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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.

Michelle M. Thompson

Affiliation: University of New Orleans, Department of Planning and Urban Studies
Workshop Attended: GIS and Spatial Modeling for Use in Undergraduate Education, Ohio State University, 2004
GIS and Spatial Modeling for the Undergraduate Social Science Curriculum, OSU, 2007

Accomplishment: Helped to develop an urban and regional information system that has assisted community recovery efforts in New Orleans and provided related resources for undergraduate and graduate education on applications of geospatial methodologies.

Notable Achievements in Her Own Words

The workshop helped me to understand the limitations of time and technology when setting up courses; increased my knowledge of other fields for examples of GIS applications; and provided information on how to expand student spatial understanding in stages instead of trying to develop an ‘all or nothing’ approach.
Michelle Thompson

The Beacon of Hope/University of New Orleans Department of Planning & Urban Studies Community Recovery Project (BUCRP) was born in October 2008 to organize, support and document the creation of a Geography Information System (GIS) that allows flexibility in data collection, maintenance, mapping and analysis across multiple platforms using a variety of public and private data sources. This project is providing a case study for use in the on-going geospatial education program at the University of New Orleans, Department of Planning & Urban Studies, for both undergraduate and graduate students. A project summary and its role in student education follows.

Project Summary:

The Beacon of Hope Resource Center has developed a property condition survey that has been collected by their block captains on the parcel level. Staff at the Beacon has standardized the survey so that City of New Orleans community members will receive the same training and collect neighborhood conditions data in the same format. By creating an integrated system of GIS, the BUCRP can provide the necessary tools for residents to directly influence public policy by creating unique data resources ‘from the ground up.’ This GIS service compliments the resident driven surveys that the BOH’s block captains conduct on a quarterly basis to record the recovery rate of a devastated neighborhood. By creating a visual tool for our residents to use, the Beacon of Hope Community Data Information Service provided by the BUCRP will empower residents to be better able to advocate with the local, city, and state agencies on how best to serve their neighborhood. This community-led project will also give needed information to business owners, municipal leaders and investors in order to begin formulating a plan for continued economic growth and expansion.

Project website:

Student Education and Participation in the BUCRP:

The mission of the Department of Planning and Urban Studies (PLUS) is “building livable communities, through education, research and engagement.” The Bachelor of Science in Urban Studies and Planning degree (BSUSP) offered by PLUS helps fulfill this mission by preparing students for the challenge of bringing about social change at the local, regional, national and international levels.

This challenge is even more apparent in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita as local governments, the State of Louisiana and the Federal government partner to develop recovery plans for the communities impacted by these storms. Established in 1974, the department’s Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) program is currently the only accredited professional planning program within the three states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas. Committed to the equitable and sustainable rebuilding of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the MURP faculty has been actively engaged in post-Katrina recovery efforts. The University of New Orleans’ College of Urban and Public Affairs will be participating in planning, technical support and other activities to aid in the rebuilding of South Louisiana. PLUS has over 30 years of research and planning experience in the areas of Southeast Louisiana hardest hit by the hurricanes. This expertise includes the provision of a variety of planning, public administration, and technical support activities to local, state, and federal agencies. PLUS also has significant GIS, remote sensing, database, and data analysis capabilities that can assist all levels of government in long-term community recovery planning. PLUS undergraduate students will be able to take courses relating to recovery planning activities and gain real world experience through, independent study options. Additionally, internships, assistantships and part-time employment opportunities are also possible. The recovery of the entire Gulf Coast region will be a multi-year process. The BSUSP degree offers students the chance to acquire a top quality education and real world experiences while participating in recovery planning efforts.

Both undergraduate and graduate students in the University of New Orleans Department of Planning & Urban Studies are able to participate in the creation of the BUCRP GIS by collecting primary survey data, assisting in the update and maintenance of the property images, and assisting in the creation of a web-based portal where future survey data and images can be uploaded by community members and student volunteers using NeoGeography. Students from other Universities have already participated in the project and have learned how to use global positioning system technology, trained on how to conduct neighborhood condition surveys and work with community members to understand the direct and indirect impacts of the survey data. Undergraduate students from Dillard University (New Orleans, LA) and Cornell University (Ithaca, NY) continue to participate in the BUCRP.

Going forward, undergraduate and graduate students in both the (Summer and Fall 2009) MURP 4081 Information Technology for the Planning Profession, as well as, graduate students in the Capstone course (Spring 2010) will be able to use the data obtained through the BUCRP to complete advanced geospatial analysis using city, state, and federal secondary data sources for integrated analysis. This new repository of data for student research includes city-wide neighborhood property condition survey data, expropriated properties from the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, ‘Road Home’ property data from the Louisiana Land Trust, environmental data from the Louisiana Hurricane Center, and other publicly available data resources.

To futher the dissemination of how planning education can be enhanced through public participation GIS, the BUCRP model will be featured in a presentation to the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) 2009 Conference. The abstract for this presentation follows:

“Using PPGIS to Monitor Neighborhood Recovery: Mapping the future of New Orleans”

Michelle M. Thompson, University of New Orleans

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and Rita, New Orleans was met with many challenges that continue today. While there is an increased desire by the Obama administration to re-focus attention and financial support for those affected, the dire circumstances that the rest of this country faces may force longer delays in the on-going recovery effort. During the Spring of 2007 the ‘New Orleans Neighborhood Analysis Project’ (NONAP) was developed as a potential resource for data collection, education and use of ‘NeoGeography’ to assist NOLA community-based organizations (CBO) with pro bono geographic information systems (GIS) services. With the assistance of University of New Orleans and Dillard University students in an ‘alternative spring break’, surveys of Road Home property conditions and images were conducted. This pilot project elevated the interest of local CBOs where a workshop on how the use of GIS could inform and integrate disparate data from multiple neighborhoods. The lessons learned from this project were the basis for the “Beacon of Hope University of New Orleans Planning & Urban Studies Community Recovery Project” (BUCRP) that assists with GIS mapping and analysis of community-led property condition surveys and images. Survey data from 2008 has increased the visibility of recovery and also inspired businesses to return to neighborhoods. This use of public participation GIS, in an on-going and active recovery project, is a model of successful community-university collaboration that will extend beyond the 12 other neighborhood Beacon of Hope Recovery Centers throughout New Orleans.

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