LSE student wins global essay competition to attend Symposium as a "Leader of Tomorrow"

Many participants came away inspired knowing that we can and should lead more effectively for positive change.
- Elliot Gunn
Elliot Gunn 747 x560
Student Elliot Gunn (left) and award jury member Aditya Ghosh (right) at the Symposium St. Gallen

LSE master’s student Elliot Gunn was recently awarded first place in the 2023 St. Gallen Symposium global essay competition. As a competition finalist, he was invited to the Symposium event in Switzerland in early May 2023 to discuss the arguments in his essay.

The St. Gallen Symposium is an annual conference taking place at the University of St. Gallen. It hosts intergeneration debates, bringing together the leaders of today and tomorrow to foster understanding and joint action on the world’s most pressing challenges.

Every year, the Symposium sets an essay competition attracting around 1000 submissions from around the globe. Following the 2023 conference theme, "A New Generational Contract", this year’s essay question asked: "The best or worst legacy of previous generations: How can this be preserved or replaced?”

The authors of the best 100 essays were invited to St. Gallen as "Leaders of Tomorrow" to discuss their ideas with the "Leaders of Today". Elliot, who studies Economic History at LSE, was awarded first place at the Symposium for his essay on global problems in the health sector titled "Restoring the Radical Promise of Universal Healthcare".

Coming from Canada and studying in the UK, Elliot explored the publicly funded health care systems in both countries and their challenges in his essay. “As a Canadian, and as a student in the UK, I’ve been following closely how universal healthcare systems in both countries have been grappling with the same set of challenges. Many countries’ healthcare systems are in crisis and have been for a long time. Things seem to be getting worse, and public discourse on this has not contributed constructively to policy solutions.

“As a student in the Economic History MSc, I wanted to see if I could apply analytical frameworks about economic constraints and incentives, and the importance of institutions in improving public health, raising living standards, and increasing human capital to this,” he explains.

To anyone thinking of entering next year’s competition, Elliot recommends giving it a go. “I would strongly encourage them to consider applying. The Symposium covers every participant’s expenses, so cost should not deter students.

“The essay competition is just one part of the Symposium: we attended small workshops with industry leaders, spent a day touring the beautiful St. Gallen, and forged close friendships with fellow participants over the week. Many participants came away inspired knowing that we can and should lead more effectively for positive change in whatever industry we’re in.”

For more information about the Symposium and essay competition, visit: