Cultivating Spatial Intelligence

Courses in Spatial Data in Design

This page describes the opportunities for learning about spatial represenation and analysis embedded in the GSD studio environment and curriculum. This range of opportuities can be arranged in ascending scale of formality, from: simple exposure to an exemplary information infrastructure, to specific tutorials integrated into courses and studios, or full term, for-credit courses.

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An Exemplary Infrastructure for Understanding Places

The Graduate School of Design provides many opportunites to use and create spatial information for understanding and designing places and their context. These opportunities range from simply being exposed to a state-of the art infrastructure for using spatial data that is exemplary of most advanced public agencies and firms. Our environment features easy-to use resources for beginning a basic GIS database for anyplace in the world; a schoolwide license for four decades of the complete decennial census of the US; very detailed planimetric data for scores of international cities; and detailed three dimensional models of the Boston and NYC that evolve based on continuing collaboration of students and local firms. The keystone of this infrastructure is the GIS Manual which can be browsed by clicking on the links to the left of this page. GSD Students, who are without exception under pressure to gather and create information about places and context, make good use of this infrastructure and are continually contributing to its richness through their questions and contributions. We know that exposure to this infrastructure makes our students more productive and effective, and we hope that it raises their awareness and expectations for how knowledge-based organizations should manage and leverage information assets.

Design-Centric Introductory GIS Workshops

Several times a year we hold informal no-credit workshops focused on the issues surrouding compiling site information for design projects. This year's version. We also offer a pre-semester GIS campMaster of Landscape Architecture students.

Incidental Incorporation of GIS Tutorials in Non-GIS Courses

Many tasks that once incorporated basic map reading skills now require some literacy in the use and interpretation of spatial data. It is therefore expected that there will be some need to prepare geographic datasets and demonstrate their application in a variety of courses and studios. We are happy to prepare such a dataset and tutrial demonstration for any studio or course if data exists and if we are given enough advance notice (a few weeks.) The following are courses and studios that make use of some of these specialized datasets and demonstrations:

Integration of Introduction to GIS Curriculum in Core Studios

Basic GIS literacy is a must for professionals in Urban Planning and Landscape Architecture. Even Architecture students are often interested in understanding the cultural and physical conteext of their sites. The GSD GIS specialist is happy to assist core studio coordinators in developing GIS datasets for their studios (provided that the project is initiated with enough time before the studio begins! In 2009/2010 we have worked with the 1st Year Core Urban Design, and MUP studio and the 3rd and 4th Semestr Landscape Architecture Studios.

Courses Focused on Spatial Data and Modeling

The learning opportunities presented above are geared toward assuring that our graduates have a basic literacy in the use of spatial data in day to day work. Students who see themselves becoming leaders in information-based organizations should have a structured course that provides an uunderstanding of how spatial data are gathered and documented for sharing and scholarship, how the logic of information systems is used to create new information, and how these new information should be evaluated.