University of Redlands Inaugural LENS Symposium
Four Redlands professors present their research enhanced by spatial literacy
REDLANDS, Nov. 20, 2012 – On October 31, 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 University of Redlands initiative promoting spatial literacy as a foundational component within a liberal arts institution.
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 members are 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 Glover, professor, department of history, presented “Historical Lebu Migration in West Africa.”
- Dr. Lillian Larsen, associate professor, religious studies, presented “Recreating the Historical Travels of Paul.”
- Dr. Dan Klooster, professor, environmental studies, presented “Visualizing the Trans-border Communities of Mexican Migrants.”