Map the System

Map the System presentation

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

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.

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 in partnership with educational institutions across the world.

What is Map the System?

Map the System 2019 Final - Zijun Lin, De Montfort University, Honest Fashion team

Learn more about Map the System

How does it work?

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

One selected individual or team from each institution will be invited to the Map the System Global Final event held annually at the Saïd Business School, where teams from all over the world will present their research for the chance to win 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.


The top three winning entries of Map the System will receive cash prizes. The 2020 prizes are yet to be announced.

Key dates

  • Student registration open from 16 September 2019 - 5 February 2020
  • Submissions deadline - 15 April 2020
  • Map the System Global Event, Online  15 - 17 June 2020

Are you an educator?

If you are an educator and would like to enter your institution into the 2021 competition, then get in touch with the Skoll Centre team to discuss registration.

Find out more

Find resources, previous partnering institutions and the winning entries maps and reports from all previous years.