A banana peel has become the central motif of the Czech round of the international student competition Map the System. The Czech round took place earlier this week at Kampus Hybernská. The winning team, consisting of four students from different disciplines at the Faculty of Arts, dealt with how to manage bio-waste from Prague households. With their project they will represent the Czech Republic at the University of Oxford, where the international final of the competition will be held in June. However, as the team members stressed, they are not as interested in winning as finding a practical application for their project.
Map the System is an international student competition organised by the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford. Its aim is to teach undergraduate students to describe a selected problem in the field of health, the economy, climate or society, and to explore tried and tested solutions as well as to design their own. This year is the first time the Czech Republic has participated in the competition through Charles University.
Seven teams bringing together students from across the disciplines and faculties of Charles University competed in the international finals. It is the interdisciplinary nature of the teams that is highly desirable in the search for systemic change. It helps to see the problem from different perspectives. CU students were able to learn the technique of system mapping for the last two semesters through the Map the System course, taught at Kampus Hybernská by Barbora Komberec Novosadová from CU’s Centre for Knowledge and Technology Transfer (CPPT UK). The centre has played a crucial role in exploring new ideas and methods, broadening cross-university cooperation, and facilitating successful cooperation between the public and private sectors.
During the final evening in Prague, each team had seven minutes to present their project. The jury, consisting of Martina Břeňová from the OSF Foundation, CPPT director Hana Kosová, Jiří Bárta from the Via Foundation and consultant and mindfulness trainer Ivo Novotný, judged not only the teams' presentation skills but also their written analyses.
In the end, the jury was most impressed by the four students Barbora Aradská, Kateřina Faltýnková, Kateřina Fantová and Jitka Vlčinská, who dealt with the processing of bio-waste from Prague households. Hana Kosová from CPPT outlined what stood out most about the winning team: “They combined student know-how from several different disciplines, they knew what they wanted to achieve, they had a well-prepared and well-structured presentation and they proposed concrete possible solutions” she emphasised, adding that the Map the System competition gave the students a unique opportunity to learn how to work in an interdisciplinary team and to experience in practice how difficult it is to publically present or debate their topic.
The captivating enthusiasm and convincing presentation of the winning team not only impressed the judges, but also students who attended the event. Their enthusiasm for the common theme, their chemistry and obvious team spirit was radiant, even though they had only met over the project itself. Team member Barbora Aradská explained.
“The project brought us together and motivated us. We knew we had a lot of other responsibilities. I was doing this on top of that. We invested an enormous amount of time in it, but we were still driven by the fact that we were enjoying it so much.” Her colleagues confirmed how well they hit it off and the group worked well together. “We motivate each other, support each other and don't blame each other if someone doesn't keep up. It helps the team to move forward and enjoy their work,” she added.
Right after the award ceremony, the students stressed that their main motivation was not to get to Oxford for the final of the competition, but to put their work into practice. They therefore want to continue to meet the major players involved in waste management, ideally to make a real difference to the current system.
The students introduced their competition presentation by asking what can be done with such a once-ordinary banana peel so that a potentially usable resource is not wasted. At the announcement of the winners at the end, they not only advised the audience where to find the bio-waste bin at Kampus Hybernská Campus, but also urged everyone to get a “brown bin” used for bio-waste from their homes without delay.
The Czech final of the Map the System competition