After winning both the national and global competitions last year, SFU is participating in the annual Map the System Challenge (formerly the ‘Oxford Global Challenge’) along with other top schools from around the world! Unlike most business and case competitions, Map the System is focused on deeply understanding social problems before trying to solve them. Register your team now to participate around an issue you care about! 

  1. What is Map the System?

An initiative of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Oxford, Map the System encourages students and educators to think differently about social, environmental, and economic challenges by mapping out the landscape of current problems and solutions while identifying missed opportunities for change. In teams of up to five people, SFU students and recent alumni choose a problem space to thoroughly research on a systems level. Then, they present their findings to their peers, community members, and influencers.

  1.  What problem should I or my team work on?

Any problem you are passionate about, whether it’s a local or global issue – all the better if you have already been working on something! You can take a look at some of the research focus areas from last year’s international competition.
Last year, the successful SFU team won both the national and global Map the System Challenge competition with their extensive research project about solid medical waste from Vancouver hospitals. Check out their final pitch at the global finals!

  1. Do I need a solution idea for my problem?

Nope! You just need a thorough understanding of the problem and current gaps or opportunities. A helpful framework to start with is Daniela Papi-Thornton’s Impact Gaps Canvas, which offers a comprehensive approach to mapping out a social problem.

  1. Who is eligible to apply?

Individuals or teams of up to five people. You must have at least one SFU student (undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral) OR a recent alumni (i.e. within 1 year of the registration date, January 22nd, 2018), and may include community members.

  1. How do I apply? What’s the timeline?
  • November 16th, 2017: Map the System Info Session for SFU students, alumni, and community interested in Map the System.
  • January 22nd, 2018: Complete the short registration form; all SFU teams are required to complete this quick registration form to confirm their involvement and chosen problem area.
  • January 27th, 2018: Problem Mapping 101 – a workshop hosted in collaboration with UBC. Present your problem space and research ideas to peers and community experts, and receive feedback and connections to deepen your work. Register here!
  • March 26th, 2018: full submission for the SFU local competition round, including three documents, to present your findings: a visual map or other creative representation of the issue; research analysis (max. 2000 words); and a bibliography of resources.
  • April 11th, 2018: SFU-wide competition for top 8 teams. The winning team from this round will move on to the national finals.
  • May 4th-5th, 2018: Map the System National Finals, hosted by SFU at the Segal Graduate School of Business.
  1. What can we win?

Prize money, trips to Oxford and the Emerge Conference 2018, access to further funds and support, fame and glory, and the opportunity to learn about a problem you’re curious about. SFU will provide at least $1,000 for the top SFU individual or team, and $500 for two runners up.

  1. What support is there from SFU?

We’re hosting several workshops for participants in the Map the System Challenge prior to the March 26th, 2018 final project submission deadline (see timeline above). We will do our best to support and advise teams with narrowing down their problem area, sparking community connections to experts in their chosen fields, 1-on-1 coaching, and offering presentation guidance. Sign up for our mailing list to register for our next workshop on January 27th, 2018.
Additionally, there are already lots of great resources available by the global host, the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Oxford.


More questions? Check out the Map the System FAQ first! Should you have further questions, feel free to contact Amy Farahbakhsh at afarahba[a]sfu.ca. To receive updates about Map the System, you can sign up for our mailing list.
The Map the System Challenge at SFU is coordinated by RADIUS SFU and Student Engagement and Retention at SFU with support from the SFU Alumni Association and SFU Innovates. This opportunity is offered in partnership with the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at The University of Oxford, RECODE at the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, and the Trico Charitable Foundation.

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