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Instructional Development Award Recipients

Several undergraduate instructors who attended the 2004, 2005, or 2006 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.

Adriana Abdenur

Affiliation: International Affairs, The New School
Workshop Attended: Spatial Analysis in the Social Science Curriculum: Enhancing Undergraduate Learning, UCSB
Accomplishment: Modified the syllabus for course Urbanization and Inequality in South Africa; launched a discussion of spatial approaches in the study of international development at the New School; and entered a partnership with the Parsons Institute for Information Mapping (PIIM) to create pedagogical materials focusing on the theme of "Urbanization and Inequality in Cities of the Developing World."

Notable Achievements in Her Own Words

The SPACE workshop at UCSB helped to me to think more systematically about the spatial dimensions of development-related phenomena. More concretely, the structured activities and informal discussions of the workshop (including some exchanges since then with fellow alumni) helped me to devise specific pedagogical strategies, which have shaped my syllabus for my spring course on urbanization and inequality. Finally, the workshop inspired me to forge connections with other faculty members working on spatial topics.
Adriana Abdenur

At the beginning of the fall semester, I browsed through our course catalog and faculty bios and realized that there are tremendous resources already in place at the New School for approaching development problems from a spatial perspective; what has been missing was a direct discussion of space in development, as well as explicit pedagogical tools to foment thinking along these lines. I began addressing the lack of discussion of space by writing a short article to trigger discussion among faculty and students in international development.

This brief article (the seed for a longer, academic paper) was inspired by some of our pedagogical discussions at UCSB. I identify key resources already in place at the New School that can be tapped into for building up spatial approaches in the university curricula. I also call for an explicit discussion of spatial techniques and approaches in the study of international development. The article has had some impact already -- students in our Cities & Urbanization concentration met earlier this month to discuss key themes in the bulletin article and to generate concrete initiatives. For example, they are now lobbying for a course on spatial technologies and for a speaker series that would bring in lecturers from academe and policy organizations such as the Population Council and the Urban Institute, both of which have researchers using spatial technologies in analyses of urban growth).


Article by Adriana on "Spatial Approaches in International Development: Possibilities at the New School", in the New School International Affairs Bulletin Abdenur New School International Affairs Bulletin.

Future Participation

As for the lack of pedagogical tools, my collaboration with PIIM aims to help fill that gap by producing didactic materials, and doing so with the participation of students. This particular project is influenced by two specific discussions from the UCSB workshop that stuck in my mind: first, our discussions of how you don’t necessarily need high-tech tools to formulate a spatial perspective, and second, how evaluation instruments can help teachers to assess the extent to which students are, in fact, thinking about space.

In early fall 2006, I met with the Parsons Institute for Information Mapping (PIIM), a research institute at The New School, to brainstorm possibilities for inter-division collaboration tapping into the design and mapping capacities at PIIM and the social science orientation of the university’s School for General Studies. We are planning to collaborate on the production of didactic materials related to two topics in urbanization: the expansion of slums in Rio de Janeiro, and the emergence of racially mixed suburbs in South African cities like Johannesburg. The goal is to involve students in analyzing and mapping spatial data to produce posters that can then be incorporated into specific courses, starting with my spring course “Urbanization and Inequality in Brazil and South Africa.” In addition, over the summer, I will supervise 10-12 students carrying out field research on issues of urbanization in Johannesburg; we will devote some of our time in the field to mapping experiments that will build on the collaboration with PIIM.

The project will bring together students from two divisions of the New School (Parsons and the School for General Studies) in a series of workshops where they will use spatial data to map and analyze trends in housing segregation in two cities: Johannesburg, South Africa and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The finished product will consist of two printed posters that can then be used in New School courses on urbanization and segregation. In addition, we plan to publish a small booklet describing and analyzing the project.

Through these linked projects, we will foster interdisciplinary spatial thinking in both divisions, encouraging urban design & planning students to consider the social context of their projects, and likewise pushing social science students to incorporate into their “analytical toolkits” the language, tools, and logics of spatial thinking.

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