Posted on March 15, 2017 by Center for Spatial Research

The Center for Spatial Research is seeking student candidates for both full-time and part-time positions during Summer 2017.

Students will be responsible for data analysis, visualization, map design, and 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, a working knowledge of some of the following tools is a plus: 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 internship. CSR researchers will mentor successful candidates and match them with projects which help them build additional fluencies with computational methods.

Full-time positions are 35 hours per week for up to twelve weeks. Part-time work will be negotiated by student/project. All positions are $15/hour. Please note positions are only available for continuing students at Columbia University. 

Please send a letter of interest, CV, and relevant work examples to

Applications will be reviewed in the order there are received. 

Posted on January 27, 2017 by Center for Spatial Research

"Access to Taxicabs for Unbanked Households: An Exploratory Analysis in New York City," by David King and CSR Research Scholar, Juan Francisco Saldarriaga has been published in the Journal of Public Transportation. In this paper, we used multiple datasets to explore taxicab fare payments by neighborhood and examine how paid taxicab fares are associated with use of conventional banking services

Abstract: Taxicabs are critical complements to public transit systems. In New York City, ubiquitous yellow cabs are as iconic as the city’s subway system, and the city recently added green taxicabs to improve taxi service in areas outside of the Central Business Districts and airports. In this paper, we used multiple datasets to explore taxicab fare payments by neighborhood and examine how paid taxicab fares are associated with use of conventional banking services. There are clear spatial dimensions of the propensity of riders to pay cash, and we found that both immigrant status and being “unbanked” are strong predictors of cash transactions. These results have implications for local regulations of the for-hire vehicle industry, particularly in the context of the rapid growth of services that require credit cards to use. At the very least, existing and new providers of transit services must consider access to mainstream financial products as part of their equity analyses.

Download the full article here


Posted on January 20, 2017 by Center for Spatial Research

Conflict Urbanism: Language Justice Lecture Series

Please join us this spring for “Conflict Urbanism: Language Justice.” This public lecture series aims to explore the role of language in structuring cities, bringing together speakers to address the ways that urban spaces and their digital traces are physically shaped by linguistic diversity, and to examine the results of languages coming into contact and conflict. It is running in conjunction with a graduate-level seminar of the same title.  Cosponsored by the Center for Spatial Research and the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society.
February 16, 6:30 pm
Understanding the Long Tail of Linguistic Diversity in New York City​
Daniel Kaufman, Endangered Languages Alliance and Queens College, CUNY
Ware Lounge, Avery Hall
February 23, 6 pm
‘Together We Can Create a Freer Future’: Digital Language Activism, Challenging and Reproducing Hegemonies
Ana Deumert, University of Cape Town
Kent Lounge, 403 Kent Hall
March 10, 11am
Language Traffic: Translating Across Urban Space
Sherry Simon, Concordia University
Ware Lounge

Posted on January 19, 2017 by Center for Spatial Research

Michelle McSweeney and Dare Brawley will offer two introductory GIS workshops as part of this year’s New York City Digital Humanities Week. NYCDH Week offers students, faculty, librarians, and researchers the opportunity to take advantage of workshops in the digital humanities offered at universities across the city. Check out the full schedule of NYCDH Week workshops here. All workshops are free and open to the public.

This year the Center for Spatial Research will offer two workshops, both hosted at Studio@Butler:

Introduction to Mapping with QGIS
February 7 from 3 – 5pm
Please register here.

Making Maps into Webmaps with Leaflet.js
February 8 from 1 – 3pm
Please register here.

We hope you can join us!

Posted on January 1, 2017 by Center for Spatial Research

Laura Kurgan, Director Center for Spatial Research, was interviewed by Noah Chasin for the Winter 2017 issue of Bomb Magazine. The interview covers her work at the Center for Spatial Research and its antecedents in the work of the Spatial Information Design Lab.

Chasin writes, “CSR is at the forefront of a movement to situate data visualization at the heart of an interdisciplinary academic context working in a social justice framework and linked to an increasingly complex network of groups, advocates, and affiliated players.”

Read the full interview here

Posted on December 9, 2016 by Center for Spatial Research
Above: faculty participants collaboratively developing mapping-based assignments during the Summer 2016 Mapping for the Urban Humanities course.

With the Dean of Humanities we are pleased to invite interested Columbia University faculty to participate in Mapping for the Urban Humanities: A Summer Institute.

During the two-week Mellon-funded "bootcamp" faculty will learn key skills in mapping, data visualization, and data collection that they can incorporate into their research and teaching. Space is limited. Interested faculty are encouraged to apply by January 27, 2017.

About the Workshop: The workshop will be held from 1:00-5:30pmMay 22, 2017 – June 2, 2017 with an optional third week practicum from June 5-9, 2017. No class will be held on Memorial Day, May 29. If you are interested in taking the course but the timing poses a problem please email Dare Brawley ( with the dates and times you could commit to attending. 

Eligibility: This course is open to faculty from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Barnard College and to research scholars and doctoral candidates.

Our Motivations: Today, ever-increasing quantities of data are available to scholars and urbanists. However, work with data has largely been the province of data-scientists and policy-oriented social scientists, who have not always been eager to interrogate the limits of their data. Conversely, scholars in the humanities and design practitioners who could offer important critical perspectives on data often lack the technical training to understand data-driven tools and methods. 

The institute will give professors of the urban humanities the ability to make their courses places where students who might not otherwise take computer science classes can learn how to use computational tools to tackle humanistic questions. Students who sign up to learn about nineteenth century Bombay or London in the novels of Charles Dickens will complete their courses having also become conversant with GIS, HTML, Excel, and Python. This summer intensive faculty workshop is the first step in adapting a "writing across the curriculum" model to working with data.

More information about the course as well as materials from the summer 2016 course, including the syllabi that were developed during that course are available here.

How to Apply: Interested faculty should apply by sending the following materials to by January 27, 2017.

  • A one page statement that describes your interest in acquiring digital and computational skills.
  • The course syllabus, or research brief, that you hope to workshop during the summer intensive.  
Posted on October 22, 2016 by Center for Spatial Research

Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo is on view at the 2016 Istanbul Design Biennale from October 22, 2016 to November 20, 2016. The Biennale is titled “Are We Human?” and presents projects that stretch “from the last 2 seconds to the last 200,000 years.”

Our exhibit is on view in the Istanbul Archaeology Museum and presents two zooms from high-resolution satellite images of Aleppo at the scale of 1:1000. For every one unit of space in the gallery, the corresponding space in Aleppo is one thousand times larger. Visitors can also browse the Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo interactive map and case studies including a case study on the “Time Scales of Aleppo” researched and written for the exhibition.

Exhibition photos by Sahir Ugur Eren.

Posted on October 20, 2016 by Center for Spatial Research

On October 20, 2016 Laura Kurgan spoke about the Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo project as part of SUPERHUMANITY TALKS, a panel event at the 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial presented by e-flux Architecture.

Laura Kurgan spoke about the Center for Spatial Research’s work on Conflict Urbanism Aleppo in relation to e-flux’s provocation:

Superhumanity aims to explore and challenge our understanding of “design” by probing the idea that we are and always have been continuously reshaped by the artifacts we shape, to which we ask: who designed the lives we live today? What are the forms of life we inhabit, and what new forms are currently being designed? Where are the sites, and what are the techniques, to design others?”

View the recording of the panel event. 

Posted on October 19, 2016 by Center for Spatial Research

Conflict Urbanism: Colombia was named a winning entry of the CityVis Competition at the Habitat III conference in Quito. The competition was organized by University of Applied Sciences in Potsdam, Germany and the Future Earth Media Lab.

We are thrilled to have been selected as a winner!

Read more about the competition and the Visualizing Cities platform here

Posted on October 7, 2016 by Center for Spatial Research

To mark its inaugural year, The Center for Spatial Research will present its work on "conflict urbanism" in Aleppo, and Colombia. The event will engage participants in a discussion about the role of conflict in structuring urban space and the politics of representation in zones of discordance, disruption and violence as it contributes to the making and remaking of cities. Friday, October 7, 2016 at 1:30pm in Ware Lounge, Avery Hall.

Watch the recording of the event. 

The roundtable will feature Eyal Weizman, Professor of Spatial and Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London and Director of the Centre for Research Architecture and Enrico Bertini, Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at NYU Tandon School of Engineering as respondents to the work presented by CSR researchers and students: Laura KurganJuan Francisco SaldarriagaGrga BasicDare BrawleyViolet Whitney, and Michael Storm

The center point of Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo is an interactive web-based map representing the intensifying violence in urban Aleppo after five years of civil war in Syria. The map combines layers of high-resolution satellite images together with data gathered from multiple perspectives and sources to show the historic city from 2012 to the present. Using the logic of a typical geographic information system (GIS) map, the Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo project overlaps these layers, as it explores two kinds of evidence: evidence about the physical destruction of the city and evidence about how urban warfare is tracked and monitored from a distance.

Conflict Urbanism: Colombia traces the trajectories of Colombians who were forcibly displaced between 1985 and 2016 as a result of the decades long conflict between state and non-state actors. The project visualizes conflict at the scale of the country through a single government-created dataset that will shape transitional justice efforts. The visualizations that have resulted reveal the paths of more than eight million people displaced by war while critically examining how this conflict has been recorded. Conflict Urbanism: Colombia is a collaboration with the Masters on Peacebuilding at Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia.