Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Toward critical spatial thinking in the social sciences and humanities by Michael F. Goodchild • Donald G. Janelle

The past couple of decades have opened floodgates of possibility in spatial representation via revolutionary computational power of GIS.  The hydropower of GIS has flowed far past scientific fields, the obvious candidate for GIS, seeping into the humanities.  The coupling of a recently discovered universalism of georeferencing (ease of spatially representing any field) and technology the modern computer has bestowed upon the world, GIS continues to gain momentum.  Economics, anthropology, archaeology, history, and religious studies utilize the GIS in tracking cultural heritage and societies, validated in the GIS in the Humanities and Social Sciences International Conference.

The integration of GIS into humanistic courses hints a shift from "disciplinary to integrative knowledge systems."  GIS technologies have issued the importance of place in humanities and are now instrumental in some policy making, what the White House calls place-based policies.  GIS also plays a role in research, social process, and environmental understanding.

In recent years, the term spatial has been used as an "umbrella term to include spatio-temporal."  Time and space warp their way into fields such as archaeology which analyzes ancient civilizations and archaeological development through time.  The concept of space is universal in its relation to an array of concepts and fields, and a necessary component in education.

GIS finds agency in humanities, which only marginally crosses with in-depth GIS analysis, because learning the theory is not a necessity in creating spatial representations, unlike in math and statistics.  A more embedded approach of spatial reasoning in education is necessary so that critical reasoning can meet spatial concepts; this is where GIS and the humanities collide.

1 comment:

  1. I love the idea of using spatial thinking in areas other than natural sciences, it would be really interesting to see it implemented in creating different kinds of art.