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Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship

Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship

Map the System

Map the System - Presentation from team, Saving Mothers

What is Map the System?

Map the System is a global competition that asks you to think differently about social and environmental change.

Tackling global challenges starts with understanding a problem and its wider context, rather than jumping straight into a business plan or an idea for a quick fix. This competition asks you to select a social or environmental issue and to explore, probe, and research all the connecting elements and factors around it. We want you to present this issue back to us in a way that people can understand, share, and learn from.

Social change is complicated. Mapping is a way of understanding its complexities.

We believe that social transformation doesn’t happen in a silo, nor does it come from one person or one great idea. Mapping out the system allows us to think about context and the many interacting factors that contribute to the development of the issues facing us – be they economic forces, political movements, or global trends. It gives us the tools to understand the whole picture and takes us out of our silos.

Map the System is an initiative of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, in partnership with educational institutions across the world.

How it works

Universities and post-secondary education institutions are invited to run their own Map the System competition, with the support of tools provided by the Skoll Centre.

One selected individual or team from each institution will be invited to the Map the System Global Final event held on 1-3 June 2018 at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, UK, where teams from all over the world will pitch for the three top prizes.

Who is the competition for?

This competition is for you if any of the following apply:

  • You have a passion for or lived experience of a particular social/environmental challenge and would like to investigate this problem fully to understand what sort of intervention in the system would be most effective
  • You are looking to have a high-impact career and want to understand where your unique skill set can be best applied to effect lasting change
  • You want to get an internship related to your chosen issue and want to understand what organisations are out there
  • You have an existing solution, product or business idea in mind, but would like to research the issue area thoroughly to understand what solutions have already been tried, and are willing to pivot your idea based on your findings

Map the System is less well suited to those whose business idea or start-up enterprise is further advanced to the point where pivoting their model is no longer feasible.

Eligibility criteria

  • You can apply for Map the System as an individual or in a team of up to five people.
  • At least one member of the team must be a current student at the University of Oxford or any of our partner institutions (enrolled on a course of 6 months or longer), OR a recent graduate of one of those institutions (i.e. having completed studies within 12 months of the date you register for the competition).
  • Students may be at undergraduate, diploma, postgraduate or doctoral level.


Following the Global Final on 1-3 June 2018, the top three entries of Map the System will receive cash prizes and tickets to the Emerge Conference 2018 (including a subsidy for travel costs):

1st - £4,000 cash prize.

2nd - £3,000 cash prize.

3rd - £2,000 cash prize.

In addition, we offer prizes on a local level to the top three shortlisted teams from the University of Oxford:

1st - £1,500 (+ invitation to the Global Final)

2nd - £1,000

3rd - £500

All Oxford entrants are also eligible to apply for further ‘Apprenticing with a Problem’ funding to research their chosen issue in the field.

Key dates

Registration open – 18 September 2017 - 22 January 2018

To participate in Map the System, you first need to register online. Tell us a few details about your team, topic, and what you hope to learn.

*registraion is now closed*

Final submissions deadline – 26 March 2018

You have until 26 March to submit your final materials via an online form. By that date you need to submit three documents:

  1. Visual map or chart
  2. Analysis of research
  3. Bibliography

Full details about what should be contained in each of these documents can be found in the Submissions Guidelines.

Shortlisting and selection by judges – 26 March - 27 April 2018

Each institution will have a panel of judges who will review and select their students’ entries to Map the System. Your institution may hold a local presentation event, or select the winner through review of submissions alone. Once selected, each institution’s winning team or individual will be invited to the Global Final event in Oxford.

For University of Oxford applicants, shortlisting will take place until 11 April. If shortlisted, you’ll be invited to participate in an Oxford presentation event on Wednesday 25 April.

Map the System Global Final event – 1-3 June 2018

The final event will be held at the University of Oxford, UK, where teams from all over the world will present their ideas to compete for the three top prizes.

Participants will benefit from personalised feedback from a panel of expert judges, who work in impact-focused organisations such as private foundations, impact investment firms, and social enterprises. Furthermore, finalists will have the opportunity to build relationships with students from a range of other schools and universities, all of whom are passionate about positive social change.

In addition to the final presentation event, finalists will attend a traditional Oxford College dinner, and receive a keynote address by an influential social impact leader.

Guests are welcome to attend the final round of presentations on Sunday 3 June 2018. Registration for the event is free – details of how to register will be shared a few weeks before the event.

Winners and finalists of 2017

See all 2017 winners and finalists' maps and reports

Contact us
Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship
+44 (0)1865 288838