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Contest Guidelines

New in 2020

This year, we're expanding the Global Focus Photo Contest by introducing new categories for your photos.


Photo Categories

Global Spartan Pride

Submissions in this category will illustrate the many ways Global Spartans demonstrate their own Spartan pride or reflect the concept of Spartan pride around the world.

Global Spartans at Work

Submissions in this category will capture the many ways and places Global Spartans work—from the field, to the office, to the classroom, to the community.

Global Spartan Perspectives

Submissions in this category don’t neatly fit into the above categories—instead, this category is open to individual creativity and a chance to show the Global Spartan community glimpses into every corner of our shared world. 

Global Spartan Resilience 

Submissions in this category will tell the story of what it means to be a Global Spartan in the time of COVID-19. How have you had to be resilient during the pandemic? Show us in a photo in this new digital-only category, which will change annually to reflect common global experiences. (U.S.-based photos permitted; must have Global Spartan relevance.)

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Competition Rules

  • To enter, you must have an official connection with MSU: student, faculty/staff (including retirees) or alumni. Those involved in the competition (planning, judging, etc.) and photos from professional photographers are not eligible to win. Entries must be your original work and have been taken outside the United States, with the exception of the Global Spartans resilience category.
  • Photos must be submitted through the Global Focus submission form. You may submit a maximum of one (1) entry per each of the categories, a total of four (4) photos may be submitted.  
  • Each photo category will have four (4) winners: one student, one faculty/staff, one alumni and one people’s choice. There is a one (1) prize maximum per entrant. Winners of the Global Spartan resilience category will be shared digitally only. 
  • Entries must be high-resolution digital images, minimum of 300dpi, 5 megapixels or approximately 2800px by 2100px.


Cultural Representation Criteria

How we present our global experiences matters. That’s why we’re thankful for RADI-AID’s How To Communicate The World: A Social Media Guide For Volunteers and Travelers resource.  

As entrants determine what photos to submit in the contest, the following principles may be helpful to consider. 

(The following content is courtesy of RADI-AID and SAIH - The Norwegian Students' and Academics' International Assistance Fund.)

Language and images can either divide and make stereotypical descriptions—or unify, clarify and create nuanced descriptions of the complex world we live in. Use these four guiding principles to ensure that you avoid the erosion of dignity and respect the right to privacy while documenting your experiences abroad.

PRINCIPLE 1: Promote Dignity

You have the responsibility and power to make sure that what you write and post does not deprive the dignity of the people you interact with. Always keep in mind that people are not tourist attractions.

PRINCIPLE 2: Gain Informed Consent

Respect other people’s privacy and ask for permission if you want to take photos and share them on social media or elsewhere. Avoid taking pictures of people in vulnerable or degrading positions, including hospitals and other health care facilities. Specific care is needed when taking and sharing photographs of and with children, involving the consent of their parents, caretakers or guardians, while also listening to and respecting the child’s voice and right to be heard.

PRINCIPLE 3: Question Your Intentions

Ask yourself why you are sharing what you are sharing. Are you the most relevant person in this setting? Good intentions, such as raising awareness of the issues you are seeing, or raising funds for the organization you are volunteering with, is no excuse to disregard people’s privacy or dignity.

PRINCIPLE 4: Use Your Chance—Bring Down Stereotypes

Use your chance to tell people the stories that are yet to be told. Portray people in ways that can enhance the feeling of solidarity and connection. A good way forward is to ask the local experts what kind of stories from their life, hometown, or country they would like to share with the world.


Model Release Policy

Entrants should be sensitive to the privacy of human subjects. Winning photographs which include people will require signed "Model Release Forms" in cases where the privacy of the individuals pictured may appear to have been infringed upon. Such cases would include but not necessarily be limited to ones where the artist appears to have been intruding on another's seclusion, making private facts public, or making the viewer believe something that isn't true about the subject. In order to facilitate royalty-free use, artists must provide signed release forms upon request.


Copyright Policy

All rights, including copyright rights, of the photographs are retained by the artist. By submitting a photo to the Global Focus competition, the artist grants Michigan State University non-exclusive rights for royalty-free use, including the creation and use of derivative works, in displays and in print and electronic publications. The artist will be credited in displays and publications as appropriate.


Judging Criteria

Entries will be judged on how well the entry reflects the category,  artistic expressiveness, creativity and on the quality of the image. Judges also reserve the right to consider geographic and thematic variety, as well as relevance to MSU's global mission, in selecting the winners. All decisions of the judges are final. The competition organizers reserve the right to disqualify entries which do not conform to the stated contest rules and criteria.