About the competition

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Contest Guidelines

We are looking for short stories – up to 3,500 words – that in some way touch upon ideas around building a sustainable society. We will consider all genres – rom-com, literary fiction, science fiction, mystery, etc. – but stories must engage with the idea of sustainable practices and/or societies.

Most stories set in the future are dystopian – they have a pessimistic view of society. We will consider all stories, but we encourage you to imagine a more positive settings and practices for your stories. Do feel free to draw upon the resources in this Sustainable Societies website to write your story. Each page provides links to articles/videos that describe the ideas and also ideas for how such ideas may be integrated into stories.

The story doesn’t have to be about sustainability or climate change directly. A rom-com, for example, could be set in a society that replaces ownership with borrowing and the heroine goes to a clothes library to pick up a posh dress and borrow jewellery for her big date; or the hero in a crime drama could use a carbon credit card and hear the news in the background reporting on the wellbeing index instead of GDP; or the characters in a legal drama could live in a city where everyone has gardens on their roofs and generates energy from their own waste.


19 April 2018, 10 pm GMT


Please submit your entry and your completed submission form as an attachment via email to greenstories@soton.ac.uk  Include your name, address, telephone number and e-mail address, and whether you are a student. Also let us know where you heard about the competition.

Green stories submission form_


We will award three prizes from the entries, as well as name two to seven runners-up, whose stories will appear in a prize anthology. First place will be awarded to the best story, and there will also be two second-place prizes: one to the best story by a student, another to an entry not by a student.

1st Prize: £200

2nd Prize (by a student): £50

2nd Prize (all eligible): £50

The best stories will also be published in an anthology which will be distributed across bookshops and organisations interested in sustainability.


  • Word limit: 3,500 words
  • The manuscript must be typed and double-spaced with 12-point font and pages numbered.
  • Your name should not appear on the manuscript itself, as entries will be judged anonymously.
  • Include your name, address, telephone number and e-mail address, as well as whether you are a student.
  • Include a brief bio, up to 50 words.
  • Let us know where you heard about the competition.
  • Your file name should be the title of your story.
  • Stories should be unpublished.
  • Simultaneous submissions to other journals and competitions are fine as long as they are identified as such and we are notified immediately upon acceptance elsewhere.
  • We cannot accommodate revisions.
  • Worldwide copyright of each entry remains with the author, but we will have the unrestricted right to first publish the winning stories (including runners-up) in our anthology and any other relevant promotional material.

    Who are we?

  • The competition is being run by the University of Southampton. Dr Denise Baden is Associate Professor of Business Ethics and Sustainability and has run several projects aimed at engaging people in sustainability. Denise is convinced, that more than anything else, creating a cultural body of work that portrays sustainable societies and solutions in a positive way is necessary to counter anxiety and inspire positive social change. Denise is joined by Carole Burns, head of Creative Writing at the University of Southampton and Dr Dr. Aiysha Jahan, a published writer with a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Southampton.
  • Judging:

    Stories will be judged anonymously Philip Hoare, well-known writer and Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Southampton and Leverhulme artist-in-residence at Plymouth University; Dr. Aiysha Jahan, a published writer with a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Southampton; writer Carole Burns, Head of Creative Writing at the University of Southampton, and Dr. Denise Baden, Associate Professor in Sustainable Business at Southampton Business School, University of Southampton.

  • Prize giving event

    Our free prize giving event is on 21st June 7-8.30 pm at October Books, Southampton. Published author Philip Hoare will be presenting the prizes and we will read out extracts from the winning entries and runners up. Plus, there will be drinks and nibbles, a free mini-anthology to give you a taster before the full one is published early 2019 (with foreword by Chris Packham) and a chance to mingle and find out future plans for our Green Stories competition. Register https://www.eventbrite.com/e/green-stories-prize-giving-event-tickets-45934380970