Map the System

Monday, June 29, 2020

Map the System

This past year, GBDA introduced the third-year course GBDA 302, in which the final deliverable was a submission to a competition. “Map the System” has been available to Waterloo students for the past few years, but this is the first time where Waterloo has heavily pushed students to take part in it. Throughout the course, students were taught to use systems thinking as a guiding approach to understand complex global challenges. Map the System is a global competition that aims to challenge entrants to think differently about social and environmental dilemmas. Ever since its inception in 2016, Map the System has been using its platform to encourage a learning-first approach to social change – an approach where people take the time to understand existing beliefs and efforts before proposing new ones.

Screen shot of a section of the Fast Fashon infographic
A submission for the Map the System competition comprises of a few parts. The main portion is a visual map. This can be a creative infographic that outlines the problem in a unique way. The second portion is a written summary. This is essentially an essay containing all the material used for the infographic. The last portion of the submission is a bibliography of the research done for the project.

Jessica Bloom, a now fourth-year GBDA student, and her team placed second out of all Waterloo submissions. Her team decided to dedicate their map to the environmental issue of fast fashion on a global scale. “We chose to focus on this because we noticed that it was something we actively played a part in. We’re really interested in the innovative solutions that the sustainable fashion industry was coming up with to solve a problem that has plagued society for so long,” Jessica explained. The way their infographic is laid out follows quite a creative process. “Things started by having the washing machine that held that lifecycle of a t-shirt. The rest of the map follows a stream of water that leaks out of the machine and lands in the cup. The reasoning for this is that we wanted to communicate the message that all of the choices we make along the process really affect the clean drinking water that we have left,” Jessica continued.

Map the System is a great way to challenge students to think outwardly and exercise different approaches of displaying information.

The top three winning teams out of Waterloo submissions include:

First Place ($2000 and an opportunity to compete in Canadian Finals in May): Transit-induced Intensification and Gentrification – Emma McDougall, Kaitlin Webber, Sam Petrie

Second place ($1000): Wasted: Global Environmental Impacts of Fast Fashion – Jessica Bloom, Jamie Dardarien, Komal Dhawan, Zinneerah Amir Memon, Allysa Misola

Third Place ($500): Food Waste: Environmental Impact of Supermarkets – Bailee Ziegenhagel, Graeme Robinson, Heidi Soper, Jessie Huang, Kelsey Ng

If you would like to learn more about Map the System, please visit their website for further information: