending an era of major military operations to remake other countries.”    

But if remaking other countries, whether by force or some other means, will no longer be the raison d’etre of America’s foreign policy, what concept should guide our new approach to the world?  How can a narrower definition of U.S. national interests be successful in a multipolar world that is more deeply interconnected and interdependent?  How can a Realist approach be reconciled with the moral and political values that Americans have long held dear? How can a new approach to the world satisfy the practical needs and desires of America’s middle class? What role should military force play in our efforts to deal with peer or near peer nuclear powers, such as China and Russia? 

Eligibility Requirements for the Essay: 

Undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students who are currently attending institutions in the US are welcome to participate.  

Requirements for submissions.  

Submissions must respond to the prompt and adhere to the following formatting requirements: 

  • 12pt Times New Roman Font 
  • 1inch margins 
  • Double Spaced 
  • No more than 1500 words.  
  • Sources should be hyperlinked, rather than footnoted when possible.  

Submissions that are longer than 1500 words will not be accepted.  

Submissions are due by 11:59 pm Eastern Time on December 20, 2021. Strong essays will present a clear and well-articulated perspective that is supported by thorough argumentation, knowledge of the subject matter, good writing, and the content will be original.  

Essays may be submitted using this form here, which is also linked below.   

The Prizes: 

The writer of the first prize winning essay will receive $250 and their essay will be featured on The National Interest’s digital edition of the magazine and be promoted on social media.  

The writer of the second prize winning essay will receive $100 and their essay will be featured on The National Interest’s digital edition of the magazine and be promoted on social media. 

Additional Details: 

  1. SPONSOR: The sponsor of the 2021 Student Essay Competition is the Center for the National Interest.  
  1. ELIGIBILITY: Contest entrants must be legal residents of the United States and be aged eighteen years or older. Employees, immediate family members, and household members (whether or not related) to one another are not eligible to enter. Anyone serving as a judge for the contest is ineligible. The contest is void outside of the United States. The contest is subject to all Law.  
  1. HOW TO ENTER: To be eligible for the contest you must: 
  1. Before the end of the contest period, submit an essay of no more than 1,500 words in length addressing the prompt above.  

To be eligible to enter, you must be enrolled in an accredited post-secondary institution or program listed in the U.S. Department of Education’s most recent database. No person may submit more than one entry. Attempting to submit multiple entries will result in your  disqualification from the contest.  

  1. All applicants must include proof of enrollment with their essay submission, which can be verified by obtaining an official university transcript or a signed letter on university letterhead stating that you are enrolled for the 2021-2022 academic year. 
  1. PROHIBITED CONTENT: By entering the contest you agree not to create or submit an essay that: 
  1. Infringes upon any patent, trademark, trade secret, copyright, or other proprietary or property rights of any party;  
  1. May be deemed as electioneering communications, intervention in a political or electoral campaign or lobbying; 
  1. Unlawfully threatens, harasses, or abuses another person or uses obscene, vulgar, harmful, tortious, defamatory, libelous, false, racially hateful, ethnically hateful, religiously hateful, or otherwise hateful language in any other way objectionable;  
  1. Violates any law.  

The sponsor reserves the right to disqualify any contest entries that violate the above conditions, or for any other reason at any time without prior notice.  

  1. JUDGING AND SELECTION OF PRIZE WINNERS: All contest entries will be based on the following criteria: 
  1. The essay clearly articulates an opinion 
  1. Demonstrates knowledge of the subject matter 
  1. Offers compelling arguments supporting the opinion 
  1. Clear and coherent use of all faculties of the English Language  
  1. Demonstrates creativity and originality  
  1. PRIZES: On January 21, 2022, the first and second prize winners will be announced. The First Prize Winner shall receive the following prize: 
  1. $250 and their essay will be featured on The National Interest’s digital edition of the magazine and be promoted on social media. 

The Second Prize Winner shall receive the following prize: 

  1. $100 and their essay will be featured on The National Interest’s digital edition of the magazine and be promoted on social media. 
  1. OWNERSHIP OF YOUR CONTEST ENTRY: By submitting your contest entry you hereby relinquish, grant, transfer, assign, and deliver to the sponsor all right, title, and interest of every kind and nature whatsoever that you have in the essay you write as part of your contest entry, including the copyright and all other intellectual property rights thereto. As a condition of receiving your prize, you may be required to execute additional documentation such as copyright assignments to sponsor of your contest essay. 
  1. DISPUTES:  By participating, entrants, release sponsor and its affiliates, subsidiaries, members, directors, officer, employees, and agents from any and all liability with respect to all aspects of the contest including all losses, damage, or bodily injury resulting from participation in this contest, and the possession, acceptance, or misuse of prizes.   
  1. INTERNET: If for any reason this contest is not capable of running as planned due to an infection by a computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures, or any other causes beyond the control of the sponsor that corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, or proper conduct of this contest, the sponsor reserves the right at its sole and absolute discretion to cancel, terminate, modify, or suspend the contest. The sponsor assumes no responsibility for any error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operation or transmission, communications line failure, or theft, destruction, or unauthorized access to or alteration of entries. The sponsor is not responsible for any problems or technical malfunctions of any telephone network or telephone lines, computer online systems, servers, or providers, computer equipment, software, failure of any email or entry to be received by the sponsor due to technical problems, human error or traffic congestion on the internet or at any website, or any combination thereof, including any injury or damage to your or any other person’s computer relating to or resulting from participating in this contest or downloading any materials in this contest. 
  1. USE OF INFORMATION: The information that you provide in connection with the contest may be used by the sponsor to inform you about related opportunities and developments involving charitable or educational topics that the sponsor thinks may be of interest to you. 
  1. GENERAL: By entering this contest or accepting the Prize you agree to: the sponsor’s policies, these contest rules, and recognize that the decisions of the sponsor are final and binding in all respects; giving consent for the use of your name, voice, picture, and likeness for charitable, educational, advertising, and promotional purposes related to the Sponsor or its contests in any medium throughout the world in perpetuity without additional compensation unless prohibited by law. The sponsor reserves the right to correct typographical, clerical, or printing errors in any contest material. The sponsor reserves the right to prohibit any person from participating in the contest at its sole and absolute discretion. The sponsor reserves the right to cancel, terminate, modify, or suspend the contest at its sole and absolute discretion.  

If you have any additional questions about the contest, please send an email to

Submission Form Link: