Geospatial education at Harvard: A new course in mapping and spatial perspectives

Awardees: Peter Bol (FAS), Kirk Goldsberry (FAS)

Summary: Awardees developed a new course on spatial reasoning, cartography, and geographic analysis.

The emergence of spatial analysis and GIS has enabled landmark developments in urban planning, engineering, humanities, public health, and environmental science. Professor Peter Bol and IQSS/CGA Associate Kirk Goldsberry developed a new General Education course employing active learning strategies and case studies as a means to expose learners to the integration of spatial reasoning, computation, and visualization. Students of this course will be able to identify, formalize, and solve problems appropriate to spatial analysis; and communicate complex spatial solutions to a diverse set of audiences, learning outcomes that were hard to come by in Harvard courses previously.

The course—Empirical and Mathematical Reasoning 21: Maps and Mapping—launched in fall 2013. All students who responded to a course evaluation said they would strongly recommend this course to their peers. While reviews were mixed on the structure of the course, and the level of difficulty, it was clear from student comments that they found the content generally to be useful in both academic and personal settings.