Essays must compare the formation of religious freedom in one or more Southeast Asian countries (or Southeast Asia as a whole) with the formation of religious freedom in one or more countries in the West (or the West as a whole). The countries in Southeast Asia are: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam. Essays can discuss key socio-political factors, legal contexts, individual leaders, and/or major current and emerging issues and threats related to religious freedom in Southeast Asia and the West. Essays should identify examples of positive progress and also examples of erosion of religious and other freedoms both in Southeast Asia and the West, and the practical lessons that might be learned.


Essay Contest for Professionals:
Winner: USD $2,500
Runner-up: USD $1,500

Essay Contest for Students:
Winner: USD $1,000
Runner-up: USD $500

Submissions must comply with all Contest Rules. Essays will be judged on both content and style. In order to be competitive an essay must focus directly on the essay contest topic, and be clear, engaging, logically organized, and cogently argued. Essays will be evaluated by a panel of five experts: Jakob Tobing (Institute Leimena), Eugene Tan (Singapore Management University), Paul Marshall (Institute Leimena and Hudson Institute), Robert Joustra (Redeemer University College), and Dennis Hoover (Institute for Global Engagement).

* The deadline has been extended to July 1, 2016 *


Student Essay Contest:

    Essays submitted to the Student Contest must be between 3,000 and 5,000 words in length (inclusive of references)
  • A student entrant must be a 12th Grader, College Undergraduate, or Graduate Student.

Professional Essay Contest:

    Essays submitted to the Professional Contest must be between 5,000 and 7,000 words in length (inclusive of references).
  • A professional entrant should be employed full-time (in any field) and not enrolled as a full-time student in any college degree program

General Rules:

    The contest is strictly limited to entrants who are citizens of a Southeast Asian country (entrants need not be currently residing in their home country).
  • Employees of the Institute for Global Engagement, its board of directors, and their immediate family members are not eligible. Employees of Institut Leimena, its board of directors, and their immediate family members are not eligible.
  • Essays must be received via email no later than 11:59 PM (GMT +7) on July 1, 2016.
  • Essays are only accepted electronically as email attachments in Microsoft Word or PDF file format. Please send to
  • Essay submissions must be accompanied by an up-to-date CV, including current mailing address, email address, and phone number.
  • Contest administrators will endeavor to notify all entrants of contest results by September 1, 2016.
  • Only one essay per entrant may be submitted.
  • Essays must be original works, not previously published, in whole or in part.
  • Any degree or form of plagiarism will result in disqualification.
  • Essays should use citations sparingly. Essays must use the “Harvard” (author date) style for citations, and must include a Bibliography of Works Cited at the end.
  • Essays must not infringe on any third-party rights or intellectual property. Entrants agree to indemnify the Institute for Global Engagement for any claim, demand, judgment or other allegation arising from possible violation of someone’s trademark, copyright or other legally protected interest in any way in the entrant’s essay.
  • The decisions of the judges are final.
  • Prize winners agree to allow the Institute for Global Engagement to publish, at its sole discretion, their essays online and in The Review of Faith & International Affairs, and to either assign copyright or grant exclusive license to the Institute for Global Engagement.
  • First-place winners will also be invited to present their papers at an international conference on religion and law in Southeast Asia. The conference is tentatively set for December 2016 in Singapore; all travel expenses will be covered.
  • Winners will be solely responsible for any taxes and currency conversion fees.

Please forward all questions and inquiries to