Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Campus Cartography

Photo: Ashley Costa
Perhaps it goes without saying that geographers love maps. The fascination runs so deep that we took a departmental field trip to the Leventhal Map Museum at Boston Public Library earlier this semester, where we found this trove of cartography books! The BSU Geography Department is therefore delighted to have been able to reinstate a course in cartography under the leadership of Dr. Rob Hellström. A student learns to make maps will never see a map in quite the same way again.

BSU cartographers pose with their handiwork.
L-R: Ashley Costa,  Lara Joyce, Warren Sutcliffe, Matthew Daniel, Alaina Primeeau, James Varga, and Alexander Sullivan-Young. Not pictured: Stacy Ames, Taylor Arsenault, Meredith Briand, Nick Burns, Juan De Leon, John Doherty, Jen Hannum, Charles Oliver, Timothy Pease, Heather Rios, Lyndsay Stevens, and Sarah Watt
Photo: Juan DeLeon
Although cartography and map analysis have been integral in many of our courses all along, this spring marks the first time in about a decade that the department has offered a stand-alone course in cartography. Among the many excellent outcomes has been a group project presented this week at BSU's Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Geographer Lara Joyce discusses the campus map project with Dean Rita Miller.
Photo: Ashley Costa
The project builds on research conducted by previous cohorts of BSU (then BSC) geographers in senior seminars led by Dr. Clark and Dr. Hayes-Bohanan. Dr. Clark's students made and intensive study of campus maps at peer institutions, with particular attention to the placement and design of outdoor kiosk maps. Dr. Hayes-Bohanan's students studied the existing printed campus map, with a focus on presentation and standard cartographic design.

This year, students in Dr. Hellström's class drew upon those findings but went further, implementing a campus mapping program, literally from the ground up. Using the principals of design and procedures learned throughout the semester, students worked in small groups to build a map that integrates data from standard base maps, aerial photography, and directly-measured locations using Global Positioning System receivers. This was an ideal class project because it allowed students to work at very close range on one of the central lessons of the course: an excellent map brings together design principals and the needs -- whether articulated or not -- of the end users. Creating a map for their own campus community required careful consideration of the many uses and audiences for such a map.

The result is a map that is highly accurate and readable and that can be updated at little to no costs as the campus continues to develop.

This work was one of many presentations at the annual symposium, which included at least two others from the Department of Geography. Mentored by Dr. Boellstorff, Juan DeLeon mapped four thousand brownfield sites in Southeastern Massachusetts. Mentored by Dr. Hayes-Bohanan, Katrina Delaney presented her ongoing research on Fair Trade Universities. Students of Dr. Ingvoldstad in Communication Studies documented many of the poster presentations.
Communication student Rob Morton interviews geographer Warren Sutcliffe about the work.
Photo: Ashley Costa
Final note, as if it were not already obvious: Cartography can be fun!

L-R: Tim Pease, Juan DeLeon, and AJ Sullivan-Young
Photo: Ashley Costa

1 comment:

  1. Excellent job Cartography Class of 2012!

    May your future be map wise and full of navigational endeavors!


    Dr. Rob Hellström
    Cartography instructor