Challenge: Connecting dialogue with journalism and freedom of speech

This Challenge is now closed. You may read the announcement of the winner(s) here. The video shows the winner of the Essay Challenge 2021, and her experience in Oslo.


Friday October 8th, Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov were awarded the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.

The Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov is especially important at this time, when truth and freedom of speech are under attack, says Executive Director Kjersti Fløgstad.

The two journalists are awarded for their courageous fight for freedom of expression in the Philippines and Russia. Press freedom internationally is under great pressure. The importance of an independent press and courageous journalists who dare to disclose important information to the public becomes especially evident in times of crisis. 

Through this challenge, we aim to make you reflect upon the importance of these issues, and their link to peace. 

Win a trip to the 2021 Nobel Days in Oslo

The winner of this challenge will be rewarded with a trip to Oslo in December! The Nobel Days are held in The Nobel Peace Center the 9th to the 12th December 2021, and will consist of several events related to the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize. We invite the winner to experience this together with us, and learn more about the Peace Prize! All costs covered.

To enroll in the competition, read The Challenge closely and follow the instructions.

The Challenge

Write an Essay about an issue related to Freedom of Speech in your community or country that you believe should get the world’s attention. Make an argument, based in fact, drawn from your own expertise or experience and delivered in your own voice. We welcome ideas for submissions in all mediums, including audio, video, illustration and data visualization.

How to set up your essay

A good Essay will try to challenge and engage audiences who do not necessarily agree with the writer’s point of view. They give insight into complicated problems or anticipate big ideas. They start conversations, influence policy-makers and have an impact far beyond this challenge. They aspire to delight the reader with great writing and originality, and to open a window into a world we might not otherwise see.

Standing up for a cause is often synonymous with one sided criticism. Through this competition, and the Ignitor Fellowship, we want to encourage dialogue as a more meaningful path to change. While you focus on your important topic, try to give the reader an understanding of the issues while showing a way forward to an optimal solution through dialogue. This includes active listening, respect, reciprocity, patience, suspending opinion and thinking together. In a good dialogue flow precedes position, we are looking for common ground and we strive to create shared meaning.

Portraits of Nobel Laureates Maria Ressa and Dmitrij Muratov exhibited at Nobel Peace Center
Silhouette of a man looking at an exhibition about the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates


It’s important to include sources (in hyperlinks in the text or in parentheses) for key assertions made in your essay.

Written essays typically run from 800 to 1,200 words, but less is often more! Keep it short, don’t wander from the point, get your facts straight and try to make us laugh (or cry). And most importantly:

  • Your submission must be original, written by you and not published elsewhere
  • Keep your facts right! Be prepared to be asked for a listing of the relevant sources for each factual assertion.
  • Avoid any conflict of interests.


Write your essay before the deadline on 15th November. Make sure to read the instructions above closely.


Submit your essay through the form further down on this page in a pdf format. If your essay is not in written format, upload a pdf with a link to your video, audio etc.

When submitting your work, please explain your academic or personal background that connects you to the argument or idea in your essay. You can do this in the Message area of the form.

NB: Make sure you receive a message below the form saying the submission was successful.


After the deadline, a board of international journalists will review all the submissions for the challenge, and will pick out the winning essay.


The winner(s) of the challenge will be announced soon after the deadline, in a news post that will show up on your home page. The winner(s) will be contacted directly to start planning their visit to Oslo.

In the meantime, we will occasionally upload selected essays to the Dialogue community that is related to this challenge, with the name Challenge: Connecting dialogue with journalism and freedom of speech. You can also discuss the challenge in the same Dialogue community, as well as ask questions.

Regardless of whether you win, an effort in this challenge will get you one step closer to being nominated as an Ignitor Fellow.  For further information about the Ignitor Fellowship, click on the About button at the top menu on this page.

The committee

An excellent group of professionals with relevant yet diverse backgrounds have come together to review the submissions to this Essay Challenge. Together, they bring a broad range of expertise within journalism, dialogue, international politics and freedom of speech to the table. The committee was responsible for reviewing all essays and selected the winner together.

Kjersti Fløgstad
Committee member

Executive Director of the Nobel Peace Center. Norwegian, based in Oslo, Norway.

Reza Fakhari
Committee member

Vice President for Internationalization and Strategic Initiatives and Professor at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights, New York. Previous chair of Amnesty International USA. Iranian based in New York City, US.

Ellisiv Myrva
Committee member

Student at the University of Oslo. Journalist at the University’s student journal Universitas, as well as the Norwegian newspaper Klassekampen. Norwegian based in Oslo, Norway.

Salam Omer
Committee member

Editor-in-chief of Kirkuk Now, an independent electronic news website publishing stories and events taking place within or relevant to Iraq’s disputed territories, as defined in the Iraqi constitution, with the aim of promoting coexistence in those areas and providing easy access to information. Based in Iraq.

Natalie Jesionka
Committee member

Dalla Lana Global Journalism Fellow and P.D. Soros Fellow. Journalist for The Washington Post. Previous member of Board of Directors in Amnesty International. Based in the US.

Peter Nixon
Committee member

Programme manager of the Ignitor Fellowship. Creator of Potential Dialogue System. Peter’s tagline, “The Solution is in the Dialogue” is motivated by the many social, economic, and environmental problems we see today. 


Deadline expired. It is no longer possible to join this challenge.

  • Rockford University
  • Leiden University
  • University of Oslo
  • King’s College London
  • Asian Institute of Technology
  • Western Oregon University
  • University of Edinburgh
  • Columbia University
  • University of Amsterdam
  • Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • The London School of Economics
  • Trinity College Dublin
  • VU Amsterdam
  • Cape Town University
  • TU Delft
  • The Hague University
  • University of Cambridge
  • OsloMet
  • BI Norwegian Business School
  • National Autonomus University of Mexico
  • Brown University
  • Lindenwood University
  • Boston University
  • University of Kent

You can read about our official university partners here.