Innovation & Research

LENS: Mapping People Symposium

University of Redlands Inaugural LENS Symposium

Four Redlands professors present their research enhanced by spatial literacy

Redlands, Calif. (Nov. 20, 2012)—On October 31, 2012, the University of Redlands hosted the first annual “LENS: Mapping People Symposium,” generously supported through a grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation. Approximately 75 Geographic Information System (GIS) practitioners and graduate students from the Inland Empire attended the symposium to explore the complexities of mapping people. LEarNing Spatially (LENS) is a campus-wide initiative promoting spatial literacy as a foundational component within a liberal arts university.

Dr. Diana Sinton, director of Spatial Curriculum & Research at the University of Redlands, organized the event.“I was inspired to create this event because I wanted to make the region more aware of the interesting and innovative projects that our faculty is doing,” said Sinton.

The keynote speaker was Dr. Ian Gregory, professor of history and leader of a digital Humanities initiative at Lancaster University, United Kingdom. His presentation, “GIS & Texts: New Approaches to Understanding the Geographies of the Past” showed how geo-tagging text on websites was combined with GIS technology to put points on a map based on place names and other geographic references. Once mapped, readers could interact with the map and the text to understand words in the context of location.

In 2010, the University of Redlands received a three-year grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation to support spatial literacy and learning, which includes LENS fellowships that encourage professors to use maps, mapping and spatial perspectives in teaching, learning and research. “Many of the faculty fellows have had topics dealing with social and cultural data, so it made sense to focus on this,” said Sinton. “It is a very important topic, a bit of the next frontier for GIScience.”

Four University of Redlands LENS Fellows presented their research and showed how spatial thinking led to a more in-depth understanding of the relationships between people, culture, language and geography.

  • Dr. Jim Sandos, Farquhar Professor of the Southwest, department of history, presented “Mapping Cultural & Social Change in a California Mission: San José, 1797-1850.”
  • Dr. John Glove, professor, department of history, presented “Historical Lebu Migration in West Africa.”
  • Dr. Lillian Larson, associate professor, religious studies, presented “Re-creating the Historical Travels of Paul.”
  • Dr. Daniel Klooster, professor, environmental studies, presented “Visualizing the Trans-border Communities of Mexican Migrants.”

The symposium was also an opportunity for students, professors and GIS professionals from Esri—the Redlands-based world leader in GIS technology—to network and build connections. Graduate students in GIS also presented their research projects and maps.

About the University of Redlands
The University of Redlands is a spatially infused institution that uses spatial reasoning to enhance curriculum, research and operations. Geo-spatial concepts are incorporated in a range of subjects, with environmental science and business students both learning to apply geographic information systems tools in their respective disciplines. In-depth study of GIS concepts is available through the Master of Science in GIS program. The university’s new Spatial Literacy Certificate Program will train educators of all types to enhance their teaching skills with spatial thinking. The Redlands Institute allows teams of students, faculty, staff and administrators to apply GI Science expertise and technology to a wide array of projects and educational experiences. The University of Redlands, an independent, non-profit, liberal arts and sciences university founded in 1907, is consistently ranked among the best universities in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.


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