Essay competition

Michael Wernick, Clerk of Privy Council, presents 2016-17 National Student Essay Competition Award to Hope Caldi
Michael Wernick, Clerk of Privy Council, presents 2016-17 National Student Essay Competition Award to Hope Caldi

Every year the Canada School of Public Service (CSPS), under the direction of a coordinating committee, coordinates the National Student Essay Competition. The coordinating committee includes representatives from the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC), CAPPA, and founding members from Dalhousie University and the University of Regina.

The competition is designed for graduate and post-graduate students to share their ideas for how to improve the Public Service of Canada or how to improve public-policy making and implementation more generally. The competition is usually launched in the spring, with papers being submitted before the end of the year. A winner is selected by March.

Previous competitions have invited students in fields such as public administration, international relations, public policy, business/management, health administration, law and journalism as well as disciplines in the social sciences, humanities and applied sciences to participate. The papers typically address various themes, such as:

  • public policy development and implementation
  • networked governance and collaborative arrangements
  • citizen engagement
  • delivery of public services
  • public management and leadership
  • improving workplace culture
  • communicating and identifying the role of the Federal Public Service to Canadians
  • private and public sectors working together for the benefit of Canadians

There are two prizes: the Grand Prize and the Public Choice Award. Winning the Grand Prize is a significant achievement: there are several rounds of adjudication, students make videos, participate in an online voting contest, and discuss their ideas via web-conferencing with a panel of senior public service executives. Finalists are announced with their papers posted on the IPAC website. The public is then able to vote on their favourite, and the paper with the most votes wins the the Public Choice Award.

Past Grand Prize Winners have been invited to attend the Manion Lecture in the National Capital Region (expenses paid).

For more details and to see past winners, visit the IPAC website at

Essay Competition Sponsors