December 11, 2017—“Pushing Against the Populist Tide: How Political Reform Can Protect the Liberal International Order,” by Samuel Seitz of Georgetown University, has won the 2017 Foreign Affairs Student Essay Competition in partnership with the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. Seitz’s winning essay was selected from a field of nearly three hundred entries that examined whether populism poses a threat to the international order. The essay is available here.

Honorable mentions were also given to Graham Kennis of the United States Air Force Academy and Mock Yi Jun of the London School of Economics and Political Science.

The competition offers tomorrow’s leaders the opportunity to demonstrate innovative thinking on the issues that shape their world. The selection committee included Foreign Affairs’ Editor Gideon Rose, Executive Editor Daniel Kurtz-Phelan, and Deputy Managing Editor Justin Vogt, and Khong Yuen Foong, the Li Ka Shing Professor in Political Science at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

Foreign Affairs is committed to encouraging and promoting a new generation of informed observers and analysts of global issues—a mission we share with our partners at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy,” said Rose. “One notable aspect of this year’s top entries was the way in which they addressed common, long-held assumptions about democratic values and the liberal international order that, in years past, might have gone unexamined.”

“Despite the fact that populism is a nebulous concept, Seitz succeeds in giving it content and meaning; his analysis clarifies the danger it poses and his proposed solutions are spot on,” Khong.

Seitz, who will graduate in 2019, writes that “absent shared support for liberal values, multilateral institutions, pluralistic societies, and free trade, much of the institutional and normative glue holding the post-war order together will begin to dissolve.” But, he argues, by “developing and promoting a meaningful reform agenda within the framework of the current liberal order, centrists can signal to discontented voters that they take voters’ concerns seriously and plan to improve the system from the inside.”


About Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy

Part of the National University of Singapore, the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP) was established in 2004 with the mission of educating and inspiring current and future generations of leaders to raise the standards of governance in Asia, improve the lives of its people and contribute to the transformation of the region. With over 2,600 alumni spanning 89 countries, the School’s unique Asian focus allows students to form a network of future leaders and experience public policy education in a distinctively global environment. In addition to master’s and PhD programs, the LKYSPP offers high quality customized executive programs that cater to the needs of time-constrained senior managers and professionals, with the aim of delivering creative solutions to real management and leadership challenges. The School has a number of research centers and institutes that contribute both to scholarly inquiry and policymaking, and frequently plays host to distinguished speakers and visiting scholars. For more information about the School, visit


About Foreign Affairs

Published by the Council on Foreign Relations, Foreign Affairs is a multifaceted media brand that includes print, digital, audio, and live events. Instead of breaking news, Foreign Affairs breaks the news down, going in-depth with experts in policy, science, and business to bring their readers thoughtful perspectives on today’s important global issues.

As part of its commitment to encouraging the next generation of scholars, Foreign Affairs recently announced a student sponsorship program providing academic institutions with unlocked online access to the magazine and its ninety-five-year archive. Each fifty-cent donation lets a student read for free, so a gift of fifty dollars brings Foreign Affairs to a class of one hundred. Donations may be made to the program here.

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