Mapping for the Urban Humanities: A Summer Institute
A summer intensive course on digital mapping for faculty.

Mapping for the Urban Humanities is an intensive workshop on digital mapping designed for humanities faculty from Columbia University and offered through the Center for Spatial Research at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation with support from the Office of the Dean of Humanities. Collaboratively taught in summer 2016 by Dare Brawley, Leah Meisterlin, and Eric Glass.

The course syllabus is available via GitHub here

This hands-on workshop is intended to broaden and transform the disciplinary locations within which data analysis takes place. This workshop will introduce participating faculty to open-source mapping software, QGIS, to methods of data collection and creation, and to approaches and concepts in critical spatial analysis. With support from the course’s three instructors, participating faculty will incorporate newly-acquired spatial analysis skills into course assignments and syllabi. The ultimate aim of the summer intensive is to equip faculty with tools to transform their humanities courses into places where students learn spatial data analytical skills and apply them to humanistic questions. 

The course condenses topics from a semester long introductory GIS course into a two-week hands-on intensive and one-week practicum. Skills based tutorials draw on diverse datasets relevant to investigations in the urban humanities, including: CEISEN’s Gridded Population of the World, UN Population Division national population estimates, the National Historic Geographic Information System’s historic census records, historical rail lines from the University of Nebraska’s Digital History Project, Reference USA records for music industry businesses, American Community Survey demographic data, New York State Board of Education records of schools, and scanned historical maps from Columbia University’s map collection. Course tutorials and lectures have been developed concurrently and will expose faculty to critical approaches in GIS, introductory spatial analysis methods, and modes of data creation.

Structure and Rhythm

Over the course of the first two weeks (May 23-June 3), faculty will learn critical methods in digital mapping and data collection through the use of open-source software (QGIS). The course will meet for 4.5 hours each day in an intensive workshop and lab format. The third week (June 6 -10) will focus on how to incorporate newly acquired skills into course assignments and syllabi and on bolstering relevant skills development, using the syllabi submitted with the application to the course as a starting point. During the third week participation is optional and will be scheduled in individual skill and syllabus workshop sessions. 

Departments Represented in 2016

Anthropology, Architecture, Art History and Archaeology, Department of Classics, Heyman Center for the Humanities, History, Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, Jewish Studies, Journalism, Language Resource Center, Latin American and Iberian Cultures, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies

The courses that faculty have workshoped during the course cut across a wide spectrum of topics including titles such as: "Bombay/Mumbai and its Urban Imaginaries", "Democratizing Architecture," "Reading the multilingual city: Linguistic landscapes and urban multilingualism," "The Greek city-state in world-history 1000 BCE-400 CE," "Geopolitics." 

Syllabi developed through the course are available below. This will continue to be updated as these courses are introduced into the curriculum.

Course Tutorials
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