What do you believe is or will be a significant environmental issue in the coming years?

Get your pencils sharpened and let us know for your chance to win money and be published online!

Contest Rules

  • The contest is open to all undergraduate students enrolled in the Faculty of Environment AND any student from any other Faculty who is currently enrolled in a course offered by the Faculty of Environment.
  • In a short Op-Ed or Policy Paper, you must make a case for what they believed is or will be a significant environmental issue in the coming years.
  • Submissions should have a maximum word count of 1000 words, with in-text hyperlink citations.
  • Submissions will be judged blind.
  • Check back on this page for the submission site in February. 


  • Thursday, March 15: Deadline for student submissions at MIDNIGHT! (Submission site to open later.)
  • Thursday, March 29: Short list of students (up to 15) will be eligible for enrolment in a professional writing workshop with Robyn Smith, the editor-in-chief of The Tyee.
  • TBC: Robyn Smith will teach participants how to write a strong, throught-provoking Op-Ed in a one-day workshop.
  • Monday, April 30: Deadline for revised final Op-Ed or Policy Paper submissions.
  • Monday, May 14: Judges anounce the winners.
  • May - June: Winners will be published on the Faculty of Environment's website and may be published in The Tyee, as well.

Writing for publication, whether in academic, peer reviewed journals or social media platforms, is rapidly changing. More than ever, concise, fact-based writing must cut through the plethora of misinformation that congests social media.

We know you are looking for opportunities for you, our students, to meaningfully share your innovative ideas, questions and theories with audiences beyond your course instructors and peers; this opportunity to write for a wider audience can transform your course-assigned essays from a single use, throw away activity, to a more meaningful engagement experience that links ideas with readers.

So, while you are still developing your research, writing and critical thinking skills, you could gain even greater acumen in all these domains by having the opportunity to be mentored by a professional editor who will share her professional techniques and methods in a one-day workshop and provide you with access to that much wider audience. 

I invite you to take part in this year's writing contest; to engage in community-based learning while also contributing to the public discourse on important environmental issues such as climate change, ecological restoration, water, food and energy security, and natural resource management.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Joanna Ashworth
Teaching Fellow, Faculty of Environment

From 2017's Participants

“It was wonderful to hear directly from an editor who frequently needs to make tough decisions about what to publish. The Tyee's Editor in Chief shared many valueable insights about the role of the op-ed in public discourse as well as practical writing techniques.” 

–Christine Leclerc, first year Physical Geography (Hons.)


“I think [this was] a fantastic way to allow the participants to remember why they are in the Faculty of Environment. It allows them to remember their passions and why they should continue doing what they're doing.” 

–Fauzi Nisha, recent Environmental Science graduate


“The value of this contest in my opinion is to encourage undergrads to share their ideas and get published, I think there is a major lack of good writers in modern society. Another major value of this contest was the workshop and the personal feedback, I felt very lucky to be a part of it and meet Robyn and learn from her.” 

–Lydia Dickinson, third year Global Environmental Systems


“I thought [the contest] would be a great opportunity to practice writing for a non-academic audience while also spreading awareness about an issue that is important to me.” 

–Greer Vanderbyl, fourth year, Archaeology (Hons.)


The Tyee, established in 2003, is a well-respected, solutions-focused, digital native news site that publishes news, reviews and commentary not typically covered by BC and Canada's mainstream media. They aim to inform and enliven the democratic conversation necessary to improve environmental, economic and social conditions and are committed to engaging and mentoring students as part of their educational mandate.

Questions or Comments?

Please contact Joanna Ashworth <jashwort@sfu.ca>.