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Mapping the Coffee System Application: Spring 2021

The Coffee Equity Lab is currently accepting applications for Mapping the Coffee System: Racial Inequity in the US Coffee Industry. All currently enrolled VU undergraduate and graduate students are eligible to apply. Applications due Wed., Jan. 27, 2021 @ 5pm CT.

About the Program

Mapping the Coffee System is a co-curricular program offered through the Coffee Equity Lab at the Wond’ry. The program is part of the global Map the System competition, hosted each year by the Oxford University Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship. Through an 8-week systems thinking sprint, accepted students will work on a small, interdisciplinary team and learn to use systems thinking to analyze the root causes and effects of racial inequity in the US coffee sector, a timely challenge in the industry. Students will also examine why current solutions to the problem may be falling short and what may be done differently to resolve the problem in the future.

Participation Requirements:

  • Currently enrolled Vanderbilt University student, undergraduate or graduate.
  • Ability to dedicate 2-3 hours per week to the team research project between Feb. 1-April, 1, 2021. This may be independent or collaborative work time.
  • Demonstrated ability to virtually work with a team to complete a collaborative project on a tight timeline.
  • Interest in racial justice and racial equity.
  • Interest in learning more about the global coffee industry.
  • Interest in interviewing coffee professionals and industry experts as part of your project.
  • Ability to efficiently complete three required Map the System deliverables no later than March 31, 2021: a 2,500 word (max) summary of research, a visual infographic summarizing key research insights, and a bibliography of all sources used
  • Interest in and ability to present your Mapping the Coffee System research at the VU Map the System Competition on April 15, 2021.

To Apply:

To apply, please send an email to no later than Wednesday, January 27, 2021 at 5pm CT with a .docx or .pdf attachment responding briefly to the following questions:

  • What does racial justice or racial equity mean to you?
  • Why are you interested in learning more about racial inequities in the US coffee industry?
  • Describe your approach to working in a collaborative environment with tight deadlines. What are some strategies you use to foster accountability, co-creation, and timely progress towards team goals?
  • During an interview with a coffee industry expert, what are three questions you’d ask to learn more about racial inequity in the US coffee sector?


If you are an undergraduate student who may be interested in using participation in this program as part of your VU Immersion plan, please make a note in your application.

Notification of Acceptance: We have the capacity to accept up to four students for this opportunity. Accepted students will be notified via email no later than Friday, Jan. 29 @ 5pmCT. Mapping the Coffee System will begin the week of Feb. 1, 2021.

Contact Hanes Motsinger at