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Course Syllabi From Leading Researchers in Spatial Social Science

Anthropology Archaeology Criminology Demography Economics
Environment & Resources Geographical Information Science
History Human Geography Poltical Science Public Health Sociology
Spatially Integrated Social Science Urban Studies and Urban Planning


Photo by Susan BaumgartThis page provides links to syllabi of courses taught by leading researchers in spatial social science, organized by discipline. The links are provided with the permission of the researchers themselves. In most cases these researchers are not directly affiliated with CSISS; in all cases the researchers are considered by CSISS to be leaders in the analysis of space within their discipline.

Know of a course in the social sciences related to the analysis of space? Let us know.

Anthropology
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Human Ecology from Space: Introduction to Remote Sensing in the Social Sciences

This course combines an historical review on the use of remote sensing in the social sciences (particularly anthropology), the study of its applications to social science inquiries, and applied work (e.g., settlement pattern, land use and resource management, population studies, archeological analysis, etc.), and a formal introduction to remote sensing principles, data, and processing techniques based on lectures and hands-on laboratory sessions.

Eduardo S. Brondizio, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Anthropology,
Indiana University


The Human Footprint: The Study of Land Use and Cover Change

The influence of socio-economic, demographic, and institutional "driving forces" upon land use change; the influence of the biophysical environment upon land use systems; and the interrelationship between culture change and land use are addressed through a combination of readings, discussions, lectures, and laboratory sessions. The course integrates three overlapping aspects of land use and cover analysis:

  1. Land use and the human ecology of production systems. Different production and land use systems (e.g., swidden agriculture, agroforestry, frontier land use, horticulture, industrial agriculture, and husbandry) are compared from a human ecological perspective, focusing on their socio-economic, spatial, and temporal characteristics.
  2. Levels of analysis on land use research. An historical analysis of land use reveals an integrative area of study that links anthropology, geography, ecology, and other fields. Examples of global, regional, and local analysis of land use illustrate scale-dependent variables and models, and data integration across scales for appropriate variables in the study of land use and land cover change. Multi-purpose land use/cover classification systems, the resolution of spatial and temporal data, and spatial and temporal sampling of land use systems are reviewed.
  3. Spatial and temporal dynamics of land use systems. The course integrates methods of multi-temporal and spatial analysis of land use and cover change (especially using remote sensing data), landscape configuration and structure, and measures and rates of site-specific spatial intensification (e.g., fallow/crop frequency) of land use. Measures of landscape structure and configuration (e.g., fragmentation, diversity, patchiness, complexity) and agricultural intensification (e.g., frequency, input factors, area size/productivity) are used to describe the landscape footprints of different land use systems.

Eduardo S. Brondízio, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Anthropology,
Indiana University



Spatial Demography

This graduate seminar will expose sociologists, anthropologists and demographers to the vast array of spatial data that are available, encourage them to think critically about how different forms of spatial data can be integrated in their research, and introduce them to the spatial analytical methods that are increasingly encountered in demographic inquiry.

Stephen A. Matthews, Ph.D,
Associate Professor of Sociology, Anthropology, and Demography
Director, GIA Core and Senior Research Associate
Population Research Institute
Penn State University


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Archaeology
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Geospatial Analysis in Archaeology

This newly offered class is designed for students interested in applying geospatial technologies, such as Geographical Information Systems (GIS), remote sensing, and Global Positioning Systems (GPS), to anthropological and archaeological research. This class provides a general introduction to geospatial technologies, from data acquisition to data integration to spatial analysis (e.g. accessibility and visibility analysis).

Heather Richards, Veronica Arias, Judith van der Elst, Department of Anthropology, University of New Mexico



GIS and Spatial Analysis for Archaeology

The growing use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) among anthropologists has transformed both the way we carry out research and conceive of space. Computer manipulation of spatial data enables anthropologists to explore new models for socio-cultural, economic, and political uses of landscape and environment. Spatial technology can also play an important role in anthropological research design, from data collection and management to analysis and presentation. In order to employ this technology properly, however, the nature and limitations of spatial datasets and the strengths and weaknesses of GIS software must be considered in relation to the questions we seek to answer.

Dr. William Honeychurch, Gettysburg College


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Criminology
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Applied Data Analysis in Criminal Justice

The object of this class is for students to work with secondary databases, geographic information systems, and other analytical software, and to conduct a spatial analytic study of crime patterns. In a follow-up class by Dr. Boba, in Special Criminological Problems, the objective is to understand how crime analysis and crime mapping are practiced in everyday law enforcement.

These course outlines may be supplemented with an excellent set of research and teaching resources available through the website of the Mapping and Analysis for Public Safety (MAPS) program at the National Institute of Justice: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/maps/

Dr. Rachel Boba, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Maryland, College Park


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Demography
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Spatial Data Analysis for Social Scientists

"Over the course of the semester, we will examine the characteristics of spatially referenced data (i.e., quantitative observations associated with fixed points or areas on a map) and will focus on methods of exploring and modeling such data. We will examine such issues as: the place of spatial data analysis as part of general multivariate data analysis (which requires remaining vigilant to the special difficulties that spatial data may create); the tools available for exploratory analyses of spatially referenced data; the variety of models for representing spatial variation; and learning to strike a balance between theoretical approaches to spatial data and permitting the data 'to speak for themselves'."

Professor Paul Voss, Department of Rural Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison



Spatial Demography

This graduate seminar will expose sociologists, anthropologists and demographers to the vast array of spatial data that are available, encourage them to think critically about how different forms of spatial data can be integrated in their research, and introduce them to the spatial analytical methods that are increasingly encountered in demographic inquiry.

Stephen A. Matthews, Ph.D,
Associate Professor of Sociology, Anthropology, and Demography
Director, GIA Core and Senior Research Associate
Population Research Institute
Penn State University


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Economics
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Housing and the Urban Economy

"This course considers the economics of urban housing and land markets from the viewpoints of investors, developers, public and private managers, and consumers. It considers the interactions between private action and public regulation - including land use policy, taxation, and government subsidy programs. We will also analyze the links between primary and secondary mortgage markets, securitization, and liquidity. Finally, the links between local housing and related markets - such as transportation and public finance - will be explored. The course presupposes a working knowledge of microeconomics and a facility with technical concepts."

John M. Quigley, Professor of Economics, University of California, Berkeley


Urban Economy

This reading list is designed for graduate students. The emphasis of this course is spatial organization of economic activity and urban issues. It covers:

  • models of location and pricing in a spatial context
  • the internal structure of cities
  • systems of cities and city size, urban development and economic growth, housing economics and land markets
  • transportation economics

J. Vernon Henderson, Eastman Professor of Political Economy, Professor of Economics and Urban Studies, Brown University


Resource Economics and Policy Applications of GIS

The course has two objectives: (1) introduce basic geographic information system (GIS) and spatial analysis skills and (2) emphasize the significance of spatial data, GIS, and spatial statistics to the study of natural resource and environmental policy issues.

The course is intended for undergraduate and graduate students who wish to develop GIS and spatial analysis skills in an applied, research-based learning environment. The course will emphasize social science applications of GIS, focusing largely on the interactions between humans and the natural environment. Students will learn basic data management and spatial analysis skills and be introduced to basic spatial statistics concepts. Students will become familiar with resource economics and policy applications of spatial data and will acquire experience working with spatially explicit datasets commonly employed by policy analysts and economists. Policy-makers are increasingly using spatial data and spatial statistical methods to study policy issues and to design and evaluate public policies. Moreover, government agencies and other organizations are increasingly using GIS to share information with stakeholders and the general public. This course is intended to provide students with knowledge and skills applicable to this modern policy-making environment.

Kathleen P. Bell, Assistant Professor, Department of Resource Economics and Policy, University of Maine, Orono



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Environment & Resources
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Geographic Information Systems

This course is intended for undergraduate and graduate students who have the desire to understand the basic concepts underlying geographic information science and technology. Emphasis is placed on the principles of GIS for characterizing environmental systems and computer-based techniques for processing and analyzing spatial data. Map understanding, database design and development, data transformations, spatial analysis, map accuracy assessment, and data visualization are considered. Issues discussed relate to needs assessment, collaborative spatial decision-making, and implementation of GIS within organizations.

The course objectives are to 1)increase student awareness of GIS science and technology; 2) provide opportunities to process, analyze, and visualize spatial data and information using commercially-available GIS software; 3) generate enthusiasm and interest in using GIS for meeting environmental assessment needs; and 4) gain an appreciation for the complexities of data manipulation, analysis, and mapping at different scales of space, time, and complexity.

Professors Arthur J. Lembo, Jr. and Stephen D. DeGloria, Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Cornell University


Spatial Modeling and Analysis

This course is intended for undergraduate and graduate students who have the desire to advance their understanding and research of geographic information science and technology. Emphasis is placed on the development, integration, and visualization of spatial data for characterizing environmental systems. Application and evaluation of spatial analytical methods to environmental systems and databases of interest to the student are emphasized.

The objectives of this course are: (1) explore advanced topics in modeling and visualizing spatial data and information; (2) enhance student skills in processing, analyzing, and visualizing spatial data using commercially-available GIS software; (3) provide opportunities to analyze and evaluate advanced spatial analytical techniques and global positioning systems using data relevant to the student's field of study; (4) provide the student with experience giving public presentations of research results.

Professors Arthur J. Lembo, Jr. and Stephen D. DeGloria, Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Cornell University


Resource Inventory Methods

The course will focus on environmental resource inventory methods using several spatial analysis tools. Inventory methods will include topographic map interpretation, aerial photo interpretation, photo-to-map transfer techniques, analog to digital conversion of inventory data, classification of digital imagery, field acquisition of map coordinate data, map accuracy assessment, and construction of cartographic products from digital databases.

The course is designed to be a very practical, hands-on experience with topographic maps, medium-scale color-infrared aerial photographs, coordinate digitizers, multi-spectral satellite images, navigation-grade global positioning system (GPS) instruments, and elementary spatial analysis and map production software.

The objectives of this course are to: 1) introduce fundamental tools used for mapping environmental resources; 2) provide experience in mapping land cover conditions using maps, aerial photographs, satellite images, and GPS technology; and 3) practice with spatial analysis methods and digital cartographic techniques.

Professors Arthur J. Lembo, Jr. and Stephen D. DeGloria, Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Cornell University


Global Positioning Systems

This course is an introduction to navigation-grade Global Positioning System (GPS) instruments used in agriculture and environmental science. Emphasis is placed on instrument familiarization, field data collection and processing, real-time and post-differential correction, and GPS-GIS integration. The course is designed to be a very practical, hands-on experience with GPS instruments used for field-based survey and mapping of plots, fields, boundary conditions, and other bio-physical features. The Course Objectives are 1) Familiarization of GPS instruments in a field setting; 2) Collection of position data and feature boundary definition; 3) Correction of position data using various methods; 4) Transfer of data from a GPS environment to a GIS environment; 5) Estimation of area and perimeter of delineated feature(s); and 6) Production of maps depicting spatial location and extent of delineated feature(s)

Professors Arthur J. Lembo, Jr. and Stephen D. DeGloria, Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Cornell University


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Geographical Information Science
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Spatial Analysis

"Spatial analysis is often broadly defined as a "set of methods useful when the data are spatial" (Goodchild and Longley 1999). More practically, it encompasses a collection of techniques to add value to data contained in a geographic information system. As such, spatial analysis forms an important component of the evolving discipline of "Geographic Information Science". This course reviews a range of spatial analytical techniques and their implementation in state of the art GIS software. Specific methods covered include "traditional" spatial analysis, such as spatial queries, spatial aggregation, buffering, overlay and interpolation, as well as an introduction to spatial data analysis such as the analysis of spatial autocorrelation and principles of geostatistics. An important aspect of the course is to gain hands-on experience in applying these techniques with GIS software. The main goal of the class is for you to become familiar with the essential methodological and practical issues that are involved in carrying out sophisticated spatial analyses using GIS."

Luc Anselin, Professor, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics,
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign



Introduction to Geographic Information Systems

This 3-credit hour course is an introduction to the principles, techniques, and applications of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). It combines lectures with a substantial practical component. The lectures cover the concepts of map projection, spatial data models, technical issues in GIS data acquisition, data storage and retrieval, georeferencing, spatial and attribute query, and basics of both raster and vector based GIS analyses. The practical component, including twelve lab assignments, will give students hands-on experience in using popular GIS software to handle geo-spatial information and to produce maps.

Dr. Wei Tu, Georgia Southern University


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History
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Spatial Analysis in Urban Studies/History

This course will provide students with an opportunity to consider the major spatial processes in 20th century Philadelphia history using historical maps, geographic information systems (GIS), and spatial analysis techniques. Specific topics will include industry, immigration, segregation, housing, public transportation, and urban renewal. Students will learn to develop and test research questions as well as the foundations of geographic information science. The instructor and students will collaborate to build an historical GIS around a particular theme. Class sessions will be organized as weekly seminars and will combine lecture, discussion, lab, and studio time.


History Seminar: Historical Geography


Professor Jeff Strickland, Department of History, Montclair State University



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Human Geography
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Introduction to Human Geography

People have a dramatic impact on their physical environment through the use of land, water and air for such human endeavors as agriculture, industry, and settlement. Similarly, the environment has a significant impact on human activities through resource endowments, climate and natural hazards. In Human Geography the impacts of these interactions on economic, political and cultural endeavors are investigated. Theories of land use, transportation, and location are employed to understand the implications of these human/environmental interactions, and models are developed to forecast their impacts. The intended and unintended results of human policies towards the environment are discussed.

Jeffrey P. Osleeb, Professor of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences PhD Program - The City University of New York


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Political Science
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Ecological Inference

This graduate research seminar is designed to introduce the student to methodologies recently proposed for the analysis of aggregate data to draw inferences about individuals. After reviewing the problem of the "ecological fallacy" popularized by Robinson in 1950 (although well known for decades previously), we will examine historical attempts by political scientists, historians, geographers, and anthropologists to respond to ecological inference problems. Then we will take Gary King's proposed solution to the problem of ecological inference and develop a fundamental understanding of the software associated with his solution. Finally, we will examine the latest critiques of this new approach and assess the state of knowledge about ecological inference.

Required Textbooks:

  • C. Achen and W. P. Shively (1995) Cross-Level Inference. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • G. King (1997) A Solution to the Ecological Inference Problem: Reconstructing Individual Behavior from Aggregate Data. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

John P. McIver, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Colorado


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Public Health
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Spatial Epidemiology

"This is a graduate level course in the conceptual and analytic tools used to understand how spatial distributions of exposure impact on processes and patterns of disease, introducing students to the special design, measurement, and analysis issues associated with spatial patterns of diseases. We will address contemporary diseases of public health importance and present the statistical and inferential skills that can be used in understanding how spatial patterns arise and what they imply for intervention. [The course objectives are to] provide students with the knowledge, theory, and methodological skills for analyzing and interpreting the spatial patterns of various diseases in order to elucidate underlying exposure processes giving rise to the observed patterns. [The target audience includes] Ph.D. and second-year Masters students in epidemiology, environmental health, ecology and various aspects of community health."
 
The instructors provide an interesting case study on Spatial Analysis in Public Health

Dr. Geoffrey M. Jacquez, President of BioMedware, Dr. Mark L. Wilson and Dr. Andrew E. Long, Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Michigan


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Sociology
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Spatial Analysis of Social Data

"The objectives of the course are to acquaint graduate students in Sociology with methods to analyze spatially-referenced data with the procedures appropriate for the field’s theoretical base. The course contact hours are organized into three major foci: (a) essential theoretical concepts and the constituent reference to Census Bureau demography (including the digital TIGER database); (b) the visualization of social data facilitated by Geographic Information Systems software; and (c) techniques to construct or analyze social point, line, and polygon data using exploratory and confirmatory approaches. Weekly homework will emphasize applications of these procedures to actual social theories and data using a pedagogical model of: application, interpretation, and presentation of empirical analyses by students. The semester-length paper is a key instrument by which students will demonstrate competence in spatial analysis methods covered in the course."

Dr. Frank M. Howell, Department of Sociology, Mississippi State University


Spatial Data Analysis for Social Scientists

"Over the course of the semester, we will examine the characteristics of spatially referenced data (i.e., quantitative observations associated with fixed points or areas on a map) and will focus on methods of exploring and modeling such data. We will examine such issues as: the place of spatial data analysis as part of general multivariate data analysis (which requires remaining vigilant to the special difficulties that spatial data may create); the tools available for exploratory analyses of spatially referenced data; the variety of models for representing spatial variation; and learning to strike a balance between theoretical approaches to spatial data and permitting the data 'to speak for themselves'."

Professor Paul Voss, Department of Rural Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison



Spatial Demography

This graduate seminar will expose sociologists, anthropologists and demographers to the vast array of spatial data that are available, encourage them to think critically about how different forms of spatial data can be integrated in their research, and introduce them to the spatial analytical methods that are increasingly encountered in demographic inquiry.

Stephen A. Matthews, Ph.D,
Associate Professor of Sociology, Anthropology, and Demography
Director, GIA Core and Senior Research Associate
Population Research Institute
Penn State University


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Spatially Integrated Social Science
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CSISS is interested in learning about courses in "spatial social science" - we are not aware of any. In this section, we are assembling resources that might assist this development. These include lecture and course outlines that focus broadly on substantive issues of social science (e.g., human-environment interactions, economic development, migration, population issues, urbanization, etc.) and on presentations that feature the integration of spatial perspectives and methods.

Spatial Analysis and Spatial Models

Lecture outlines prepared under the direction of Dr. Stuart Sweeney, an assistant professor of geography at UCSB and member of the CSISS executive committee. The materials emphasize the roles that spatial analysis and spatial models have in social science. The preparation of these materials was funded by a National Science Foundation Grant to UCSB's Alexandria Digital Earth Prototype (ADEPT).

Use of these materials in educational settings is conditional upon attribution to Dr. Sweeney, CSISS, and ADEPT as well as any other party whose material has been used and attributed herein. Commercial use is prohibited.

Each lecture may have associated images, slides, animations, spreadsheets, and supplementary material. Where present, this material is linked to the main document.

Stuart Sweeney, Asst. Professor of Geography, University of California, Santa Barbara


Spatial Analysis and GIS

Lecture outline for a seminar presentation given by Michael Goodchild at the 2001 ESRI Users Conference. The course introduced participants with some knowledge of GIS to the capabilities of spatial analysis. Each of the five sections cover a major application area and review the techniques available, as well as some of the more fundamental issues encountered in doing spatial analysis with a GIS.

Michael Goodchild, Professor of Geography, University of California, Santa Barbara



Spatial Demography

This graduate seminar will expose sociologists, anthropologists and demographers to the vast array of spatial data that are available, encourage them to think critically about how different forms of spatial data can be integrated in their research, and introduce them to the spatial analytical methods that are increasingly encountered in demographic inquiry.

Stephen A. Matthews, Ph.D,
Associate Professor of Sociology, Anthropology, and Demography
Director, GIA Core and Senior Research Associate
Population Research Institute
Penn State University


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Urban Studies & Urban Planning
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Computer Applications in Urban Planning and Management (Temporarily unavailable)

"This course is designed for graduate students interested in urban planning. The course goal is to learn basic computer application skills in three focus application areas. These focus application areas include software that is particularly useful to professionals interested in urban planning and management. The three applications are spreadsheets, relational database management systems (RDBMS), and desktop Geographic Information Systems (mapping)."

Professor Lyna L. Wiggins, Department of Urban Planning and Policy Development, Rutgers University


Advanced Topics in Computer Applications: GIS 2 (Temporarily unavailable)

"This course is designed as a second course in Geographic Information Science. The prerequisite for the course is at least one introductory level GIS course, or comparable experience. Students should be familiar with basic GIS concepts and terminology and feel comfortable using ArcView."

"There are two major goals for this course. The first goal is to introduce students to selected advanced concepts and research topics in Geographic Information Science. Since the full range of these topics can not be covered in a single course, the selection of topics will focus on those of particular interest to professionals working in and for state, regional and local governments."

"The second goal is to introduce students to more advanced hands-on skills with GIS software. The focus is on more sophisticated use of the GIS tools incorporated in ESRI’s ArcGIS 8.1, and three of its extensions - Spatial Analyst, 3D Analyst and Geostatistical Analyst. We also include a brief introduction to basic programming concepts using Visual Basic to customize some GIS functions."

Professor Lyna L. Wiggins and Clint Daniels, Department of Urban Planning and Policy Development, Rutgers University


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