Spatial History and Historical GIS
This course introduces students to the emerging methodologies that combine geographic information systems (GIS) with historical thinking.
   
Description

This course introduces the emerging methodologies that combines geographic information systems (GIS) with traditional “historical thinking.” There are three goals for this course. First, students will learn basic technical skills in GIS used by spatial historians. Students are not required to have prior experience in GIS to enroll in this course, but basic computer literacy is essential. Second, through weekly readings, students will engage with scholarship/projects that use historical geographic information systems (HGIS) and with the broader spatial humanities. Students will be encouraged to consider the new topics/questions historians are investigating with HGIS and the new evidence HGIS provides to historiographical debates. The readings on HGIS research serve as starting points for class discussions on the strengths and limitations of this new methodology. Additional readings on HGIS methods provide examples of analytical tools, and students will be challenged to think of new methods that can aid in answering historiographical questions as well. Finally, students will undertake a small spatial history project. Through this research project, students will learn research and project management skills, which are increasingly necessary for historians in the digital age, while refining an intervention in the historiography.

Mapping Historical New York City
A collaboration to map immigration and neighborhood change in New York City during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
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Mapping Historical New York, through web-based, interactive maps, reconstructs the demographic and structural shifts of Manhattan and Brooklyn between 1850 and 1920. During this period, the city grew and diversified through the arrival of large groups of immigrants. Furthermore, the city boundaries expanded in the late 1890s to include a major section of Long Island specifically Brooklyn and Queens.

Through a three year collaboration between the Center for Spatial Research and the Department of History, Historical New York City uses historical GIS and spatial history to develop new understanding of the magnitude of the changes that took place across this time.

The project team is digitizing maps of Manhattan and Brooklyn and integrating individual-level records from historical US Censuses to build a comprehensive web-based resource for researchers and students interested in New York City’s history. In addition to producing maps and analysis for the city as a whole, the project plans to develop detailed case studies designed to deepen engagement with the digitized historical maps and demographic datasets at the neighborhood level. The resulting maps, tools, and information will be accessible to the public.

In addition to the public-facing, interactive webmap, the project aims to train faculty and students in digital research and teaching methods. Courses on historical New York, immigration, urban history, and spatial history, offered in conjunction with project responsibilities, promote faculty and student involvement in the project’s design, development, and production.

Funding for this project is provided by the Robert D. L. Gardiner Foundation.

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Apply for Fall 2018 Student Positions

The Center for Spatial Research is seeking student assistants for the Fall 2018 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 10-15 hours per week. Hours are negotiated on a per-student basis. All positions are $16/hour. Please note positions are only available for continuing Columbia University students.

Please send a letter of interest, CV, and relevant work examples to info@c4sr.columbia.edu

Applications due September 14, 2018, materials will be reviewed in the order there are received. 

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Mapping for Architecture, Urbanism and the Humanities
This hybrid theory/practice course provides an introduction to critical mapping discourse and geographic information systems tools. Fall 2018.
   
Description

What role does cartography play in our relationship to space? How does technology make sense of places to which we have never been? Through what material practices are data produced, and how are they located? As a result, what cultural attitudes inhabit our maps, how do they (re)produce our environment, and how can they be contested?

This hybrid theory/practice course provides an introduction to critical mapping discourse and geographic information systems tools. Of particular interest to humanities students, it examines both historical and contemporary questions with reference to the technology of mapping. Additionally, through the use of open-source GIS software (QGIS), browser-based technologies (Mapbox, Mongo DB), and open data (OpenStreetMap), students will learn how to critically use mapping tools and geographic data for spatial analysis and representation. Each class has two parts as a result: in the first half of each meeting we will discuss weekly readings, while the second half serves as a flipped-classroom to address technical and conceptual issues arising from take-home GIS tutorials. The final weeks of the semester will be devoted to developing students' own critical cartographic research.

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • critically read a map
  • investigate the cultural attitudes and technologies behind cartographic practices
  • use QGIS to analyze and present geographic information
  • build location aware dynamic maps for mobile devices
  • make intentional design decisions when creating maps

 

Fall 2018 Registration

Fridays 9 -11am 

408 Avery Hall 

3 points

Call number: 78446

Open to students within GSAS, GSAPP, Barnard and Columbia Colleges, and others by permission.

In Plain Sight
An immersive installation in the US Pavilion at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia.
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In Plain Sight presents anomalies in population distribution seen in nighttime satellite imagery of Earth and census grid counts produced by governments worldwide — revealing places with bright lights and no people and places with people and no lights—thus, challenging our assumptions about geographies of belonging and exclusion.

The project was tasked with interrogating the relationship between citizenship and the built environment at the scale of the globe, where the primacy of the individual, the city, and even the nation drops away and is replaced by data: electricity, trade routes, migratory shifts, and the flow of capital, goods and people.

The installation is a collaboration between Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Laura Kurgan, and Robert Gerard Pietrusko with the Center for Spatial Research, and will be on view from May 26 through November 25, 2018. The installation is conceived and designed for Dimensions of Citizenship, the US Pavilion at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, commissioned by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and The University of Chicago.

View the full project video here

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In Plain Sight at the 2018 Venice Biennale of Architecture
Image still from In Plain Sight

In Plain Sight, a collaboration between Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Laura Kurgan, and Robert Gerard Pietrusko with the Center for Spatial Research, will open on May 26, 2018 in Venice, Italy.

The installation is conceived and designed for Dimensions of Citizenship, the US Pavilion at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, commissioned by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and The University of Chicago. The installation will be on view through November 25.

In Plain Sight presents anomalies in population distribution seen in nighttime satellite imagery of Earth and census grid counts produced by governments worldwide — revealing places with bright lights and no people and places with people and no lights—thus, challenging our assumptions about geographies of belonging and exclusion.

Several events are planned during the opening weekend, May 24-27, featuring project collaborators Laura Kurgan, Elizabeth Diller, Robert Pietrusko. See the full schedule of events on the Dimensions of Citizenship website here.

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Apply for Summer 2018 Student Positions

The Center for Spatial Research is seeking student candidates for both full-time and part-time positions during Summer 2018.

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. Positions open to both graduate and undergraduate students. 

Please send a letter of interest, CV, and relevant work examples to info@c4sr.columbia.edu with the subject "Application: Summer 2018 Student Positions". 

Applications will be reviewed in the order there are received. 

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Conflict Urbanism: Urban Language Ecologies
A series of projects that explore the role that language plays in shaping urban space.
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Conflict Urbanism: Language Ecologies explores the role that language plays in shaping urban space. This project grew out of the Spring 2017 seminar, Conflict Urbanism: Language Justice.

Language interacts with its environment at multiple scales and with diverse media. As an ecology, language either dominates, or is vulnerable to its host environments. In this way it often makes conflict visible in urban settings.  

Language works in extraordinary ways – multilingualism can divide a local community and simultaneously connect a global community. Language also works in the most ordinary ways – it mediates nearly every human interaction, from fulfilling the most basic needs to communicating the most abstract ideas.

We have collaborated with the Endangered Language Alliance to build a map which visualizes the incredible diversity of languages spoken in New York City focusing on the most vulnerable languages. We have also worked on a series of case studies about language in New York City. Our research shows that typical maps represent monolingualism very well, drawing boundaries around ethnolinguistic groups; but language ecology, especially in urban areas, is one of both community as well as individual multilingualism. Each case study seeks to address this by taking innovative and sometimes radical approaches to represent the diversity of languages spoken in New York City. Though the projects focus on New York, the methods of visualization and inquiry extend easily to other multilingual, multinational spaces.

Beyond the Census: Languages of Queens map.

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Points Unknown: Cartographic Narratives
Points Unknown is a curriculum that will train journalism and architecture students in GIS and mapping techniques.
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Spatial training paired with journalism can serve as a missing “integrator” of data and the real world—providing lessons that travel beyond the boroughs of New York. A wide array of available spatial-visualization tools can extend journalistic practice, helping reporters better find, understand, and tell stories. These same tools can expose the invisible spaces, forces, and environments that architecture, urban design, and planning students must engage, navigate, and learn to represent as part of their spatial toolkit.

Points Unknown will train journalism and architecture students in GIS and mapping techniques, and will prompt them to ask questions such as: What data are made public? What do they say about life in the city? How are neighborhoods rendered in data and what are the consequences of those representations? What undiscovered stories can be found in visualizing geographies of data?

Annotated map of Chelsea Neighborhood from course exercises. 

False color image of flood prone Houston suburbs.

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Call for Applications: Research Scholar for Historical GIS and Visualization

The Center for Spatial Research is pleased to announce a call for applications for a full-time Associate Research Scholar position for the 2018-2019 academic year.

The position, within the Center for Spatial Research (CSR) will focus on critical work with Geographic Information Systems and design for a new grant-funded project mapping historical New York. We invite applications from candidates with a strong interest in interdisciplinary work whose research practices combine GIS-based methods and strong visual design. The position is for one year and renewable for up to three additional semesters.

The position will report to the Director of CSR and will be part of a collaborative project team between CSR and the Department of History. The incumbent will work closely with a postdoctoral fellow in History and Principal Investigators to: develop methodologies for historical geographic information systems research, including geocoding census records; create compelling visualizations of research outcomes for broad public audiences; participate in writing and creating maps and visualizations for papers and other publications in journal and multimedia formats; and develop curricula and teaching materials related to this research. Successful candidates must have experience and interest in using GIS-based research practices to open up new questions in, and modes of representation of, urban environments.

Position Qualifications:

Candidates must hold a Master’s degree or the equivalent. Successful candidates will have robust experience with GIS-based research, and methodology design as well as a range of other computational tools for urban research and must be eager to acquire additional skills through their work with CSR. Experience with historical GIS research is a plus.

The Center’s projects typically draw on a range of tools including: GIS (ESRI and Open Source); R; Python; Adobe Creative Suite; mapping and visualization libraries such as Leaflet, Processing, D3, APIs, HTML5, CSS and Javascript. The candidate is not required to know all of these tools, but a willingness to learn new software, the most up to date tools, and a collaborative spirit is a requirement of the job.

Candidates will have the ability to do collaborative and cross-disciplinary research and the ability to convey specialized knowledge to students and faculty working in the Center. Candidates should demonstrate ability to show how their own fields of specialty intersect with or bring new tools and research methods to research in the urban humanities. Preferred qualifications include publication in recognized media and conference presentations.

Candidates for professional officer of research positions are expected to have established their ability to conduct original, independent research a field of the humanities. Associate research scholars' qualifications and contributions to their fields of research must be equivalent to those of an assistant professor.

Please visit our online application site at: https://academicjobs.columbia.edu/applicants/Central?quickFind=65699

for further information about this position and to submit your application. You will be asked to submit your 1-2 page letter of interest, CV, and a portfolio which demonstrates your work and research experiences. Review of applications will begin February 1, 2018 and continue until the position is filled.

Columbia University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

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