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While the World Affairs Challenge (WAC) is a year-long enterprise that enhances the capacity of youth to think and act globally, the centerpiece of WAC is its annual spring competition. The day-long event, is held for middle and high school teams that include guest speakers, introductions to local and international organizations, and a wide variety of engaging activities. Panels of judges provide feedback as each team presents their own innovative, collaborative, and holistic solution to a given real-world problem at their formal presentation. A key component of the day is the collaborative question (CQ) session in which teams of students from different schools are required to develop a solution to a problem related to the WAC's annual theme. Prior to event-day, students take a global awareness quiz that contributes to their team’s score in the competition. 

This innovative academic program enhances students' knowledge of international relations and encourages them to apply their understanding of history, geography, civics, economics, cultural awareness and language to current world problems. 


The World Affairs Challenge (WAC) was created by the Center for Teaching International Relations (CTIR) in 1992 as part of what is now the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. It started as a community outreach program to educate students and teachers about global issues. In 2010, CTIR became an independent 501(c)3 organization continuing the tradition of the World Affairs Challenge.

WAC's vision is that every student will develop awareness, understanding and engage in global issues in a way that leads to positive action in the world. 

WAC's mission, through a collaborative problem solving process, is to develop tomorrow’s global leaders. 

WAC's goal is to engage middle and high school students in global issues through research, collaborative learning, meaningful community service and exciting interactive competition.




Teachers serve primarily as coaches and facilitators, helping the students prepare for the day. Students should feel free to take the lead as much as they are able and willing, and should be encouraged to take ownership over their own success.

WAC offers a simple way for teachers to educate their students about global issues. When a teacher or team leader register a team, they get: 

  • September-March Curriculum Guide with individualized program support

  • A variety of standards-based lesson plans

  • Pre-written current event & geography quizzes

  • Detailed rubrics to link with grades

  • Research support from Denver Public Library

  • Reading lists and online videos to support students’ learning about topics

  • Interesting, relevant events and access to a vast network of community patners

  • An exciting way to teach 21st Century Skills (collaboration, teamwork, critical thinking, creative problem solving, presentation)

  • A memorable and meaningful way to incorporate service for your students

It can be a delicate balance to educate our students about politics and global issues, and the WAC staff works to make this task simple yet meaningful. Connecting students with WAC’s Community Partners can provide first-hand accounts of people living with these challenges and also with people already working to solve them. Assigned mentors can lend their valuable experience to a team of young people seeking to implement their global solutions. Pre-written current events and geography quizzes can make the acquisition of international relations facts more fun. The Collaborative Question aspect of WAC invites students to put their knowledge, skills and leadership to the task of quick and informed problem-solving. Whether WAC is embedded into a teacher's curriculum or offered as a stand-alone elective, it can be a powerful tool for experiential global education.