Academic WorldQuest | High School | 2019-2020

Join the Quest!

This year, 2019-2020 marks the 8th Tennessee Academic WorldQuest competition and the 17th annual competition among the network of World Affairs Councils of America. It is the second year since TNWAC’s WorldQuest competition was named to honor fallen U.S. diplomat Anne Smedinghoff.

Below you will find a description of the program and everything you need to know. The  links provide everything you need to participate in the 2019-2020 Anne Smedinghoff Academic WorldQuest competition.


Sign up for our newsletter so you’re up to date on WorldQuest details and other World Affairs Council developments — here’s your link to the newsletter. [HERE]

What is it?

Academic WorldQuest is the flagship youth education program of the Tennessee World Affairs Council and the national network of World Affairs Councils. It is a team game testing high school students’ knowledge of international affairs. In the game, four-person teams compete by answering multiple-choice and fill-in the blank questions divided into ten unique and engaging thematic categories. Academic WorldQuest is unique to the world affairs council system and has no direct competitor among K-12 knowledge-based competitions in the US or abroad.

The Tennessee World Affairs Council organizes a State Championship match hosted at Belmont University every February preceded by a Practice match.


The winning team in February advances to the National Championship hosted by the World Affairs Councils of America national office in Washington, DC with transportation and lodging provided by TNWAC, as well as two days of special visits to foreign embassies, think-tanks, government agencies and Capitol Hill.

WorldQuest is a flagship program of the World Affairs Council’s education outreach efforts and is integrated with other elements such as the “What in the World?” Weekly Quiz — which sharpens students’ knowledge of current global events and the “Global Scholars Diploma” program.

Forming Teams

Teams consist of four high school age students. They need not be from the same school. Home school students are eligible to participate with teammates from high schools or teams formed with other home school students.

There is no limit to the number of teams that can be organized in any individual school. The Council aims to make the WorldQuest experience available to as many students as possible. Contact the Council with questions about eligibility. The Council will be the final authority in determining participants’ eligibility.

A team consists of four (4) Primary Teammates who are currently high school students (freshman – senior year). No more than four players per team will be able to compete in the Tennessee or National competitions.

Teams may designate Alternate Teammates to replace one or more of the four Primary Teammates in the case of sickness or other circumstances which would prevent a Primary Teammate from competing in the Tennessee or National Competition.

On the day of the Tennessee Championship Match (February 23, 2020), once the Academic WorldQuest Tennessee Competition has officially started no substitutions of Alternate Teammates may be made.

Teams of fewer than four students are allowed to compete, but this is strongly discouraged.  The team going to the National Championship Match in Washington must have four members.

If the winning team from a local competition is unable to compete in the National competition and has no Alternate Teammates, the second place team will be invited to compete in its place.

Topics and Study Guide


2019-2020 Topics – Tennessee Practice and Tournament Matches

U.S.-Russia Relations

Country in Focus: South Korea

Preventing Extremism in Fragile States

Oceans: The World’s Garbage Dump

Brexit and the EU

China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Germany: 30 Years After the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Qatar and the Future of the Gulf Cooperation Council

Current Events I

Current Events II


1 – The National Championship Match will include a topic called Great Decisions — based on the eight subjects in the 2019 Great Decisions book. The winning Tennessee Championship team will be provided the Great Decisions books to prepare for the April National Championship Match. *Great Decisions

2 – Questions for the topics 1-8 will be drawn from the references in the study guide. At least half of the Current Events topic questions are drawn from the “What in the World? Weekly Quiz” series. So we strongly recommend students subscribe to the TNWAC newsletter to receive the quiz every Monday. Get the newsletter here.


The Tennessee World Affairs Council asks teams to pay $80.00 for the first team and $40.00 for each additional team from that school to participate in the Tennessee Championship Match.  Fees can be paid by check or online. Instructions are included in the Championship Match registration page. Team fees cover the match costs (i.e. t-shirts, trophies, medallions, snacks, etc.).

The Council covers the costs for lodging and transportation for the Championship team trip to Washington, D.C.


Academic WorldQuest was created by the Charlotte Council and is now widely played at the adult and high school levels around the country. It is a team game testing competitors’ knowledge of international affairs, geography, history, and culture. The World Affairs Councils of America started the national competition in Washington, DC in March 2003. Participants come from high schools that work with the World Affairs Council network.

The Tennessee World Affairs Council launched its first Academic WorldQuest match in 2009 with a team from Martin Luther King, Jr., Magnet High School of Nashville taking the state championship and going on to Washington, DC in April of that year for the national title match.

The first Tennessee Academic WorldQuest Champs

National Championship Match – Washington, DC

The first-place team of the Tennessee WorldQuest Championship travels to Washington D.C. to compete in the National Academic WorldQuest Competition representing the state. The cost of travel and lodging for the trip is covered for the winning team and one teacher/chaperone by the Tennessee World Affairs Council.

The national match, called the Carlos and Malú Alvarez Academic WorldQuest National Competition, is usually held on a Saturday in late April. It is attended by more than 200 of the nation’s most promising students in about 50 teams, along with their parents, teachers, and chaperones. The 3-hour competition is a unique opportunity for many students to visit the nation’s capital for the first time. There is a weekend of substantive programming to enhance the experience. Examples of past National Competition weekend activities include embassy receptions, speeches by ambassadors, discussions with experts on competition topics, and cultural activities.

Why Academic WorldQuest is Important

With funding for school programs other than “basics” falling away, the opportunities for high school students to learn geography, world history, and world affairs have dwindled in American high schools while globalization and interdependence continues to knit the world more closely together each passing day.

The Tennessee World Affairs Council does much to counter this trend through its programs: distinguished visiting speakers events; seminars; availability of global affairs curriculum units for high schools through our national network; the organizing of teachers’ workshops, and the sending abroad of teachers and students. We want to build on our already existing and successful programs that seek to reverse this disturbing trend regarding global affairs awareness education. Toward that end: Academic WorldQuest is a “Game with a Purpose.”

Academic WorldQuest has to be fun, or you’re not doing it right.

Anne Smedinghoff Academic WorldQuest Challenge Reigning Champs

2018-2019 Champs – Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet HS

Well done to the Academic WorldQuest team from Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School in Nashville, winners of the 2019 Anne Smedinghoff Academic WorldQuest Challenge tournament in February 2019, and representatives of Tennessee at the National Championship Match of WorldQuest in Washington, D.C.









The mission of the nonprofit, nonpartisan Tennessee World Affairs Council is to promote international awareness, understanding and connections to enhance the region’s global stature and to prepare Tennesseans to thrive in our increasingly complex and connected world.


A well-informed community that thinks critically about the world and the impact of global events.   

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