Vanderbilt Librarians Join Wond’ry to support Map the System Challenge 

Vanderbilt Libraries are working with the Wond’ry to bolster engagement and success of Map the System, a global challenge focused on addressing social and environmental challenges. Hosted annually by the University of Oxford, Map the System is a renowned global competition encouraging students to use systems thinking to move “toward a focus on deep understanding of complex problems as the foundation for driving transformational change.” Last year, a team of graduate students from Vanderbilt University placed in the global finals, demonstrating the institution’s commitment to exploring innovative approaches to the world’s most pressing problems. This year, the winning Vanderbilt team won a new regional round to compete in July as one of only two global finalists from the United States. 

Librarians HD McKay, Emily Bush, Alex Carroll, and Robbi DePeri deepened the collaboration with the Wond’ry this year by providing valuable resources and expertise, including the creation of a custom resource guide on Brightspace, the university’s learning management system. The librarians presented research strategies and demonstrated key resources to help participants frame their initial topics and plan their stakeholder interviews. They consulted with the winning team and provided feedback at critical moments during the research process. McKay went above and beyond to help with the planning and reflection phases of the local competition, in addition to volunteering for the competition itself.   

HD McKay and the librarian team worked closely with Jackie Hansom, the program manager for social innovation at the Wond’ry, to kick off the program with an inaugural workshop held research consultations, supported the successful execution of the final event, and provided timely feedback and suggestions to the winning team in preparation for their regional round. For next year, the team is exploring ways to help showcase student work, co-sponsor timely thematic programming, and celebrate student achievements in creative ways. This ongoing partnership underscores the libraries’ commitment to enriching student experiential learning and deepening engagement across campus.  

“Librarians are the greatest, and the ones helping us out with Map the System made sure we knew about our VU access to newspapers,” commented Jackie Hansom, expressing gratitude for the invaluable support provided by the librarians. She continued, “HD and the library team have been enthusiastic thought partners and collaborators throughout the Map the System program. From the onset, they have expanded our students and our own understanding of resources as well as research methods, and we look forward to continuing to work together as we kick off the next round of Map the System this fall.” 

The Map the System program at Vanderbilt aligns with the university’s commitment to providing engaging opportunities for faculty, students, and staff to actively participate as researchers, scholars, innovators, and problem-solvers. Through interdisciplinary collaboration, students are addressing pressing real-world topics such as climate change, public transit, and racial injustice. The program’s global reach offers the potential for Vanderbilt teams to compete on an international stage.  

The successful integration of librarians into this immersive learning opportunity highlights the commitment to interdisciplinary collaboration and co-curricular learning experiences at Vanderbilt. Jackie Hansom, HD McKay, and the entire librarian team have been instrumental in expanding the boundaries of traditional library liaison roles, enriching student engagement, and adding value to the Map the System presence at Vanderbilt.  

For more information about Map the System at Vanderbilt, please visit