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Instructional Development Award Recipients

Several undergraduate instructors who attended the 2004, 2005, 2006, or 2007 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.

Diana Grigsby-Toussaint

Affiliation: Department of Kinesiology and Community Health University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Workshop Attended: Spatial Analysis in the Social Science Curriculum: Enhancing Undergraduate Learning, UCSB, 2006
GIS and Spatial Modeling for the Undergraduate Social Science Curriculum, OSU, 2007

Accomplishment: Developed a two-day Health GIS workshop to introduce undergraduate students in the College of Applied Health Sciences to the applications of GIS in health.

Notable Achievements in Her Own Words

As a graduate student interested in exploring neighborhood influences on diabetes, there were few courses in GIS and health that worked well with my course schedule. I was therefore very excited to learn about the GIS and Population Health program at UCSB in 2006, as this allowed me to improve my spatial analysis skills. The participation in this workshop made it possible for me to graduate in four years, and allowed me to gain an appreciation for incorporating spatial analysis in my research.
Diana Grigsby-Toussaint

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).

Context for Workshop

In both the Fall and the Spring of each academic year I am teaching a course in Epidemiology that all undergraduate students in the current Community Health programs and a proposed interdisciplinary Health program are required to take.

As part of this course (see course schedule below), students are required to learn about GIS applications in health in the context of understanding public health planning, and tracking outbreaks of disease. Unfortunately, this consists of one lecture, as there are limited resources for the students to undertake lab exercises using GIS software. Students are also required to participate in a poster competition (in the Spring semester) that involves projects exploring various epidemiology and public health problems. These projects and the poster competition could be greatly enhanced with the use of GIS software, as students might be able to better visualize areas at higher risk for particular health outcomes.

The Community Health concentration also requires all undergraduate students to work with organizations focused on improving health outcomes at the local, national, and international levels. Students may work with or consult faculty on some of these projects. In the last year, I have received several requests from students regarding GIS assistance for their projects. These have included geocoding the addresses of clients utilizing a free clinic to determine whether the location was convenient; as well as mapping the location of hazardous waste sites in one community to examine the potential association with increased cancer risk. As the only faculty member in my department regularly using GIS in my research, students have increasingly sought my assistance. Thus, I believe that a course at the undergraduate level would greatly benefit our students, and provide an opportunity to “officially” reach out to students interested in integrating some aspect of GIS in their undergraduate theses or research projects. As there are no comparable courses currently offered in our College at the undergraduate level, I believe the first step would be to have a workshop introducing students to GIS. This will provide an opportunity to better tailor a Health GIS course to student needs.

Questions Addressed in the Course

The goal of the proposed Health GIS workshop is to introduce undergraduate students in the College of Applied Health Sciences to the applications of GIS in health. We hope that at the end of the workshop students will have a better understanding of GIS and health, as well as the ability to use ArcGIS for geocoding and creating simple chloropleth maps.

The tentative agenda will include:

Day 1

  • Overview of GIS, Epidemiology, and Health
  • Career Opportunities in GIS and Health – Panel (To include at least one faculty member, representative from the local or State Health Department, and one graduate student)
  • Understanding GIS concepts
  • An Introduction to ArcGIS and Arc Editor (e.g. displaying, organizing and querying spatial data, visualizing data, creating basic maps)
  • An Introduction to ArcToolbox

Day 2

  • Sources for data (e.g. US census, other sources of health data)
  • Using attribute and location queries
  • Beginning spatial analysis
  • Creating and editing data

At the end of the workshop, students will be provided with workbooks and exercises to continue practicing the skills learned from the workshop. Students will also be asked to provide feedback on the aspects of the workshop that they found to be the most relevant to their research and internship projects, as well as additional topics that would be of importance for a semester long course.

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