Students can compete in Oxford University’s ‘Map the System’ competition

Oxford University's "Map the System" competition will allow teams of UVU students to compete nationally. Photo courtesy of the Center for Social Impact.

“Map the System” is a yearly competition held by Oxford University’s Said Business school. This competition is open locally for universities and post-secondary institutions from around the world to participate in. This year, UVU’s Woodbury School of Business and the Center for Social Impact are hosting the local competition.  

“The UVU Map the System Challenge involves choosing a social issue, researching it through a systems thinking lens, visually mapping out the systems that contribute to the problem and presenting the visuals and findings via video presentation,” as stated on UVU’s Center for Social Impact website. 

“Just as we know an infection is not healed by placing a bandaid over the open wound where bacteria entered, a social problem cannot be solved through temporary relief methods used in isolated incidences,” said Cassie Bingham, the program director. “Instead, one must learn to address a system by identifying leverage points and strategically influencing them in a myriad of ways.”

This competition is for students who have an interest in social or environmental issues and want to learn more about these social dilemmas. “The competition challenges participants to use systems thinking as a guiding approach to understanding some of the most complex issues the world faces today,” according to the Map the System website. 

Students who are interested can participate must organize into groups of two to five students, and attend workshops to aid in the building of their presentation. “Teams who register choose what issue they would like to focus on, and the trend is to choose a problem that team members have proximity to,” noted Bingham. 

Five workshops will be held on-campus at UVU. The dates and times for these workshops can be found on the Center for Social Impact’s website. The registration deadline is Friday, Oct. 15. 

The local challenge event will be held on Dec. 2, where the teams will be judged based on their research, videos and visualization. The winning team from UVU will have the opportunity to move onto the global Oxford University competition. The Map the System website states each entry will be evaluated based on: application of a systems-thinking approach, understanding the challenging landscape and the existing solution efforts, identifying gaps and levers of change, and key insights and lessons learned. 

The winner of the 2021 competition was a team from the University of British Columbia, presenting on the “Unique Get Together Society and Urban Indigenous Food Insecurity in British Columbia. 

This team analyzed the food insecurity throughout indigenous communities in British Columbia. Their presentation provided two key insights: Primarily, that food insecurity in these communities has been “prevalent for decades without sustainable interventions being implemented.” 

Secondarily, the “current dominant Western worldview of food as a commodity resists Indigenous worldviews as food is connected to the land, and for Indigenous Peoples, food impacts not only physical wellbeing, but also mental, spiritual, and emotional wellbeing, diet quality and connection to culture, community and land.” 

“Our goal is to leverage the creativity and intellectual firepower of a global community of student change-makers to develop actionable, systematic change ideas for a world in crisis,” according to Map the System. 
Students who are passionate about social change and enjoy problem-solving are encouraged to register for, and participate in this competition.

“There are so many ways to get involved at the Center for Social Impact! … [Students] can apply to be in our cohort of full-scholarship student leaders called the Impact Fellows, who run student-facing events and programs,” Bingham shared. More information can be found on the Map the System Competition page on the Center for Social Impact’s site.

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