Last Friday, GSC students representing the Institute for Environmental Spatial Analysis, Environmental Studies Track presented a panel presentation at the Georgia Sociological Association Conference. They demonstrated the uses of GIS (Geographic Information Systems) for conceiving, conceptualizing, illustrating and teaching about social knowledge. GIS can visually show information and relationships that were once invisible or hard to imagine. This software application can create highly visible maps and illustrations from arcane and hard to interpret tabular data. Using GIS in data compilation allows for more rapid assimilation and understanding of statistics and information and encourages expanded reflection and analysis. This application can be instrumental in modeling existing data to perform analysis and envisioning more imaginative solutions to social problems.
Crystal Guest began the presentation with ‘What Can You See? Exploring the Application of Geographical Information Systems as a Tool in Social Sciences,’ an explanation of how GIS begins with a base map layer followed by attribute data that can be “turned off or on” to view data alone or in a relationship with other data. This explanation was followed by examples of social data maps created by GSC students in the IESA program.
Brittany Bailey and Michelle Cash presented Visualizing the Social Impact of Texas
Food Deserts which consisted of a series of maps displaying various social data including socioeconomic factors, healthy food availability, poor health rankings, and population.
Alejandro Schwedhelm presented Visualizing Social Trends in the Population of Georgia's Counties That Affect Health Quality. This was a series of maps depicting mortality, morbidity, graduation rates, and obesity in relation to available health care.
The presentation demonstrated how GIS might be used as a tool for analysis in business decision making, cultural phenomena, economics, and scientific applications with a spatial component.
The student presentation was well received.