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Instructional Development Award Recipients

Several undergraduate instructors who attended the 2004 SPACE workshops were awarded funds to continue their efforts in integrating spatial analysis into their course curriculums. These pages showcase their achievements. See the full recipient list.

Sumeeta Srinivasan

Affiliation: Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University
Workshop Attended: GIS and Spatial Modeling for Use in Undergraduate Education
Accomplishment: Introduced a course on "Spatial Analysis of Environmental and Social Systems," attracting students from Applied Mathematics, Economics, Environmental Sciences, the Kennedy School of Government, Earth and Planetary Sciences, and Environmental Engineering.

Notable Achievements in Her Own Words

My attendance at the SPACE workshop introduced me to a variety of resources available to teach spatial analysis.
Sumeeta Srinivasan

As a participant in the SPACE workshop at Ohio State University, I was hoping to be able to use what I had learned to design a course on spatial analysis for undergraduates at Harvard University. I am happy to report that the course was approved and is being offered this semester (spring 2005). The course has attracted many graduate students from Economics, the Kennedy School of Government, Earth and Planetary Sciences, and Environmental Engineering - at Harvard this is considered a very interdisciplinary group. However, I have only attracted two undergraduates (Applied Mathematics and Economics and Environmental Sciences). Since it is offered as an Engineering Sciences course, it has more stringent mathematics prerequisites that might have prevented all undergraduates from considering it.

My attendance at the SPACE workshop introduced me to a variety of resources available to teach spatial analysis. New methodology and data sets introduced during the lectures have helped me provide examples in the course that I am teaching. My field is not crime or public health, so it is convenient to have a ready-made dataset to refer the students to who are interested in these issues. Also, I was introduced to new software like GeoDa, which I will be using for part of the Spatial Analysis course.

It was also useful to be able to talk to some of the professors who were teaching courses on GIS and spatial analysis at OSU. These discussions helped me to find out what worked for them with respect to textbooks, lab exercises, assignments and lectures. I also was able to look at a variety of syllabi. By being a student once again, I was also able to gauge the types of readings that were relevant and/or useful in explaining the material.

My aim has been to explore spatial analysis and modeling as a set of methods that test the limits of current GIS software. In many ways this is harder than designing a course to introduce GIS as a set of tools (which I did for the summer course in BU.) I find that teaching GIS as a science is far more challenging, especially since the students may not have any prior exposure to GIS as a tool.

The course currently offered in the GSD will introduce GIS. The course I teach will apply the tools and introduce the "science" in the environmental and social context. The course I designed will also introduce some of the inner workings of the tools (for example we discuss spatial data structures). In the long run, I hope this course is part of a sequence. Ultimately the student of spatial analysis at Harvard will use the tools and the science with the statistical knowledge gained through the new Spatial Statistics course that is offered by Prof. Rima Izem in the Statistics department here at Harvard.

Course Materials

Future Participation

I hope to be involved in an initiative with faculty members from History, the Graduate School of Design (GSD), Physics, and Statistics that will introduce a new course available to all undergraduates to satisfy their "methods" requirements. My current course is expected to provide part of the material for the new course. I will also teach an introductory GIS course through the Metropolitan College at Boston University (BU) over the summer and have already used workshop materials to prepare a GIS course for a very different audience - undergraduate and graduate students who work full-time.

I will also be writing a paper (coauthored with other faculty members mentioned earlier if possible) that documents what works in teaching an introductory course on spatial analysis to undergraduates in a large course scenario (over 50 students). Lastly, I would like to organize a workshop at Harvard over the following year (2005-2006) on spatial analysis where leading researchers could speak and present.

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