Henry Owen Memorial Award Essay Contest 2024

Bretton Woods Committee  | Thu, Mar 14, 2024


The Bretton Woods Committee extends an invitation to graduate students within or nearby the Washington, D.C. area to participate in the Henry Owen Memorial Award Essay Contest. As this year marks the 80th Anniversary of the Bretton Woods institutions, it is a crucial period for reflection on the international financial architecture.

After eight decades of historic global growth, financial stability, and poverty reduction ushered in by the Bretton Woods institutions, the Bretton Woods Institutions are operating in a new landscape. The world faces pressing challenges - from the climate crisis to widespread debt distress and geopolitical tensions -requiring the IMF, World Bank, and other multilateral institutions to evolve.

In the context of the 80th anniversary, we invite students to share their perspectives on the necessary new governance models, tools, and ideas to better equip international financial institutions – specifically the World Bank, IMF, and/or regional multilateral development banks. These institutions are currently facing a spectrum of challenges, including the climate crisis, widespread debt distress, conflict, and fragility. This occurs against a backdrop of increasing geopolitical tensions and receding multilateralism.

The core question is: How can the Bretton Woods institutions effectively deliver and enhance policy outcomes on a global scale, addressing new challenges while staying true to their founding missions?


Please submit your essays here by March 22nd.


Essay Length: Essays should be an original work in English of no more than 750 words

Deadline: March 22, 2024

Eligibility: Graduate-level students currently registered at accredited colleges and universities within the U.S.  

Criteria: Judges will consider whether an essay: 
- Demonstrates a command of the complexities of the topic 
- Presents a focused and well-reasoned analysis of the topic 
- Displays forward-thinking and creativity on ways to address the topic 

The Award includes: 
- First place winner will receive a monetary prize of $1,000 
- If the evaluation committee chooses to select a second-place winner(s), dependent on quality of submissions, each second-place winner will receive a monetary prize of $500.  
- Winners will have the opportunity to attend the Bretton Woods Committee Spring Summit, to be held in April 2024 in Washington, D.C. 
- Top essays will be published on the Committee’s website and shared with Committee members and friends via quarterly newsletter 

To apply: please submit your essay of no more than 750 words by March 22. 

All entries must include a separate cover page with author’s name, contact information, school, and expected degree information. Name, school, and contact information should not be visible on the other pages of the essay. Please number each page of essay. One submission per person. 

Failure to comply with application processes and requirements may result in disqualification from the contest. Students related to Bretton Woods Committee officers or staff are not eligible. 

The Henry Owen Memorial Award honors Bretton Woods Committee co-founder Henry Owen, and hopes to inspire new generations of thoughtful young leaders to follow Ambassador Owen’s example as both a scholar and diplomat. As Ambassador for Economic Summits under President Jimmy Carter, Henry Owen organized many of the economic summits in the 1970s which came to shape modern international financial and economic institutions, and he was an important force behind the creation of the Trilateral Commission. 

This Award has been made possible thanks to the generous contributions of Bretton Woods Committee members, friends, and the Owen family. 

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