Apply for Fall 2017 Student Positions

The Center for Spatial Research is seeking student assistants for the Fall 2017 semester.

Students will be responsible for data analysis, visualization, map design, and will support research on projects dealing with our current research focus: conflict urbanism. Students will work extensively with spatial data including mining and analyzing data, processing and collecting data, and/or visualizing data in compelling and innovative ways. Working in close collaboration with principal investigators, students will produce work for inclusion in papers, multi-media projects, and exhibitions.

Candidates must have experience with GIS and Adobe Creative Suite. In addition, please let us know if you have experience with any of the following tools: Processing, Python, D3, R, APIs, Microsoft Access, SQL, Stata/SPSS, HTML, CSS, and Javascript.

We are seeking candidates who have experience with computational tools but are also eager to acquire additional skills through the course of their work with us. CSR researchers will mentor successful candidates and match them with projects which help them build additional fluencies with computational methods.

Positions are 10-20 hours per week. Hours are negotiated on a per-student basis. All positions are $15/hour. Please note positions are only available for continuing GSAPP students.

Please send a letter of interest, CV, and relevant work examples to info@c4sr.columbia.edu. For further information please visit c4sr.columbia.edu

Applications due September 15, 2017, materials will be reviewed in the order there are received. 

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Mapping for Architecture, Urbanism and the Humanities 
This course provides an introduction to critical mapping theory and geographic information systems tools.
   
Description

We are in the midst of a technological revolution, resulting in seemingly endless amounts of data and the computing technologies to analyze it. From motion sensing to location tracking to GIS, much of this data is spatial, resulting in the ability to represent and understand the world and our relationship to in in new and previously impossibly ways. In response, our relationship to the spaces we inhabit and those that we don't has shifted: we are challenged to make sense of spaces we have never visited, and deeply analyze those that we frequent.

This course provides an introduction to critical mapping theory and geographic information systems tools. Of particular interest to Humanities students, we will address both historical and contemporary questions of space and mapping. Through the use of open-source GIS software (qGIS) and open data (OpenStreetMap) students will learn how to critically use mapping tools and geographic data for spatial analysis and representation. In addition to using existing data, students will also be able to create or bring their own sets of data and questions from other courses and will be able to work with these in our class.

Using a hybrid flipped-classroom/seminar approach, students will work through web tutorials and hands-on in-class exercises to gain a better understanding of how these tools and data can be leveraged to analyze, represent and study past or present urban phenomena.

 
Conflict Urbanism: InfraPolitics
This seminar focuses on infrastructure as a major force in shaping cities, as well as a medium through which the politics of urbanization is visible. 
   
Description

This seminar focuses on infrastructure as a major force in shaping cities, as well as a medium through which the politics of urbanization is visible. Our work will address historical comparison and the politics of mapping by focusing on three cities and three continents – Mumbai, Johannesburg and Medellin.

The cities have been chosen because they offer important ways to think about how infrastructure organizes social life, and its ongoing political effects. By exploring different histories of how space is governed, segregated, or utilized as a key economic resource, we want seminar participants to think about the significance of space and spatial regulation in structuring social relations.

Our work will be organized around a set of keywords: informality (Mumbai), apartheid (Johannesburg), and populism (Medellin)--that are entry points for thinking about the infrastructure of inequality. Each of the case studies uses a critical event as a point of entry for asking how land, capital, government, and the social relations of daily life structure, and are in turn structured by spatial order.

Visualizing and mapping thus form key techniques for linking urban history with contemporary urbanism, and for thinking about the materiality of spatial politics.

Note: This is the third in a series of multidisciplinary Mellon seminars on the topic of Conflict Urbanism, as part of a multi-university initiative in Architecture, Urbanism and the Humanities.    

This year Conflict Urbanism is being offered in the Fall, and not in the Spring semester.

 
Fall 2017 GIS Workshops

The Center for Spatial Research will be offering a workshop series in fall 2017 designed to give a basic introduction to core concepts and methods for work with geographic information systems in the urban humanities. The hands-on workshop series aims to contribute to existing campus-wide GIS resources, and is thus tailored to students doing coursework and research in the urban humanities with no prior GIS experience. It is open to students from all schools at Columbia University.

Interested participants must register for one session of each workshop. The registration period closed on September 22nd.

Participants must bring their own laptop to each session – workshops will use QGIS a free and open source software that runs on both Mac and Windows operating systems. 

Thinking in Space: an Introduction to QGIS (3 hours)

Session A: September 26, 5-8pm; Session B – September 29, 1-4pm

This workshop will introduce participants to core concepts of geographic information systems (GIS) through the open source GIS software QGIS. Participants will learn how to create maps of existing spatial datasets, formulate and answer spatial questions, and design compelling maps.

After this workshop participants will be able to:

  • Add layers to a map project
  • Comprehend the components of a shapefile
  • Design a compelling map composition
  • Perform basic queries on a GIS dataset, using both tabular and spatial queries 
  • Perform a table join to add additional data to an existing shapefile’s attribute table

Data in Space: Creating Spatial Data from Historical or Analog Sources (3 hours)

Session A – October 10, 5-8pm; Session B – October 13, 1-4pm

This workshop will introduce participants to methods for creating data for historical GIS applications. The workshop will cover how to give geographic coordinates (georeference) scanned historical maps using QGIS, as well as how to digitize (trace) features from this scanned map to create new shapefiles. These are two key ways of creating spatial data from historical or other sources. Additional online tools for georeferencing scanned maps will also be introduced.

After this workshop participants will be able to:

  • Gain fluency in geo-referencing scanned paper maps
  • Understand how to create new datasets by digitizing features from a scanned paper map
  • Understand principals behind how to encode qualitative or quantitative data in spreadsheets to work with in a GIS
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TUTORIAL
TUTORIAL
 
Project
Visualizing the Victims of the Colombian Conflict
person role
Author(s): 
Juan Francisco Saldarriaga
Publication date: 
Friday, March 10, 2017
Publication name, page number: 
Yuca
Description (optional): 
This article published by Yuca magazine describes the Conflict Urbanism: Colombia project. In it, Juan Francisco Saldarriaga describes how, having grown up in Colombia, working on this project has changed his understanding of the conflict. The article describes the maps, graphs, color pixels, and thickening lines that have shown the size and magnitude of the worst massacres, revealed the moments and events that caused stakeholders to change positions, and made evident the constant and painful journeys of the displaced and other victims.
Initiative: 
Intro text (homepage): 
This article published by Yuca magazine describes the Conflict Urbanism: Colombia project. In it, Juan Francisco Saldarriaga describes how, having grown up in Colombia, working on this project has changed his understanding of the conflict. The article describes the maps, graphs, color pixels, and thickening lines that have shown the size and magnitude of the worst massacres, revealed the moments and events that caused stakeholders to change positions, and made evident the constant and painful journeys of the displaced and other victims.
Lead image: 
Author Last Names for table: 
Saldarriaga
Publication short title (carousel): 
Visualizing the Victims of the Colombian Conflict
Is Website?: 
no
dashboard_sort_date: 
Friday, March 10, 2017
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Project
Conflict Urbanism, Aleppo: Mapping Urban Damage
person role
Author(s): 
Laura Kurgan
Publication date: 
Sunday, January 1, 2017
Publication name, page number: 
AD / Architectural Design
Description (optional): 
One of the oldest continuously inhabited cities on the planet, Aleppo now lies in tatters. This devastation of a designated World Heritage Site is a poignant example of the human and cultural cost of armed conflict – in this case the Syrian Civil War. The Center for Spatial Research has analyzed satellite imagery and reports from the ground to assess the damage in Aleppo. In this article, Laura Kurgan discusses the initiative and its sometimes puzzling findings.
Initiative: 
Intro text (homepage): 
In this article for Architectural Design, Laura Kurgan discusses the Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo project and its sometimes puzzling findings. One of the oldest continuously inhabited cities on the planet, Aleppo now lies in tatters. This devastation of a designated World Heritage Site is a poignant example of the human and cultural cost of armed conflict – in this case the Syrian Civil War. The Center for Spatial Research has analyzed satellite imagery and reports from the ground to assess the damage in Aleppo.
Lead image: 
Author C4SR: 
Author Last Names for table: 
Kurgan
Publication short title (carousel): 
Conflict Urbanism, Aleppo: Mapping Urban Damage
Is Website?: 
no
dashboard_sort_date: 
Sunday, January 1, 2017
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Project
Visualizing Conflict: Possibilities for Urban Research
person role
Author(s): 
Juan Francisco Saldarriaga, Laura Kurgan, Dare Brawley
Publication date: 
Tuesday, April 4, 2017
Publication name, page number: 
Urban Planning
Description (optional): 
The Center for Spatial Research (CSR) is undertaking a multiyear project investigating what we have termed Conflict Urbanism. The term designates not simply the conflicts that take place in cities, but also conflict as a structuring principle of cities intrinsically, as a way of inhabiting and creating urban space. The increasing urbanization of warfare are examples of the term but conflict is not limited to war and violence. Cities are not only destroyed but also built through conflict. They have long been arenas of friction, difference, and dissidence, and their irreducibly conflictual character manifests itself in everything from neighborhood borders, to differences of opinion and status, to ordinary encounters on the street. This article discusses two projects currently under way at CSR that use mapping and data visualization to explore and analyze Conflict Urbanism in two different contexts: the city of Aleppo, and the nation of Colombia.
Initiative: 
Intro text (homepage): 
This article, published by the open access journal Urban Planning, outlines recent work as part of the multiyear Conflict Urbanism project. This article discusses two projects currently under way that use mapping and data visualization to explore and analyze Conflict Urbanism in two different contexts: the city of Aleppo, and the nation of Colombia. Both projects interrogate the world of ‘big data,’ as a means to open up new areas of research and inquiry, but with a particular focus on data literacy as an essential part of communicating with these new forms of urban information.
Lead image: 
Author Last Names for table: 
Saldarriaga, Kurgan, Brawley
Publication short title (carousel): 
Visualizing Conflict: Possibilities for Urban Research
Is Website?: 
no
dashboard_sort_date: 
Tuesday, April 4, 2017
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ProPublica Article Features Million Dollar Blocks

The Million Dollar Blocks project was featured in a recent article about countering bias in data driven journalism published by ProPublica. Author, Lena Groeger, describes the myriad ways that journalistic projects are (often unwittingly) biased from their outset as a result of design decisions made by their authors. Groeger highlights the Million Dollar Blocks project’s approach to investigating the criminal justice system, namely investigating the geographies of incarceration rather than the geographies of crime, as a counter example to standard narratives about the justice system.  

Read the full article here

 

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