Institute of Politics

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IOP Policy Challenges

Throughout the academic year, the Institute of Politics challenges UChicago students to propose solutions to major issues in local, national, and global politics.

Urban-Rural Policy Challenge

We're challenging students to create policy proposals to address challenges facing both urban and rural communities. The winning team will receive $500 per team member.

While politically divided, rural and urban areas both struggle with health care, child care and food access; an ongoing opioid crisis, and often, economic disinvestment. While the policy challenges are overlapping in rural and urban areas, policy solutions are often not. Lawmakers and nongovernmental organizations often draft policy that does not account for differences in population density, infrastructure, local governmental resources and access to capital that divide urban and rural regions, preventing statewide policies that work for all.

Acting as state lawmakers or a nongovernmental organization, develop a plan to address a single policy area that benefits both rural and urban communities within one of the following ten states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Texas. Your proposal must focus on one of the following policy areas: broadband expansion, child care access, food insecurity, health care access, hyper-local economic development, substance use disorder.

The contest is open to ALL STUDENTS and no prior policy background or coursework is required. Students will compete in teams of two to five participants and present proposals to a panel of experts.

Key Dates & Deadlines

  • Attend an info session at the IOP on February 22 at 2:30 p.m. CT to answer any questions you may have (optional and no registration is required). Snacks will be provided.

  • Register your team’s participation by Monday, March 4 at 11:59 p.m. CT. Only 15 teams will be selected to participate. Not all teams who register may make it to the first round of the competition, with mentors and judges helping ensure the strongest proposals make it to the pitch mixer.

  • Participate in competition mentor office hours (optional) between Tuesday, March 5 and Friday, March 22.

  • Submit your team’s proposals here by Sunday, March 24 at 11:59 p.m. CT.

  • Share your team’s slide deck (if there is one) with IOP staff by Wednesday,March 27 before 11:59 p.m. CT.

  • Attend and present at the pitch mixer on Thursday, March 28 at 5:00 p.m. CT. Three finalists will be named.

  • Finalists will present their proposals on Monday, April 1 at 5:00 p.m. CT. A winner will be named.

Past Challenges

Fall 2023 | Affordable Housing

In our fourth university-wide contest, we challenged students to present a plan on how they would improve housing affordability in a city or rural area of their choice.

Spring 2023 | World Hunger

The Institute of Politics and the Kiphart Center for Global Health and Social Development challenged students to present a plan to attack hunger anywhere around the globe – from conflict zones to your own college campus and anywhere in between – formed through their specific area of study or interest.

Winter 2023 | Rerouting: Public Transportation for All

The Institute of Politics and the Center for Effective Government joined forces for a university-wide contest soliciting student-generated policy solutions to fix Chicago’s transit system.

Fall 2022 | The $1.6 Trillion Question

The Institute of Politics teamed up with the Harris School of Public Policy for a contest soliciting student-generated policy solutions to the student-debt crisis.

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