Graduate Research Awards for Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation

The Graduate Research Awards for Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-proliferation (GRA) programme was initiated in 2003 by Dr. Jennifer Allen Simons, President of The Simons Foundation, in partnership with the International Security Research and Outreach Programme (ISROP) of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) (now Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD)).  The primary objective of the Awards is to enhance Canadian graduate level scholarship on non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament (NACD) issues.

Since its inception, the Graduate Research Awards programme has provided over $240,000.00 in scholarships to Canadian graduate students working on policy-relevant NACD issues and has helped to encourage a new generation of young scholars dedicated to further expanding their knowledge and expertise on these critical issues.

The original format of the programme offered three Doctoral Research Awards of $5,000.00 and four Master's Research Awards of $2,500.00 each year to support research, writing and fieldwork leading to the completion of a major research paper or dissertation proposal on an issue related to disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation.  For the 2010-2011 GRA competition, The Simons Foundation doubled the funding available for the awards with the intention of doubling the number of students able to participate, which allowed ISROP to develop a new and innovative format for the GRA consultations held at DFAIT headquarters in Ottawa.  Instead of having the successful applicants make presentations to DFAIT officials on a NACD issue of their choosing, the programme is now structured to consist of a series of debates on timely issues.  

Following an initial review of applications, up to 16 candidates are short-listed to continue to the next phase of the competition and assigned one of four debate topics.  Applicants are required to research and write, individually and independently, a 1,000 word position paper arguing their assigned position on the subject.  The eight students who make the strongest argument in support of their position, as determined by an expert review panel, are selected to receive a Graduate Research Award of $3,000.00 and are required to defend their position in person at the GRA Debates held at DFAIT headquarters in Ottawa.  The students deemed to have made the most effective arguments in support of their position at the Debates also receive an additional monetary award.

The GRA Debates provide an unique opportunity for exchange among departmental officials, Canadian opinion-leaders and young leaders and the next generation of experts in the NACD field. Officials of the International Security and Intelligence Bureau of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD) attend the Debates and, each year, DFATD hosts a working lunch in honour of the GRA recipients.