Interdisciplinary research competition begins at Waterloo

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

For the fourth year in a row, the Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement is hosting the Map the System competition at the University of Waterloo. As students and faculty across campus begin their systems thinking journeys, buzz about this year’s competition is growing. Read on to learn more about how this interdisciplinary competition brings together student researchers from around the world.


The 2022 Map the System competition is underway at the University of Waterloo, bringing together students and faculty from across campus to engage in systems thinking. Each year, the Centre for Peace Advancement organizes the competition at the University of Waterloo, supporting students and faculty along the way. This year, Waterloo’s Map the System Campus Lead, Leah Feor has already begun meeting with students to support their efforts with knowledge she gained from her experience as a member of Waterloo’s winning team in 2021.

Missed our last update article? Read Map the System 2022 is underway now to catch up!

This interdisciplinary research competition is open to undergraduate and graduate-level participants from any faculty, many of whom become engaged independently, entering the competition as a co-curricular activity. In addition, students enrolled in several Waterloo courses have the unique opportunity to explore systems thinking as part of their studies this term. These students will receive additional support from their classmates and instructors.

Environment and Business students can engage in Map the System through Sean Geobey’s Sustainable Entrepreneurship Project (ENBUS 403) course and Olaf Weber’s Environmental Finance (ENBUS 650) course. International Development students have two Map the System course options, including Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship (INDEV 308) taught by Jason Thistlethwaite, and Methods for Sustainable Development Practice (INDEV 607) taught by Simron Singh. Waterloo Engineering students can explore Map the System through Systems Design Methods 2 (SYDE 362) under the direction of Matthew Borland, as well as in Hard Decisions and Wicked Problems (INTEG 441/641), Knowledge Integration students can engage Map the System with support from instructor Vanessa Schweizer. Students in Recreation and Leisure Studies can take the Advanced Seminar in Tourism Development (REC 480) course taught by Karla Boluk to participate in Map the System. Finally, students at the Stratford School of Interaction Design and Business can enter Map the System via Lan Do’s Media Innovation and Impact (DEI 625) course.

Skills learned through the competition are valuable across disciplines, both in the classroom and in the workplace. “Map the System provides a vehicle to inspire students to take a hard look at messy problems”, explains Professor Schweizer. “In turn, students better understand why good decisions may be elusive, becoming more informed and empowered to recommend promising solutions for wicked problems.” Schweizer’s enthusiasm is shared by Professor Borland, who is returning to engage a new cohort of UWaterloo students in the 2022 competition

Map the System is a chance for students and professionals alike to see the value they bring to the system that is our world.

Matthew borland, 2022

Whether they are participating in Map the System independently or as part of a course, students are supported throughout the competition through one-on-one meetings, community webinars and workshops, and a library of resources.

Registration for Map the System 2022 will be open until January 31, 2022. Visit the Centre for Peace Advancement’s website or reach out to UWaterloo’s Campus Lead, Leah Feor for more information.