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W.M. Keck Foundation Grant Allows for New Opportunities

University of Redlands students and faculty will have new opportunities to use maps, mapping and spatial reasoning in the classroom and beyond, thanks to a $250,000 grant from the Los Angeles-based W.M. Keck Foundation.

The grant, which will be awarded over three years, provides new opportunities and direction to the university’s ongoing work to promote spatial learning across academic disciplines.

Geospatial literacy is a cognitive skill that can be used in everyday life, the workplace and science to organize and solve problems and to outline solutions in ways that involve expressions of space, such as mapping.

Students could, for example, use GIS technology, remote sensing or web-based geospatial applications to advance their understanding or to help solve a problem.

Students might use the technology to determine where a new recycling drop-off location is needed or where a community service club should offer tutoring in the community. Predictions also could be made about climate changes or future water quality.

The award will be used to fund faculty development, including fellowships and workshops. Opportunities for students also will be available, including mapping and spatial reasoning oriented internships and research partnerships between students and faculty.

A student exchange with the digital cultural mapping program at UCLA, as well as a lecture series featuring national spatial learning experts, also are planned.

New computer-based visualization tools designed to enrich student learning experiences and support faculty research also will be created through the efforts of the Redlands Institute, the interdisciplinary, collaborative research enterprise within the University of Redlands.

The grant will help the university move forward with ongoing efforts to promote spatial literacy, making it a key part of the liberal arts education framework. The university has used spatial inquiry and geospatial technologies in curriculum, research and decision-making efforts since about 1998.

The granting organization, the Keck Foundation, was established in 1954 by the late W.M. Keck, founder of Superior Oil Company.

The foundation’s grants are focused on pioneering efforts in the areas of medical research, science and engineering. The foundation also maintains a program to support undergraduate science and humanities education and another program that provides support in health care, civic and community services, education and the arts, with an emphasis on children.


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