“Education is a human right with immense power to transform. On its foundation rest the cornerstones of freedom, democracy and sustainable human development.”
Prosperity of the Commons International (PCI) takes a human-focused, data-driven approach to regional development and optimizing the commons for the people. Our mission is to transform capitalism and the management and utilization of the commons to maximize individual and community prosperity while ensuring long-term ecological sustainability, successful economic expansion, and just and equitable wealth creation. "Prosperity" is a human-centric concept that refers to the holistic value of the Commons of which sustainably managed natural resources are a fundamental component. We are working toward a world in which human and capital systems generate moral outcomes that optimize prosperity and security in harmony with socio-ecological sustainability for current and future generations.
To accomplish our mission, we are leading a global movement to make this prosperity-centric development model the default global development paradigm. To support this movement, we are launching PCI Prosperity Prize writing competitions around the world for students, stakeholders, community members, and professionals to generate analyses of the impacts of recent and ongoing regional development efforts, especially as these outcomes relate to public goods and services or the use, management, and ownership of the commons. These competitions seek to create an enabling discourse amongst youth, scholars, and civil society about the challenges towards achieving sustainable and equitable development.
Through this competition, we are asking a respondent or team of respondents to critically review the impact and effectiveness of development projects completed in the last 10 years or that are currently ongoing. For example, these may include projects that seek to build resilience of coastal communities, environmental conservation, water or power development, waste treatment, ecotourism infrastructure, or the use of the commons through extraction (e.g., fisheries, mining, forestry), etc. The fundamental questions to be addressed to assess any development project’s impact on prosperity include: What are the impacts on labor? Do industries operating development projects truly increase or decrease the economic equity and prosperity of the people affected? Are there appropriate governance systems in place to ensure development projects are managed for the benefit of the commons over the long term? What is the economic and environmental sustainability of the effort and does it generate a dynamic and scalable socio-ecological sustainability? Essentially, what has been achieved, at what cost, and for the benefit of what group?
Analyses will be submitted to Prosperity of the Commons International. PCI will have the exclusive right to publish the analyses with credit to the authors and to showcase the analyses received in PCI outreach and education materials. PCI will use the analyses to educate our partner organizations on the impacts of the current development paradigm and in our marketing efforts for the global movement toward prosperity-centric development.
PCI is launching the first Prosperity Prize writing competition across two regions:
Latin America and the Caribbean
These regions have unique development histories yet are similar in that economic and regional development has often led to the extraction of wealth from local communities. The PCI Prosperity Prize encourages individuals and teams to reflect critically on the results of development in their regions.
There are two categories of eligible entrants: Undergraduate/Community Level and Graduate/Organizational level. At each level individuals or teams may apply to the competition. Volunteers and those who have not completed an undergraduate degree should apply at the Undergraduate/Community level. Graduate students, professors, and leaders from non-profit, civil society, business, government, and similar organizations should apply at the Graduate/Organizational level. PCI will include applications in the Graduate/Organizational level if we feel it is appropriate.
Essays must be submitted in English
Essays must be completely original. Plagiarism or the use of previously published material will result in disqualification.
Between 2500 – 3000 words for Undergraduate/Community level and between 3500 - 4000 words for Graduate/Organizational level, excluding references
Minimum of 20 references for Undergraduate/Community level and a minimum of 40 references for Graduate/Organizational level
Times New Roman, 12 points; 1.5 line spacing
Harvard style formatting
Please include a cover page on your submission with your full name(s), location, institution/employment organization if you are working, role, course of study if you are a student, level of education, age, contact details, any outside parties you received crucial advice from in writing your essay, and the level of the competition to which you are applying.
Individuals and teams should address all aspects of the following guidelines to the best of their ability.
Describe the region in which the development project is/was active, including geography and demographics.
Describe a development effort that was completed in the last 10 years or that is happening now, e.g. Blue Growth projects that seek to build resilience of coastal communities, Green Growth projects to ensure local resource extraction while preserving natural resources, corporate social responsibility, carbon-neutrality, circular economy, etc.
Describe the project’s intended purpose and whether its impact focus is human, environment, infrastructure, other, or some combination.
Identify the stakeholders involved.
Describe the actual impact of the development effort, whether it achieved/is achieving its intended goals or not, and whether it had a positive or negative impact on the following:
labor conditions in the area
the financial and physical health of individuals and families and their access to basic resources
the quality of basic community infrastructure and public goods (e.g. water treatment, energy production, waste disposal, etc.)
the natural environment, including the environment beyond the intended primary impact, if data is available
the community's capacity for self-determination and governance
Describe whether the project increased or decreased the productive output of the community and the commons.
Describe the wealth generated by the development and who owns that wealth.
Specifically address whether ownership of natural resources, basic infrastructure, and major wealth-generating assets were privatized and/or extracted.
Describe who currently owns the legal equity generated in the project.
Describe whether access to the commons resources was increased or decreased.
Summarize the above findings and their impact implications.
Essays will be evaluated on the following considerations:
Clarity of the description and analysis of the development effort
Critical analysis of the development effort and its ongoing effects, including intended and unintended impacts, both positive and negative
Clarity of the description of the wealth created by the development effort and the ownership of that wealth
Effective use of multiple sources and types of data and related research
Quality of the writing (including in-text citations and complete reference list)
All applications will be reviewed based on the above criteria. The five top essays will be chosen as finalists in each competition category. The finalists will receive feedback on their essays from the competition judges and have an opportunity to improve and resubmit their essays. The judges will then select the 1st place and Runner-up winners in each category. All evaluation decisions are final and based on the opinions of the judges.
No late or incomplete submissions will be considered.
In each competition category there will be three prizes awarded to the winning individuals or teams. Prize amounts have been determined in relation to the value of the US dollar and the cost of education in these regions.
Winners will also have their essays showcased on the PCI website, in our partner education material, and in our marketing efforts for the global movement toward prosperity-centric development.
Fill out the form below to join the Prize Competition. You will receive an email on more detailed instructions for submitting your essay as well as regular updates on the Competition.
Future PCI Prize competitions will go beyond encouraging critical analyses of development to encouraging proposals for prosperity-centric development that maximizes individual and community prosperity while ensuring long-term ecological sustainability, successful economic expansion, and just and equitable wealth creation. Future Prizes will lead to the opportunity for investment and support for high potential development proposals.
If you have questions about the Prosperity Prize, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. To ensure fairness, all questions about the Prosperity Analysis guidelines, the Evaluation criteria, or any questions seeking advice on writing an excellent essay will be shared with everyone who joins the competition. Only ask questions the answers to which you are willing to have shared with all applicants.