Submission Guidelines


Submission Guidelines


Submission Format

Participants are expected to take a system thinking approach to their research analysis and present their findings in three ways, that require three sets of storytelling skills: visual, written, and verbal.


The submission components include:


  1. A visual systems map
  2. A written summary of research findings (max 3,000 words) and detailed bibliography
  3. A 10-minute verbal presentation followed by Q&A from judges. (for teams that are selected to present at a local final or advance to the Global Final)


We have provided a brief introduction to each submission component below.


Visual Systems Map

For the first submission component, participants are required to visually present their findings in the form of a visual systems map. Participants will not only need to demonstrate the importance and complexity of the chosen social or environmental challenge, but also make it accessible, engaging, and clearly understandable by a wider audience.


While participants are not expected to map every component within their system, it is expected that participants go beyond merely creating a network map, an actor map, or a stakeholder map. Participants should focus their efforts only on the components that are relevant in telling the story and necessary to highlight in order to understand the current results of the system — that is, which elements are necessary to explain the current state of the system, including the identification of essential pieces necessary for transformation.


The idea is to make the research accessible and dynamic to a wider audience and to help people comprehend the importance and complexity of the chosen challenge.


  • It should be a visualisation which shows how the different parts of the system interact with each other to produce the challenge.
  • It should clearly show the relationships between the different parts of the system.
  • It should show how the combination of these relationships is giving rise to the particular challenge. So, for example, you’d expect to see how these relationships combine to form feedback loops.


Submission Format: Participants may submit their systems map in any visual format they like - e.g. PowerPoint, Prezi, PDF, infographic, website, Kumu, Plectica, etc.


Written Summary of Research

For the second submission component, participants must accompany their visual systems map with a written summary of their research findings. The purpose of the written research summary is to provide a complementary narrative supplementto their systems map and should also include key insights and lessons learned in their system analysis and insights gathered from the research conducted on the challenge.


Submission Format: Word file (.doc or .docx) and must not exceed 3,000 words, excluding footnotes.


Detailed Bibliography

For the third submission component, participants must submit a detailed bibliography that cites the sources used throughout the research. It should include a diverse range of sources and materials, from academic texts and articles to op-eds and first-person interviews. When possible, participants should include links so that the reader can navigate to the source themselves, and so that participants can support the future research of others interested in the topic.


Submission Format: Word file (.doc or .docx)


Verbal Presentation

Participants will have an opportunity to briefly present the context of their challenge through a systems thinking lens, highlighting the most important aspects of their systems analysis. Participants are required to demonstrate their understanding of the broader system in which their challenge exists: what are the root causes of the problem, and what might be the elements necessary for transformation? Participants are not asked to provide a solution, but rather to highlight an understanding of the current state of their challenge. Participants should also be able to articulate the new perspective that systems thinking brings to their complex challenge: any assumptions, systemic patterns, connections, gaps, and potential levers of change that the systems analysis has surfaced.


The presentation is the part of this competition that most closely mimics a pitch competition, but only insofar as participants are telling a story. It is less about persuading the judges, and more about impressing on them the depth of research and learning journey, as well as the ability to see connections, gaps, and potential levers of change.