Government 90dn: Mapping the Census

Fall 2007 Time: 1-3PM Thursdays Location: Lectures followed by discussions: 1-3PM Thursday at Rm. N108 CGIS Knafel 1737 Cambridge St, Cambridge Labs (when they are held – see schedule) will be at Rm. N018 Concourse Computer Training Lab accessed through the Library or through the Harvard MIT Data Center Lab Instructor: Sumeeta Srinivasan, Course URL: Office Hours: As arranged with students 1.0 Course Objectives: The major objectives are: 1. To use mapping as an analytical technique to study Census data 2. To investigate the use of geographic, economic and socio-demographic data from the US Census 3. To enhance the research process through the use of maps and spatial queries 4. To introduce basic Geographical Information Systems software 5. To introduce cartographic techniques 2.0 Course Description: This seminar will use mapping as a methodological technique to examine Census data for the US. Students will be expected to use mapping software to examine Census data for a location of their choice for their final paper. Weekly discussions will be conducted in class on various mapping related topics. Enthusiastic participation in these discussions will contribute to 20% of the grade. Topics include cartography techniques; web based mapping and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and their applications. GIS is a software with capabilities for manipulating, analyzing and displaying spatially referenced information. Every week, there will be a brief lecture followed by a discussion and/ or a laboratory exercise where students will work with mapping software. The course will require a final paper to be done independently by the student(s) (See section 4.0). There are no prerequisites. Students will be expected to have competence in microcomputer use and familiarity with Microsoft Windows environment and file management (directories, subdirectories, copying, etc). 3.0 Grading: The final course grade will be based on: Lab exercises (5 points each for short assignments 1-5)



Final project proposal (5%), presentation (10%) and report (40%) Participation

55% 20%

4.0 Final Paper The purpose of the final paper is to provide additional experience in collecting, processing and analyzing Census data through the use of maps. The research questions can be relevant to your interest or to another paper/ project for a different course or an exploration of ideas for your final thesis. The student may use Census data from another country. However, the responsibility for making sure that the data layers you need are available will the student’s alone. Students must start thinking about paper ideas early in the semester. You are expected to hand in a paper proposal by November 1st 2007. The 1 page proposal should include a description of the data available, your research questions, a proposed methodology and a discussion about the motivation for the research questions. Your paper should use ArcGIS to create maps of Census data and it should discuss the spatial implications of a problem. By Nov 1st, the student is expected to hand in a 1 page proposal (5% of course grade). The student will also have made at least one appointment to discuss the project with the instructor by Nov 1st to get full credit for participation. The final project will require a formal in-class presentation on December 5th or 12th (10% of the course grade and about 15 minutes long). The final paper (40% of the course grade) is due Jan 1st 2008. The paper must include be at least 5 and at most 10 single-spaced pages (excluding maps, tables, graphs and other visuals). The final paper must include references from academic journals and books and should be relevant to the topic explored by the paper. 5.0 Textbook Required: Unlocking the Census with GIS by Alan Peters and Heather MacDonald. ESRI Press (2005) ISBN-10: 1589481135 ISBN-13: 978-1589481138 (This book is available online from ESRI Press and other online booksellers). The book will be on Reserve at the Lamont Library. Optional: Making Maps: A Visual Guide to Map Design for GIS by John Krygier and Denis Wood. The Guilford Press, New York/ London. New Ed edition (2005) ISBN-10: 1593852002 ISBN-13: 978-1593852009 Mapping Census 2000: The Geography of U.S. Diversity by Cynthia A. Brewer and Trudy A. Suchan. ESRI Press Edition (November 1, 2001) ISBN-10: 1589480147 ISBN-13: 978-1589480148


These books are available online through online booksellers. Both are also on reserve at Lamont and Mapping Census 2000 is a digital resource accessible via Hollis. (See the link from the course web URL). Other supplementary readings may be provided every week. 6.0 Student Responsibilities for Meeting Course Objectives 1. Obtain and read the required textbook and supplemental material. Students will be evaluated on knowledge and skills obtained from lecture, discussion, the required textbook and supplemental reading materials. 2. Be prepared for class discussions and participation. Volunteer to both discuss information and answer questions. Outcomes of this practice will be used by the instructor as a means to subjectively evaluate students at the end of the semester. 3. Follow the student honor code and ethical behavior standards. This code of conduct can be accessed over the web at ml 4. Out-of-class assignment must be professionally prepared. This means the course project and exercises will have to be legible and free of spelling errors, and poor grammar. References must be cited properly. No late assignments or paper will be accepted under any circumstances. 5. If you need to communicate with the instructor, you may do so via e-mail, voice mail, or by making a personal appointment. It may take at least one workday for the instructor to return a telephone or e-mail message. Plan accordingly. If you need more then 5-10 minutes of the instructor’s time, it may be best to schedule an appointment


7.0 Course Outline and Readings
Lecture/ Discussion Content Week 1 Sep 17, 18, 20 Week 2 Sep 27 Week 3 Oct 4 Week 4 Oct 11 Week 5 Oct 18 Week 6 Oct 25 Week 7 Nov 1 Course overview: Introducing the Census Peters and McDonald: Chapter 1 Downloading the Census Part 1: Spatial Data Types Peters and McDonald: Chapter 2 Downloading the Census Part 2: Linking Spatial and Non Spatial Data Peters and McDonald: Chapter 2 Mapping tools: GIS Krygier and Wood: Chapter 2-4 Krygier’s blog at categories 01-05 Basic cartography Krygier and Wood: Chapter 6-8 Krygier’s blog at categories 06-11 Census for demographic and social conditions Peters and McDonald: Chapter 3 Discussion: What makes a good research question? Google-Scholar: “How to research, Blaxter” to get this chapter titled “Thinking about research” by L Blaxter, C Hughes, M Tight Sample paper: Census for economic conditions Peters and McDonald: Chapter 4 Census for housing and transportation issues Peters and McDonald: Chapter 5-6 Thanksgiving break: Labs 1-5 due on Nov 20th Laboratory Exercise Content No Lab Lab 1: Data on the web Lab 2: Census Factfinder Lab 3: Spatial Queries

Lab 4: Simple maps in ArcGIS

Lab 5: More mapping in ArcGIS Project proposal due Nov 1st (No lab)

Week 8 Nov 8 Week 9 Nov 15 Week 10

Paper preparation/ Lab hours Paper preparation/ Lab hours


Lecture/ Discussion Content Week 11 Nov 29 Week 12 Dec 6 Week 13 Dec 13, 20 Discussion: Paper progress reports Sample papers: In class presentation/discussion of paper followed by lab help Lab help

Laboratory Exercise Content Paper preparation

Project Report is due Jan 1st however early submission is encouraged. Note: All final due dates are final


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