Mission and Objectives
SPACE will advance the use of powerful new tools for spatial thinking within undergraduate education for the social sciences. The primary goal of SPACE is to strengthen academic programs and student capabilities to integrate information scientifically and spatially across a broad range of disciplinary and policy domains, including extensions to the environmental sciences. The tools for building a strong emphasis on spatial thinking in social science curricula include geographic information systems (GIS), spatial pattern recognition, spatially sensitive statistical analysis, cartographic visualization, and place-based search methodologies. These tools have documented relevance for programs of research and teaching at the disciplinary level in Anthropology, Economics, Geography, Political Science, Social Science History, Sociology, Statistics, and at the interdisciplinary level in such areas as urban studies, demography, criminology, public health, environmental assessment, and public policy analysis. It is argued that undergraduate courses and programs at all levels will benefit from increased systematic exposure to spatial thinking and analysis, enhancing student scientific capabilities for entering exciting graduate programs and expanding job markets.
The proposed program includes national level workshops taught by outstanding instructors and scholars from leading universities and the establishment of substantial web-based teaching and learning resources. The program elements of SPACE will be designed to prepare teachers for the integration of spatial technologies into the curricula, to achieve faculty development objectives that focus on constructive instructional relationships that bring intellectual challenges to students and that prepare them for rewarding careers and constructive contributions to society. These objectives will be enhanced by encouraging diversity among instructors and participants, and by making significant effort for representation across gender, ethnicity, race, and nationality.