Questions in Spatial Research
A half semester workshop course on approaches to spatial research for the urban humanities.

Questions in Spatial Research will introduce key concepts required for work with geographic information systems (GIS) and spatial research in the urban humanities.

This is a "making & doing" workshop course and is designed to expand the disciplinary locations in which spatial data analysis takes place.

Through hands-on exercises and weekly assignments participants will develop basic fluency with open-source mapping software, QGIS, methods of data collection and creation, and approaches and concepts in critical spatial analysis and map design.

Questions in Spatial Research is a half semester, 1.5 credit course offered at GSAPP by the Center for Spatial Research and is open to students from across the Columbia University. It will be offered for the first time in Fall 2019. Faculty and doctoral candidates may also apply to participate on a non-credit basis. Enrollment is limited by permission of the instructor. Some students will take this course in conjunction with seminar courses offered in other departments. Faculty interested in pairing their course with Questions in Spatial Research should contact Dare Brawley ( prior to the start of the semester. 

Anticipated Structure and Concepts

Potential modules in the course may include:

The Cartographic View:

  • Basic GIS concepts and techniques applied in QGIS
  • Working with cartographic projections

Making Spatial Datasets

  • Making spatial datasets through observation and sensing
  • Making spatial datasets through archival research

Making Public Work

  • Cartographic design principals
  • Producing public work through interactive maps on the web
Anticipated Learning Objectives

After completing the course participants will:

  • Develop robust familiarity with QGIS and its functions
  • Gain fluency with foundational GIS concepts (including how the GIS data model abstracts geographic phenomena)
  • Understand GIS spatial data types and the kinds of analysis that are possible with each
  • Create new spatial datasets from field observation and participatory sensing
  • Create new spatial datasets from archival sources
  • Transform archival sources into spatial datasets
  • Develop basic familiarity with html, css, and javascript and be able to make a public web-based map
  • Acquire fluency with visual design concepts central to cartographic representations
Sample Tutorials

Sample tutorials are included below, however the topics and datasets covered will change prior to the fall 2019 iteration of Questions in Spatial Research. A full and evolving list of CSR tutorials is available here

Course Tutorials
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