Map the System 2020: Meet our National Finalists

MRU to Compete in Fourth Consecutive Map the System Global Final

Once again, Mount Royal University and the Institute for Community Prosperity will be sending a team to the Map the System (MTS) virtual Global Final. Ashley Dion, Jillian Mah and Matthew Taburada placed top 6 at the MTS Canadian Final, earning a coveted spot at the Global Final that is traditionally hosted at Oxford University. While the trio will miss out on the chance to travel abroad and present their findings in person, they will continue to push themselves as they prepare to compete virtually. While Mah (BCOMM  Information Design) and Dion (BBA General Management) both call MRU home, Taburada joins the team from Ambrose University and brings his background in behavioural science.


Ambrose University does not yet run MTS on campus; however, Matthew was able to join up with Mah and Dion after attending a MTS mixer hosted by ICP and MRU’s MTS Campus Lead, Ashleigh Metcs. Together, the trio brings a range of talents that have proven useful as they’ve navigated various stages of the competition.


While many Map the System participants choose to focus on systems in healthcare, food security or the environment, team MRU chose to unpack the Canadian charitable system. Any systems thinker can agree that this is a very complex system. Dion explained that not even academics are willing to wet their toes with it, “The biggest challenge we faced was that the charity system was so vast and not commonly looked at so there were not a lot of Canadian academic articles on it.” Nevertheless, the team did not let this stop them. They started by taking bite size pieces and expanded their findings as points in the system started to connect. The result? A rich research paper and an impressive, complex systems map. Information Design student, Mah, accredits a lot of their success to her background in systems mapping. Mah explains, “As a graduate from the Information Design program, breaking the information down into digestible pieces was natural to me. Making sense of complexity and creating positive change is what my education at MRU was all about.”


While the team found significant gaps in their own research due to a lack of academic material, they showed incredible resiliency by virtually interviewing ten knowledgeable experts working within the space. The team left no stone unturned in their research—all while finishing their winter semester and navigating the COVID-19 pandemic.


According to the team the pandemic has impacted the way the trio looked at certain holes within the cucurrent charitable system in Canada. The pandemic has proven that some of the holes in the boat are much larger than they originally anticipated. In such changing times, it makes sense that the models and systems we use must change too. As Taburada explains, “While times are difficult, I think that there is opportunity for change and evolution. This is a season for honest reflection as many people are in a sort of "intermission" in life; now is the time to brainstorm changes that put people first.” Mah echoes this by suggesting a two pronged learning curve: “Charities cannot act alone, social change is about partnerships, collaboration, and a common goal, not just money. You need to consider the broader environment. Business skills are also valuable. Charity is also restricted by our mental models. Find ways to change how people think about charity by advocating and selling your value.”


With only two short weeks before the global competition, the team is more focused than ever as they polish their presentation for an international audience. As their Map the System journey is approaching the finish line, the soon to be Map the System alumni expressed, “just do it! Sign up, you won’t regret it! It sounds like a lot of work but it is so rewarding to know your research is making a difference in the world even if you don’t win!”





The Insitute for Community Prosperity and The McConnell Foundation hosted the first virtual Map the System Canadian final. 16 schools from across the country showed exceptional research and mapping skills through video submissions, writing and systems mapping. To learn more about all of the submssions at this year's compeition, visit the Map the System Canada Youtube channel.