Defining Leadership Essay Contest

Who can participate? Students enrolled at U.S. high schools and colleges/universities, including exchange students.

Why participate? This global education initiative features important history with lessons for today. Learn about the Middle East and Islamic culture through the legacy of humanitarian Emir Abdelkader (1808-1883). His powerful and non-threatening example of Islamic leadership in compassion and highest moral values counters stereotypes and inspires learning about cultural literacy, civility, tolerance, and understanding.

Sign up today to enter the essay contests. Explore models of ethical leadership, moral courage and humanitarian conduct. Essays are due before April 15, 2018.

Why is Emir Abdelkader important today? His life story with its “universal” message encourages building bridges of cultural understanding. It demonstrates that although cultures have differences, they share fundamental humanistic values. Respected from Missouri to Moscow to Mecca, Abdelkader was an Arab Muslim hero from Algeria and known as a courageous humanitarian, scholar, statesman, and warrior. He was admired by President Lincoln, Queen Victoria, Pope Pius IX and countless Muslims and non-Muslims from many nationalities, religions, and social classes. In 1846, an Iowa settlement was named “Elkader”; in 1860, he saved thousands of Christians in Damascus; and upon his death in 1883, The New York Times eulogized, “The nobility of his character won him the admiration of the world…He was one of the few great men of the century.” Emir Abdelkader is remembered as an esteemed humanitarian, ethical military leader, and religious scholar. His relevance for our global society today transcends culture and faith traditions.

Essay Contest Guidelines and Procedures

1) EDUCATORS: Become a mentor to guide one or more students or an entire classroom to encourage discussions.

2) STUDENTS: Identify your mentor for guidance then sign-up to participate. Submit essays any time before April 15, 2018.

3) Read, Research & Examine: Abdelkader’s life of struggle during peace, war, imprisonment, and exile. Resources include but are not limited to… Commander of the Faithful: The Life and Times of Emir Abdelkader (1808-1883) by John W. Kiser; The Compassionate Warrior by Elsa Marston; Emir Abdelkader: Hero and Saint of Islam by Ahmed Bouyerdene and more.

4) Write Essay: address all of the following points

  • Why does Emir Abdelkader’s life story and legacy deserve remembering today?
  • What is relevant for our global society? What is relevant to your own life?
  • Reflect on Abdelkader’s education as compared to your own education.

5) Essay Requirements:

  • 1200-1500 words
  • Microsoft Word or PDF
  • 1.5 line spacing
  • Times New Roman/12 pt.
  • First/Last Name on each page

6) Click “Submit Essay” A confirmation notice will be sent upon receiving the essay.

7) Essay Deadline: Submit essays any time before April 15, 2018

8) Questions? Please contact

Submit Essay

U.S. Naval Institute Leadership Essay Contest 2017

The U.S. Naval Institute invites entries for Leadership Essay Contest 2017 with the winning amount up to $50000. Essay contests have been central to the work of the Naval Institute for more than 130 years. They directly fulfil the Institute’s educational mission by encouraging writing on issues of concern to the Sea Services. They provide thought-provoking articles that spur ongoing discussion of these same issues, not only in Naval Institute media, print and digital but also in other leading defence and national security forums.

The Challenge

Leadership is a much-discussed topic, hence this contest will address it from an unusual slant, first by confining itself to the views of junior officers, second by encouraging authors to answer questions along the following lines:

  • What does leadership look like to the led? What does it look like from below? From beside?
  • What qualities and characteristics define leadership for those who are themselves young leaders who aspire to command?
  • Can leadership be defined…or only recognized?
  • Can leadership be taught…or only learned?
  • How can leadership be nurtured?
  • What does character have to do with leadership?
  • What is the role of mentors?
  • What were the great naval leaders saying about leaders and leadership when they themselves were junior officers?
  • What other lessons can be drawn from naval history?
  • Why do so many people believe their experience as a naval officer changed their lives – whether they continued to serve on active duty or not?


  • Only junior officers, O-4 (LCDR/MAJ) and below, from the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Coast Guard will be eligible to participate.
  • Essay length must be 3,000 words maximum (excludes footnotes/endnotes/sources).

Selection Process

The Proceedings staff members will evaluate every essay and screen the top essays to a special Essay Selection Committee of at least six members who will include two members of the Naval Institute’s Editorial Board and four subject experts.  All essays will be judged in the blind — i.e., the Proceedings staff members and judges will not know the authors of the essays.


  • First Prize: $5,000
  • Second Prize: $2,500
  • Third Prize: $1,500
  • The winners will be recognised at West 2018.

Official Link

Deadline: 30th September 2017


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