Map the System awards student changemakers

Friday, April 17, 2020

Map the System Winners graphic

Twenty-eight hard-working teams harnessed the power of systems thinking to map out important problems for the University of Waterloo’s second annual Map the System competition. Congratulations to Emma McDougall, Kaitlin Webber, and Sam Petrie, who won first place for their research into the socioeconomic transformation of neighbourhoods along the new light rail corridor in Waterloo Region.

The second place team, Jessica Bloom, Jamie Dardarien, Komal Dhawan, Zinneerah Amir Memon, and Mary Allysa Misola, focused on the detrimental environmental impacts of the global fashion industry. Completing the virtual podium, Bailee Ziegenhagel, Graeme Robinson, Heidi Soper, Jessie Huang, and Kelsey Ng came in third place with their submission on the environmental impacts of supermarket food waste in Ontario. Problems explored by other Waterloo teams included youth homelessness, the gig economy, gender inequality, and e-waste.

In addition to being the Waterloo campus nominee for the Canadian Map the System finals, the winning team will receive a $2,000 prize thanks to the support of Kindred Credit Union. Sarona Asset Management provided the second place prize of $1,000, and the W Store sponsored the $500 third place prize. The Centre for Peace Advancement is grateful for these sponsors, as well as our campus partners: St. Paul’s Greenhouse, the Faculty of Environment, the Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation, and the Conrad School for Entrepreneurship and Business.

Map the System is a systems thinking competition that invites students to look deeper into the complex social and environmental problems found in the modern world. Organized by the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford University, this competition offers Waterloo students the chance to compete at a campus, national, and global level. The Centre for Peace Advancement’s emphasis on creative and collaborative peacebuilding fits well with the competition’s desire to have students think differently about global challenges.

Map the System bannerJust as students were tasked with thinking differently, the Centre had to think differently about how to conclude the 2020 Map the System competition. Researching and mapping their systems since the beginning of February, these students stepped up the challenge and persevered to complete their submissions online despite the disruption of COVID-19. “This resilience stands as a testament to the fact that University of Waterloo students are determined to change the world,” noted Paul Heidebrecht, Director of the Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement at Conrad Grebel University College. “I’m pleased that the Centre can offer an online alternative, as have others in our innovation ecosystem, in order to allow passionate, young changemakers to continue to work toward social transformation.”

In addition to Heidebrecht, the Map the System judging panel included Brock Dickinson (School of Environment, Enterprise and Development), Sharon Kirkpatrick (School of Public Health and Health Systems), Laszlo Sarkany (Social Development Studies), Vanessa Schweizer (Knowledge Integration), and Karin Schmidlin (Stratford School of Interaction Design and Business).

The judges were impressed with the insightfulness of this year’s participants in addition to their diligence. In the words of Brock Dickinson, “The submissions displayed great explanatory power. Although the students were studying complex systemic problems, they managed to make them understandable without oversimplifying things.”

The winning Waterloo team will be competing against over a dozen student teams from across Canada in early May for one of six seats at the Global Finals in June, as well as an additional cash prize. Both of these final legs will now be held online, and the Map the System Canadian Final Showcase on May 8 will include an interactive Crowd Favourite vote. Visit the Centre’s event page to keep up to date with details on the finals.