Partner with us

Information for institutions

Map the System is open to post-secondary education institutions all around the world. We invite you to partner with us to develop social impact leaders who collaborate with others to fully understand a challenge.
Learn more about our approach.


Join a global movement

Be part of a movement which values understanding problems first, before proposing solutions. We believe this is the future of social impact education.


Build connections

Form relationships among staff and students from a range of other universities & colleges, all of whom are passionate about positive social change.


Create opportunities

Give students the chance to win cash prizes, make valuable connections, and develop their ideas for impact in their chosen field.


What is Map the System?

Map the System is a global competition that asks students and educators to think differently about social and environmental change. The competition challenges participants to use a systems lens to research a specific social or environmental issue. Participants are then expected to compellingly articulate their findings in a way that engages audiences and promotes understanding.

Map the System is about using a systems-thinking approach to practice changemaking by demonstrating a deep understanding of a pressing social or environmental challenge. This is not a pitch competition, but rather a discovery process for students of any discipline who have an interest in social and environmental change. Students will delve deep into an issue that matters to them and will take the time to explore, probe and research all its connecting elements and factors – later sharing their findings with the world.

The goal of Map the System is to encourage a learning first approach to social change – one where people take the time to understand and build upon existing efforts before attempting something new. Ultimately, social change is complicated. Mapping is an effective strategy for gaining insight into the complexities surrounding complex social issues.

Who is Map the System for?

Map the System is for students and recent graduates of any discipline who have an interest in social or environmental issues and who want to learn more about a problem they care about and present their findings to the world. The purpose of the competition is to promote a systems-thinking approach to tackling social/environmental challenges. It is ideally suited to:

% Those who have an existing 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


% Those that are looking to have a high-impact career and want to understand where their unique skill set can be best applied to effect lasting change


% Those who 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 their idea based on their 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 not feasible at this stage.


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 for Social Entrepreneurship at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. Institutions running local competitions would align their branding to the Oxford competition, using resources provided.

One selected individual or team from each institution will be invited to the Map the System Global Final event held on 5-7 June 2020 at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, UK, where teams from all over the world will compete for the three top prizes.


Participant eligibility criteria:

% Participants can apply for Map the System as an individual or in a team of up to 5 people.

% At least one member of the team must be a current student at 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 they register for the competition). Non-students, or students from another institution, may join a team as long as at least one member is a current student/recent graduate of the registered partner institution.

% Students may be at undergraduate, diploma, postgraduate, or doctoral level.

We do not distinguish between degree/diploma subjects and levels when marking submissions as we are looking for the strongest submissions, regardless of a student’s age or subject area, though each partner institution is welcome to set their own application requirements in addition to the above.

Criteria for participating institutions:

We invite institutions to partner with us who meet the following criteria:

% It must be a post-secondary educational institution offering courses of 6 months or longer.

% It must have internal capacity to support students throughout the cycle of the competition (mid-September 2019 to mid-June 2020). As a guide, we recommend a minimum of one staff member to support the administrative process (estimated time commitment 50-70 hours total) AND one educator to advise students on the content of their submissions and provide feedback (estimated time commitment 15-20 hours).

% Each institution must commit to securing at least 3 registrations from teams/individuals at their institution, from which it will use the judging criteria provided to select one winner to progress to the Global Final event.

% Each institution must commit funds for the registration fee, as well as the cost of sending the winning team/individual to Oxford (travel and accommodation costs) for the Global Final from 5-7 June 2020.

Participating institutions may choose whether to incorporate Map the System into their for-credit curriculum or run it as an extracurricular programme.

What is the cost?

This is a not-for-profit initiative and we aim to keep costs as low as possible for participating institutions. In order to cover core competition costs such as content development, final event costs, the costs to bring in high-calibre global judges, and sufficient prize money, participating institutions are required to contribute £2,000. In addition, partner institutions should cover the travel & accommodation costs of the individual or team that they send to the final in June 2020.

What support will partner universities receive?

The Skoll Centre will provide each partner with:

%  Tools to run their own local competition (application form, judging criteria, a project plan, branding material, example fliers, guidance on process).

%  The chance to join 2-3 webinars for Map the System Champions at institutions around the world, to gather new ideas, answer questions, and share resources.

%  Website with learning tools and resources for all Map the System entrants globally, as well as learning resources shared directly with the Map the System Champions in each institution to share with their local entrants.

% A 2.5 day Map the System Global Final competition hosted at the University of Oxford, UK, where a winning team or individual from each partner institution will present their system map to a set of global judges, as well as have the opportunity to network with and learn from other students from around the world.


Key Dates

Please note, dates may be subject to change.

Until 15 November 2019

Register your institution

Institution registration for Map the System 2020 has now ended. 

In order to participate in Map the System, you must first register your institution as a partner. This should be completed by an educator, staff member, or other representative of the institution. Institution registration will remain open until Wednesday 30th October.

Once registered, we will invoice your institution for the £2,000 participation fee and will send you an information pack which includes guidance documents, recommended timelines and processes, judging criteria, and marketing assets for promotion to your students.

16 September 2019 –
5 February 2020

Student registration open

We will send you the link to an online form where students can register to participate in the competition. Students are required to submit their proposed topic and the names of the individual or team members wishing to participate.

The Skoll Centre team will send you periodic updates of how many of your students have registered, and the final list of the names of the students who have registered. This gives you an opportunity to provide students with feedback on the suitability of their chosen topic so that any adjustments may be made before the final submissions deadline on 25 March.

15 April 2020

Final student submissions

Students have until 25 March to submit their final materials via an online form. By that date they need to submit three documents:

1. Visual system map
2. Written summary of their research (max. 3,000 words)
3. Bibliography

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

6 May 2020

Shortlisting and selection by local institutions

Each institution is responsible for selecting their local winning team/individual that will progress to the Global Final, using the judging criteria provided. We recommend each institution sources a panel of at least 3 experienced judges to review and select their students’ entries to Map the System, including someone from the centre/department managing the competition at your institution. We recommend selecting your winner by hosting a local event where teams present their maps to judges (guidelines will be shared), but you may instead choose to select the winner through review of submissions alone.

Once selected, your institution’s winning team or individual will be invited to the Map the System Global Final event in Oxford. You must inform us of the name of the finalist(s) by 29 April at the latest.

5 – 7 June 2020

Map the System Global Final event

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 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. A representative from each partner institution is welcome to join the winning team in Oxford.


For more information or to arrange a call with the team, please contact