UBC Map the System

A unique research opportunity awaits


Map the System is a global research-based competition that asks you to think differently about social change. Participants select a social or environmental issue, conduct research, and present the issue in a way that people can share and learn from.

Students register to compete at UBC and one team is selected to represent UBC on the global stage. Winners will virtually compete in the Global Final Competition at Oxford University. Registration details are below!


  • Teams of 1 – 5 members
  • One member must be a current UBC student or a recent alumni of 12 months from the date of registration for the competition
  • The rest of the team can include anyone who is interested: e.g. community members, faculty, professionals

From our Students

Map the System provides an opportunity to gain research experience while looking into a specific issue with the potential of examining the issue from interdisciplinary perspectives

How does this work?

Step 1: Register on our Canvas page and Explore

Information Sessions:

Register for an upcoming Canvas page to access resources, web tutorials, and discussion boards with your fellow researchers!

Enroll Today

Step 2: Register online

Register individually or as a team here (https://fs24.formsite.com/vwIEr0/MTS2021Student/index.html) by February 7, 2021 at 9pm (PST)!

Once registered, you’ll receive updates about the competition and reminders about upcoming deadlines.

Step 3: Pick your team or participate individually

You can apply for Map the System as an individual or in a team of up to five people.

Top Tips to Find Teammates:

  1. Reach out to classmates and friends.
  2. Make a short presentation in class to share your involvement and search for teammates.
  3. Connect with clubs or groups where you are a member or that are relevant to your issue area.
  4. Talk to your professors and TA’s. Remember your teammates do not have to be current students.

Step 4: Work on your research submission

Support for your visual map, research process and final report can be found through: the below listed resources, one-on-one advising and the Canvas page.

Step 5: Submit final research documents

Your final submissions for the UBC competition are due April 2, 2021. Please submit all the final documents here (https://fs24.formsite.com/vwIEr0/MTSCanada2021/index.html).

  • All participant submissions will be evaluated, and all teams will present their findings at the UBC Semi-Final competition between April 7 and 9, 2021

Step 6: The UBC Semi-Final and Final

  • The UBC Semi-Final will be hosted between: April 7 and 9, 2021
  • All student teams will attend the UBC Semi-Final and present their research
  • Selected top 5 teams will advance to the UBC Final
  • The UBC Final will be hosted on: April 16, 2021 5-7pm (PST)
  • Presentations at the Final Competition will be 8-10 minutes long, with an additional Q&A session from the judges.
  • The winning UBC Finalist Team will represent UBC at the Map the System Canadian Final on May 5-7, 2021

What do I submit?

Participants submit 3 things:

  1. A visual map – The visual map represents your research in an accessible, and succinct manner. This map can take different formats including Prezis, infographics, and PowerPoint presentations. 
  2. An analysis of your research – This is an opportunity for you to present an analysis of your findings in up to 3,000 words (excluding footnotes). This can be a written report or a presentation. See previous reports from global finalists here!
  3. Bibliography – It is extremely important that you cite the sources that you have learned from, and we encourage you to engage with a diverse range of sources including community-based knowledge through interviews. Please use Harvard, MLA, or other accepted citation formats that you are comfortable with!


Throughout the competition, we will continually update the Canvas page with helpful links and presentation to get the most out of this competition. We will also provide one-on-one support to students through advising sessions, and other support as requested.

Resources from Oxford and Map the System Canada

Have any other questions?


Email us at community.learning@ubc.ca to schedule an advising session or book an appointment via Canvas.

Map the System 2019 Winners

1st Place - The Socio-Environmental Impacts of Microplastics/Microbeads in the Great Lakes

The team examined how microplastics negatively impact various socio-environmental sectors of the Great Lakes. The group identified how microplastic pollution creates potential health risks to marine animals and humans. Furthermore, microplastics increase drinking water contamination and cause economical losses. This phenomena could affect around 3,500 species, 40 million neighbouring inhabitants, including 75 First Nations communities who are dependent on the Great Lakes. Possible interventions to mitigate the microplastic pollution involves the collaboration of multiple individuals, organizations and governmental associations.

2nd Place - Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Canada: Specific Focus on the Downtown East Side of Vancouver

A comprehensive review of the causes and circumstances that have contributed to the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women Crisis across Canada.

3rd Place- Fair Trade Coffee and Poverty Reduction With a Focus on Africa

Hannah's research was focused on fairtrade. Fairtrade is sometimes viewed as a cure all charity-meets-accountability for underdeveloped countries. While its promise to deliver funds from the consumer directly to the producer are good intentioned and equalizing at best, at worst they can reinforce the structural boundaries that are maintaining poverty in the first place. Fairtrade also has undeniable benefits and has helped many coffee farmers achieve greater financial stability, confidence, and funds to put towards their community. In order to fully understand the downfalls and triumphs of Fairtrade, Hannah explored the system as a whole and look at the impacts on different groups.