May 25, 2022

Delayed Until Death team takes first place in UCalgary’s Map the System challenge

Competing students learn to deeply investigate the system complexity of social problems
Members of Delayed Until Death team
Members of Delayed Until Death team included Kanokwan Cnainarongpinij (pictured), Priyanka Malhotra and Maleeha Sarmad

The University of Calgary’s Map the System Competition was held virtually during the first Entrepreneurial Thinking Week. This year, 33 students from seven faculties across campus used systems thinking to research and understand a social challenge during the three-month program.

“Map the System is a global program from Oxford that has teams spend a few months deeply investigating a social problem to understand the complexities of the systems around it, said Keri Damen, executive director of the Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking. "Not only is it an opportunity for those interested in social impact to hone their skills, it’s also helpful for those already working on a solution. This year, we had a few startup teams participate and it helped hone their strategy to make an even bigger impact” 

Map the Systems approach looks at problems first

The event’s keynote featured Map the System facilitator Hannah Cree Hemphill, who shared her social entrepreneurship story co-founding CMNGD (COMMONGOOD), a social impact organization that employed people facing trauma caused by homelessness and poverty.

“As a systems change person, this work is so important,” said Hemphill. “It focuses on the type of research that needs to be done first. As humans, we all want to jump to solutions because we want to fix things. Map the System really stretches us and encourages us to look at the problem first.”

Four teams of students presented their systems thinking at the finale on March 29. The winning presentation was Delayed Until Death from the team of Maleeha Sarmad, Kanokwan Cnainarongpinij, and Priyanka Malhotra, who won $2,500 provided by the Hunter Hub. They investigated the issue of sex-biased research and innovation, which has led to devastating, but preventable, health-care outcomes for women. They wanted to determine how to address these health-care inequities as we move toward the era of precision health. The second-place team, Neocycle, won a $1,500 prize. Neocycle also recently won first-place grand prize in the Launchpad Liftoff Competition during Entrepreneurial Thinking Week. Team members include Arshia Mostoufi, Ramin Kahidi, and Subasthika Thangadurai.

On May 13 the UCalgary team competed against other teams of university students at Map the System Canada. The global final takes place Sunday, June 19.

Enriching UCalgary experience

The team reflected on their experience working with the Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking and participating in Map the Systems: “We are grateful that we had the chance to showcase challenges women have faced in health care. Map the System has brought in a wealth of exposure to systems thinking and social innovation with U of C experts in the field guiding us along the way. We are interested in exploring future projects to continue this important work.”

Hosted by the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Oxford, Map the System is a one-of-a-kind interdisciplinary challenge that requires participants to use a systems-thinking approach to demonstrate a deep understanding of a pressing social or environmental challenge.

Students learned new innovation skills to address the world’s most pressing issues while also bolstering their resumes. They connect with socially-conscious students, researchers, and practitioners from across UCalgary and Canada. The program included coached weekly workshops on research, system mapping, storytelling and communication, human-centred design, mapping information systems, and presentation skills.

Meet the other UCalgary teams

The three other teams that presented at UCalgary’s Map the System Competition discussed the following topics:

  • Unheard Cries: Fragmented Alberta Support for Neurodiverse Families: The team found that more than 9 per cent of children are neurodiverse, and one-third have one or more medical, physical or psychological conditions. They examined the connections and disconnections within and between government and non-government family support across various sectors.
  • The Global Rare Earth Elements Crisis: The team looked into the issues involving rare earth elements, which are essential in today’s technologies. Their investigation determined the crisis is a result of issues in the health, safety and environment, sociopolitical, and economic sectors.
  • Impacts of COVID-19 on Education: The team examined the adverse consequences of school closures due to COVID-19, including interrupted learning, social isolation, strain on health-care systems, and gaps in childcare. Underlying factors included policy issues, delivery of services at the school level, and gaps in the education system.