Michael Kenny, Director of the Bennett Institute, shares his thoughts on what makes a winning Bennett Prospect Prize entry.by Michael Kenny / October 26, 2020 / Leave a comment
The main aim of the Bennett Prospect Prize is to showcase the thinking of some of our most able early career policy researchers’ ideas on some of the existential challenges of our turbulent times. The scale of the prize – £10,000 – reflects our commitment to bringing some of the most important findings and insights generated by rigorous research within different disciplines to the attention of a wide, policy-engaged audience.
The question for this year’s prize is: “Is it possible to govern well in the age of populism?”
The nature of the threats posed by populism to representative democracy has been extensively debated. And now, in various countries, populist leaders are in governing positions, and have been required to handle the COVID-19 outbreak and deal with its enormous economic consequences.
Equally, what good governance now means for democratically elected governments and leaders operating in volatile political environments, and under pressure from populist attacks from across the ideological spectrum, is one of the key political questions of the age. In this context, what does ‘governing well’ mean? Do the core goals and techniques of governance need to be re-set? Are there aspects and features of populism that should be harnessed by those governing from the political mainstream?
We invite short essays or films which explore some of these issues in new, imaginative and accessible ways.
What makes a particularly good entry to a competition like the Bennett Prospect Prize is a question we are often asked.
Whilst there is no single formula we would offer in response, these are some reflections on the pieces we liked most from previous competition entries:
The best entries were written in a concise, clear and jargon-free fashion. The prize has been established to support the effective communication of ideas, concepts and evidence, so make sure that this is reflected in the manner of your writing. Establish clearly at the outset what is the problem which you are exploring, and make sure that you convey how your own analysis brings a different insight or perspective on it. Ensure your essay has a beginning, a middle and an end. It’s nearly always the case that the most effective pieces of writing have a structure which supports the development of a compelling argument. Write in your own style but avoid the soapbox. Remember that you…