COURSE FULL – (Re)Mapping Health: Interdisciplinary Workshop on Innovative Methods for Representing Spatial Data

Ingeborg Rocker, Robert Gerard Pietrusko, Ronak Patel, Caroline Shannon
Jan 7-11 + 14-18 (MTWRF) / 9-5
report to 124. PIT when needed.
This workshop, supported by the President\’s January Innovation Fund, is designed to bring together students and faculty from across the University, including the Graduate School of Design, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health, and the Center for Geographic Analysis. Students will be asked to engage critically with the practice of mapping, interpreting, and visualizing spatial data to explore the potential of design in the social sciences and medical fields. The intention is to develop a methodology for using mapping, data visualization, and other methods of design representation as analytic and speculative tools to inform effective humanitarian responses in the future.
The course will be based around a case study of informal settlements in Nairobi, Kenya. By mapping these highly specific sites students will discover new patterns and problems that are related to the organization and usage of space. Informal settlements are notoriously under-represented in terms of data collection spatial legibility.
Their contested nature is an opportunity for students to speculate on what categories, what measurements and what maps will be beneficial to the communities and highlight socio-spatial issues. This course will test the application of data analysis and visualization tools in developing effective, efficient solutions to complex problems in resource-limited settings.
The ten day workshop will combine lectures, hands-on skill sessions, and two projects that ask the students to reconcile the complicated social, economic and environmental forces at work in the region. They will develop a strong design position that reads the site in spatial and material terms. Each day will consist of a morning guest lecture on a related topic, ranging from descriptions and analysis of the site from the stance of environmental vulnerability and public health, to topics in GIS and the visualization of spatial data, to step-by-step skills sessions that demonstrate the use of these tools in relation to the larger issues of the site. In the afternoon, the students will complete an exercise that synthesizes their new technical knowledge with a research agenda about informal settlements.