Info for High Schools

Academic WorldQuest™, a flagship WACA program in its 19th year in the 2020-2021 season, is a fun, friendly, and powerful way for high school students to learn about international affairs. Nearly 5,000 students compete in AWQ contests organized by 50 World Affairs Councils hosts in their states. Prepare yourselves for the increasingly interconnected and complex world of the 21st century and show what you know!

Info for Council Hosts | Info for Sponsors | AWQ Endowment

2021 Academic WorldQuest National Competition

The 2020-2021 AWQ Study Guide is released! (Note: The linked AWQ Study Guide was updated Mon., Nov. 9)

The Carlos and Malú Alvarez 2021 Academic WorldQuest National Competition is scheduled for April 16-17. Please check back regularly for announcements, updates, and resources as the 2020-2021 AWQ season launches Fall 2020.

**COVID-19 Update: WACA is carefully monitoring the ongoing pandemic situation along with local and national safety guidelines. Guidance is forthcoming about whether local competition and the 2021 National Competition will be held virtually or in-person. 

Pledge Your AWQ Team Today!

Nancy Lindborg, President and CEO of the United States Institute of Peace, delivered a virtual keynote address to the Council Network and all Academic WorldQuest students and teachers on May 28, 2020: "COVID and Conflict, Pandemics and Peace: The Road Ahead." (Watch below.) In light of the current pandemic and the unfortunate but necessary cancelation of the Carlos and Malú Alvarez 2020 Academic WorldQuest National Competition, Nancy addressed the students and teachers along with the national audience. She explored the unprecedented threats the coronavirus poses to fragile states and the important opportunities the pandemic offers to help fragile states recover better. A question-and-answer session followed Nancy's remarks.


Preparing the next generation of leaders, scholars, and decision-makers to thrive in a rapidly changing world - where our national interests are intertwined with the global community - is one of the greatest challenges facing our country. It requires a renewed enthusiasm for global studies in our high schools. Too many American students today fall behind their counterparts from other countries in their knowledge and understanding of world history, geography, and current international events.

The mission of Academic WorldQuest is to close the gap.

Program Structure

A World Affairs Council in your area will provide key dates and information to high school teachers and students for local Academic WorldQuest programs. Teams consist of four students plus alternates who are passionate about current international politics, geography, global economics, history, and world cultures. Typically, teams prepare in an after-school setting over the course of several months. You can read instructions and rules in the 2021 AWQ Operations Paper.

Stay tuned for a list of all participating Councils with information such as local competition dates, winning teams, and links for more details.

AWQ Study Guide and Topics

The 2020-2021 AWQ Study Guide is released!

The World Affairs Councils of America’s 2020-2021 AWQ Official Study Guide is the primary resource to help students and teachers prepare for the topics covered in the timed question-and-answer AWQ competitions hosted by local Councils. Councils may adapt these topics to align with their local programming initiatives. 

The AWQ Study Guide is also an essential resource for the Carlos and Malú Alvarez Academic WorldQuest National Competition, hosted by WACA every April in Washington, DC.

Winning teams are invited to represent their high school, city, and local Council at the national AWQ championship weekend, which includes the competition, unique programming planned to enhance the global education experience, and an opportunity to meet and engage with approximately 250 like-minded peers from around the United States.

2020-2021 AWQ Topics

  • Global Protests
  • Shifting Sands: The Arab Spring 10 Years On
  • International Labour Organization (ILO)
  • The U.S. Foreign Service in the 21st Century
  • Great Decisions
    • Climate Change and the Global Order
    • India and Pakistan
    • Rea Sea Security
    • Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking
    • U.S. Relations with the Northern Triangle
    • China’s Road into Latin America
    • The Philippines and the U.S.
    • Artificial Intelligence and Data
  • Country in Focus: Uzbekistan
  • Exploring Peace in a World of Conflict
  • Fraying Alliances
  • Looking to a Post-Pandemic Economy
  • Current Events


Contact Us

1010 Vermont Avenue NW, Suite 516
Washington, DC 20005
Phone 202-833-4557 | Email

Stay Informed

Subscribe to the weekly email newsletter to receive updates on the issues that matter most.
Privacy Policy

© 2020 World Affairs Councils of America
Privacy Policy