April 26, 2024

Map the System crowns UCalgary winners

Winning team will represent our campus at in-person Canadian national finals
A group of four people holding an oversized cheque
Winning team members, from left: Julia Brady, Sam Padron and Paige Thompson with Kurt White of the Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking. Ricky Lam, for the University of Calgary

The University of Calgary held its campus finals for esteemed global competition Map the System on April 8, 2024, at the Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking, selecting a first-place winner to move on to the national finals.

After four months of hard work, the event underscored the passion and dedication of those who participated as they navigated the program with one goal: to explore a social or environmental challenge through a comprehensive discovery process.

Spearheaded by the University of Oxford, Map the System is delivered in collaboration with leading educational institutions across the globe. Map the System encourages its participants to adopt a learning-first mindset towards social change, emphasizing how to build upon existing efforts rather than propose new solutions. This approach allows participants to intercept worldwide conversations as they address global challenges.

During the program, students had access to numerous resources to help them along their journey, including workshops, one-on-one coaching, and other tools to support the development of their project.

First-place winners tackle barriers to higher education

During the campus finals, eight teams participated with one team selected to represent the university at the in-person Canadian National Finals.

The winning team, including Paige Thompson, Julia Brady, and Sam Padron, addressed systemic barriers to post-secondary education. Their project explored the origins of such barriers — environmental, social, and financial — and how they contribute to the increasing inaccessibility to higher education across post-secondary institutions in Alberta.

All three team members are first-year students from the School of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape (SAPL).

The second-place title went to Rein Gonzales, Rebeca Cesar, and Steve Angoluan, also first-year students from SAPL. Their project tackled housing within Black communities and the disparities in security and homelessness compared to other racial and ethnic groups, zooming in on New York City.

Our third-place winner, Cherie Brown-Panton, explored the challenges women in academia face, focusing on institutions in Canada.

A large group of people holding three oversized cheques

All three teams that placed in the competition.

Ricky Lam, for the University of Calgary

Helping students propel conversations around social change

Brandon Pentz, winner of last year’s campus finals and a judge this year, reflected on the program and its impact for students.

“There are so many different reasons [why students should participate in Map the System]. The biggest thing is gaining that fulfillment, learning, fostering that sense of curiosity, and getting the chance to dive deep into something you’re passionate about,” he said. “Then you get to share these learnings with other people, which is the biggest reason behind this program. You gain so much experience, not only learning from other students but also from the amazing mentorship and opportunities offered by the Hunter Hub.”

Pentz feels grateful to have been given the chance to come back as a judge and witness the work from this year’s teams.

“Having the opportunity and privilege to be a judge at the University of Calgary was a full circle moment for me,” he said. “It’s really fulfilling to see the hard work and dedication from these students.”

Alberto de Salvatierra, associate dean (undergraduate) of SAPL, echoed the importance of Map the System and the opportunities it presents.

“The results of the Map the System competition are clear: age or “experience” are not prerequisites for intelligence, capacity, or ability to bring about positive change,” he stated. “Any student, regardless of seniority, is capable of systems thinking and transdisciplinary research — an attitude we impart to all our undergraduate students in the Bachelor of Design in City Innovation (BDCI) program here at SAPL.”

With both first and second-place winners hailing from the Bachelor of Design in City Innovation program, de Salvatierra is excited to see more teams from BDCI participate in the program next year, with a goal to double the number of teams contributed from 20 to 40.

Three people stand behind a podium

From left: Julia Brady, Paige Thompson and Sam Padron.

Ricky Lam, for the University of Calgary

Next up: Canadian national finals

We may have a campus winner, but Map the System is far from over.

Next, the Hunter Hub will be co-hosting the in-person Canadian national finals, which are set to feature 20 teams from 20 schools across the country.

Our winners, Paige, Julia, and Sam will represent UCalgary at the finals being held on May 26, 2024. The event is open to the public, and we encourage everyone to come cheer on your UCalgary representatives.

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