Press Release - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Winners of Cuban Missile Crisis Lessons Contest Announced

October 22, 2012

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Oct. 22, 2012 -- The Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and Foreign Policy Magazine have announced the winners and runners-up of the “Lessons of the Cuban Missile Crisis Contest,” held to mark the 50th anniversary of the crisis that narrowly averted nuclear war in October 1962.

The three winners are: 16-year-old Eden Rose Niles, a high-school junior from Colorado; Zachary Elias, an undergrad at Dartmouth College; and Reid Pauly, a research assistant at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford.

The question entrants answered was: “What can statesmen learn from the most dangerous confrontation in human history to better address challenges of war and peace today?” Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center joined with Foreign PolicyMagazine to sponsor the contest.

Contestants had to boil down their reply into a short lesson, and then back it up with an essay of no more than 300 words. More than 250 entries were received from countries as far-flung as Ethiopia, Nigeria, China, South Korea, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, Colombia, Pakistan and India.

The winners’ names were announced at a special John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum about the Cuban Missile Crisis, held at Harvard Kennedy School on Friday, Oct. 19, featuring Belfer Center Director Graham Allison and Professor Nicholas Burns, a former U.S. under secretary of state for political affairs. The webcast can be viewed here.

The winners receive iPads and a one-year subscription to Foreign Policy Magazine. Runners-up also have their entries posted online, and receive a signed copy of Allison’s book: Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis. The complete entries by the winner and two runners- up in each category are posted online on the Belfer Center and Foreign Policy websites.

The Belfer Center also created a special website to gather historical documents and original lesson plans and other tools for teachers who want to engage students in thinking about the missile crisis in October 1962.


Category #1: Grades 6-12

  • Eden Rose Niles, Colorado Academy High School, Denver, CO

Runners Up:

  • Marija Trajanoska, NOVA International School, Skopje, Macedonia
  • Oliver Xie, Newton South High School, Newton, MA


Category #2: General Public

  • Zachary Elias, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH

Runners Up:

  • Robert Walsh, Global Financial Crime Officer, AXA Group, New York, NY
  • Jacob Schroeder, Advertising Copyeditor in Chicago, IL


Category #3: Scholars and Practitioners

  • Reid Pauly, Research Assistant, Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) at Stanford

Runners Up:

  • LT Douglas Gates, Instructor, US Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD
  • Dr. Christopher Bright, Staffer on Armed Services Committee, House of Representatives, Oakton, VA


(Visit this web page to read the complete lessons and essays of all nine finalists.)

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:Winners of Cuban Missile Crisis Lessons Contest Announced.” Press Release, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, October 22, 2012.