GTECH 385.02/GTECH 785.02/EES 799.03

FALL 2011

Wednesdays 16:10-19:00, Room HN 1090B
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GIS links and resources
Geography resources


Dr. Marianna Pavlovskaya

Office location:

HN 1003F

Office hours:

W 14-15 (Hunter), TH 16-17 (Graduate Center) and by appointment

Email: (See Email rules)

BlackBoard login page:

Course webpage:

Welcome to the GIS Applications in Social Geography Home page. See BB for up to date information about the course.

Course description

Student evaluation

Lab rules and getting help

Course objectives

Email rules

Academic calendar and weekly topics

Course content

BlackBoard (BB) logins

Books, tutorials, and software

Hunter College statement on Academic Integrity

GIS links and resources


This is a 3-credit course. GTECH 385.02 counts for undergraduate Geography and/or ES majors. GTECH 785.02 counts as an elective for our GIS certificate program.


The GIS Applications in Social Geography examines how GIS can be used for critical analysis of social power including economic, racial, gender, and cultural inequalities. It also explores how GIS can assist in imagining social alternatives and creating social spaces that aspire to social justice. After reviewing some basic GIS analytical techniques, we will work on team projects in close contact with a grass-roots organization, NGO, or research group concerned with issues of social justice. The precise content of the projects will be determined in the first two weeks of the semester. Hands-on GIS experience will be combined with readings, class discussions, and invited speakers.


Upon completion of this course students will (1) learn about the role of GIS as a tool for grassroots advocacy and social change; (2) understand the power-laden and socially constructed nature of geo-spatial technologies including GIS; (3) gain first-hand experience of being a GIS expert working with a community organization or an NGO in order to address their GIS research and representational needs. In addition, the students will acquire skills for (4) teamwork GIS project, (5) designing and implementing a GIS project; (6) disseminating the results of a GIS project.


Optional competency exercises will guide you step by step through the problem to a solution. Complementary to the lectures, these exercises will review the spatial analysis concepts and the software tools needed for Mastery exercises and the projects. Not included in the

Mastery exercises are designed to develop your ability to conduct the GIS analysis independently. They will build upon the concepts covered in class as well as the tools acquired through the competency exercises. Each mastery exercise consists of a data set and a problem to be solved. The steps to solving the problem will not be given but should be developed by each student. A cartographic model, a screenshot of the final output, and a brief report detailing the procedures used to solve the problem will be required for each mastery exercise.

Reports on assigned readings will be 1-2 page long and are not intended to summarize but demonstrate your engagement with the content.

Internet research assignments will include, for example, a critique of a map you found on the internet. Due dates will be posted in GIS SG course schedule (see BB).

Project is a team project that a group of students will complete in a close cooperation with a grassroots organization, a group of community researchers, or an NGO working on social justice issues. Together, we will formulate a research problem, define the tasks, data collection strategies, analytical techniques, and write a report. In the end of the semester, each team will present the results to the class and to its partner organization. See project details here.

Graduate students will also write an essay about the social impacts of GIS technologies and make a brief presentation to the class. The essay should discuss at least three articles on the topic that we agree upon (see links to Critical cartography and GIS bibliographies at GIS links and resources.


Since the class assumes basic familiarity with GIS software and analysis, the texts below are recommended. The required class readings will be available on e-reserve. They review certain analytical techniques and include articles/book chapters with case-studies for class discussions. Tutorial exercises are available digitally in the lab and on BB.

Recommended textbooks:
An Introduction to Geographical Information Systems by Heywood et al., 2007 (A hardcopy is in the library on reserve).

IDRISI Andes Guide to GIS and Image Processing, April 2006, by J. Ronald Eastman. Clark Labs, Clark University. Available digitally on lab computers and BB.

See links to Critical cartography and GIS bibliography at GIS links and resources.

Most tutorial exercises are available digitally on lab computers and course blackboard (BB). Information about what is assigned and when it is due is posted on GIS SG course schedule. See BB for details.

Two software packages will be used in class: Idrisi (developed by Clark Labs at Clark University, Worcester, MA) and ArcGIS (developed by ESRI). Both software packages are available on all lab computers at the department. As part of the course, we will explore recently made available public GIS software. Low cost student versions of Idrisi Taiga are available from Clark Labs. Visit  or call Clark Labs at (508) 793-7526 for details.


The final grade is based upon your grades for exercises (e.g., competency (optional for extra-credit) and mastery exercises, reports on the readings, and internet research assignments), class participation, and the project. Grades will be assigned on a fixed scale following Hunter College Guidelines. Competency exercises can be done individually or in groups for the same credit. In the latter case please hand in one copy signed by all group members. Mastery exercises must be done individually.

Undergraduate students


Exercises and assignments


Class participation






Graduate students


Exercises and assignments




Class participation







LATE ASSIGNMENTS will be marked down. Exercises will not be accepted after the answers were handed out.

NO LATE ARRIVALS PLEASE. Three late arrivals or two missed classes result in one point less from your class participation grade.

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Email is a major way to get in touch outside my office hours. The rules for contacting me via email are as follows: (1) please include GISSG in your subject line; (2) please sign your full name, I will not answer unsigned email messages or (3) I usually answer within one or two days except for the weekends.

Hunter College statement on Academic Integrity

Hunter College regards acts of academic dishonesty (e.g., plagiarism, cheating on examinations, obtaining unfair advantage, and falsification of records and official documents) as serious offenses against the values of intellectual honesty. The College is committed to enforcing CUNY Policy on Academic Integrity and will pursue cases of academic dishonesty according to the Hunter College Academic Integrity Procedures. Plagiarism, dishonesty, or cheating in any portion of the work required for this course will be punished to the full extent allowed according to Hunter College regulations.

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Please read carefully Lab Rules and regulations


General info about lab accounts and the labs On-line technical help


With questions about assignments and other course content please contact me. For problems with operating systems, logins, and all applications but GIS software contact Department's Windows systems administrator Nguyen Ngoc Nguyen ( For problems with swiping cards, GIS software, and printing contact our College Laboratory Technician (CLT) Amy Jeu (

BlackBoard (BB) logins

All communication regarding the course including the assignments, grades, and due dates as well as group emails will be via BlackBoard. In order to log in on BB you must have a CUNY portal account. All students enrolled in Hunter courses can establish this account by following the instructions on BB page ( If you cannot see this class in your BB account, contact BB help (see its webpage).

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W, Aug 31

W, Sep 28

W, Dec 7

Finals week

First class meeting

No class

Last class

Project presentations





Introduction and logistics


GIS tools and means


GIS tools and means


Critical GIS: Debates and issues


GIS tools and means. Finalization of project teams and community partners


Cartography, GIS, surveillance, and empire


Critical cartography and counter-mapping


Qualitative and quantitative GIS


Feminism and GIS


Internet cartography, GIS, and power


Project updates


Project updates


Project updates


Project presentations

Finals week

Project presentations

Please see BB for detailed Class Schedule. This schedule is subject to change.

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