Tag Archives: geodesign

Call for Papers: Special Issue on Geodesign

A special issue of Landscape and Urban Planning (LAND) will focus on Geodesign: Changing the World, Changing Design. Guest editors are Frederick R. Steiner and Allan W. Shearer, School of Architecture, The University of Texas at Austin. For those who have not seen the Call by email, we are pasting the text here, originally provided by Frederick Steiner:

The purpose of the special issue of Landscape and Urban Planning (LAND) is to provide a basis for common understanding of what Geodesign is by asking what Geodesign does. We seek papers that examine how questions of environmental change have been posed in Geodesign and that demonstrate how the answers allow for, or demand, new models of design practice and education.

We welcome such investigations in the forms of review articles, research articles, case studies, and discussions about research needs and pedagogy. We anticipate submissions that draw upon the disciplines of geography, computer science, and the environmental sciences, as well as landscape architecture, community and regional planning, and architecture.

Abstract and manuscript submission

An abstract of 800 words or less, specifying title, author(s), affiliation and e-mail address, should be sent to Dr. Allan W. Shearer (ashearer@austin.utexas.edu) by 15 February 2014. Abstracts will be shortlisted by the editorial panel against the criteria of originality, methodological quality, and relevance. Authors of abstracts demonstrating clear scholarly merits will be invited to submit a full manuscript.

Invited manuscripts should be between 4,000–8,000 words and submitted through the LAND website by 15 June 2014. All papers submitted for this Special Issue will undergo the usual LAND peer review process. Details on article type and format are available from the LAND journal website at: http://www.journals.elsevier.com/landscape-and-urban-planning.

 

Geodesign Student Group makes a Splash in the Cloud

Founding members of the Geodesign Student Group at NAU

Founding members of the Geodesign Student Group at NAU

Posted by Tom Paradis, NAU.

Apparently the concepts of Geodesign are gaining the attention of students as well as faculty and employers. During fall, 2012 my colleagues and I were pleased to see some of our undergraduate students in geography and planning take the initiative to found a new student organization here at NAU (with no initial prompting from us!). They settled on the professional-sounding name of Geodesign Student Group, which has already hosted several activities that include local field trips and guest visits by local and regional planners. They have also been visiting classes to secure contact information from potential new recruits. If you were at the recent Geodesign Summit in January, you may have seen some of them attending your sessions. Perhaps they can provide inspiration for other students elsewhere in the future! If you would like to see what they’ve been up to, here are some materials that they have created, including a web site, blog, Facebook page, and a feature article on the NAU homepage a few weeks ago. Our goal is to help them become sustainable so that future students will build on their excellent efforts!

GSG members took the lead on our department BBQ.

GSG members took the lead on our department BBQ.

 

The GeoDesign Industry Needs Your Students

by Doug Walker – June 27, 2011

(Doug Walker is president and principal of Placeways LLC)

“Oh good, the college students are here.”  My colleague Amy whispered it to me as we walked into the room, and I smiled.  Things were going well already.

We were in Galveston, Texas at the Texas A&M University campus, arriving to help set up for a public planning workshop the next day.  Our firm, Placeways, sells and uses geodesign software for land use planning projects all over the world, and we were there as consultants.  Our hosts were Prof. John Jacob and Steve Mikulencak of Texas A&M University’s Texas AgriLife Extension and the Texas Coastal Watershed Program.  This was their project:  an extension initiative focused on, in their words, “enabling coastal communities in Texas to improve quality of life in cities and towns while preserving and enhancing the natural coastal environment.”  Not only had they lined up some graduate students to help, they had come up with a great project name:  Coastal CHARM (Community Health and Resource Management) https://sites.google.com/site/galvestonbayresilience/home .

The workshop was designed to engage local stakeholders (municipal planners, resource managers, community leaders) more deeply in the regional planning process for the Houston-Galveston area.  It was part education, part participatory planning.  On the one hand, we wanted to teach participants about pertinent topics like jobs and housing, climate change, hurricane risk, and water quality.  On the other hand, we wanted to gain insights, opinions and local knowledge from them, who as local residents had unmatchable knowledge of life in their community.

Enter geodesign.  The centerpiece of the workshop was a hands-on tabletop sketching exercise using CommunityViz http://placeways.com/communityviz/index.php , the ArcGIS http://www.esri.com/software/arcgis/index.html  extension for planning and geodesign that our company makes.  The interface was projected on a low-cost “light table” set up using SmoothBoard software and Nintendo Wii remotes. Participants broke into small groups and gathered around tables displaying a live map of the region.  Using marker-like infrared pens as cursors, they pointed, clicked, and drew on the map to sketch growth plans for the next 35 years:  high-density housing here; a new job center there; preserve this as open space; etc.  As they sketched, charts and graphs tracked the likely implications of their plans on all those pertinent topics like hurricane risk and water quality.  I wrote more about it on another blog, which you can read here http://www.orton.org/blog/tabletop_planning_with_community_viz . It was fun, it was educational, and everyone—including the organizers—learned something about how the region works and what the future may hold.

The CHARM system is one of the niftier examples of tabletop sketching I’ve seen lately, but it is not the only one and the practice is growing and improving fast.  We had the chance to support a similar project on Cape Cod, for example, under the auspices of the FHWA, EPA, and a number of other federal agencies working with the Volpe Center http://www.volpe.dot.gov/publiclands/projects/capecod5_interag.html .  Another example, which appeared recently in ArcNews, is from the Netherlands, where Gustavo Arciniegas of the Institute for Environmental Studies at VU University in Amsterdam uses similar approaches http://placeways.com/communityviz/gallery/casestudies/pdf/Bodegraven.pdf .

So why did the presence of university students at the set-up session make Amy and me smile?  Setting aside the happy certainty that someone would be around to eat any leftover food, there were about four good reasons:

  1. Most prosaically, we knew the technology would be in good hands.  ArcGIS, CommunityViz, the light table setup—none of them is especially hard to use once it’s loaded and ready to go, but it’s a pretty tall stack of technology and that means there’s a lot to keep track of.  We could assign one student to provide technical support to each table and be confident they would be comfortable, savvy, unflustered should anything go slightly awry. Everyone else at the table could stop worrying about the computers and start focusing on the planning tasks at hand. This is a specific lesson for this particular kind of workshop, but it is also a more general lesson about a valuable role students can play in almost any kind of academic service or extension program that is using newer technology like geodesign that may be intimidating to the general public.
  2. The workshop would have better age diversity.  The average age at most public meetings we attend is well over 50 years.  Citizens over 50 seem to have more time or inclination to participate in activities like community planning, but they represent less than a third of population.  Even in professional meetings like the CHARM workshop, most attendees are well beyond their college years.  Students in their twenties bring a fresh and important perspective to the discussion, so we’re always glad to see them, even if it’s a homework assignment that forced them to show. 
  3. The students would be learning how this stuff works.  As practitioners who promote innovation, we at Placeways have a vested interest in the next generation.  We want them to know about our latest technology and—as importantly—how it applies in the real world.  After graduation, they’ll take that knowledge and those new methods with them into their jobs and practice, eventually making approaches like geodesign a standard part of how planning is done.  Here’s a corollary, which I guess I’ll call Reason 3a:
    1.  As an employer of geography and planning graduates, I can tell you that even a perfect classroom record won’t guarantee a new graduate a job interview unless there is some real-world experience to go with it.  Geodesign is not just a technical exercise.  It’s about making GIS, models, data, and science available to ordinary people in a way they can actually use.  A student who hasn’t worked with that part of it hasn’t really learned geodesign.
    2. We knew we would learn from the students.  We work with students in contexts like this, and we also see them in CommunityViz classes or workshops we sometimes teach at high school, college, graduate, or continuing education levels.  Well-taught students ask questions and have suggestions of their own.  They draw ideas from their own life experience—social networking and video gaming, for example—as well as the breadth of their coursework.  Speaking at least for ourselves at Placeways, but also I suspect for other vendors and practitioners around the industry, these student perspectives are a valuable source of innovative thinking.

Geodesign is still emerging as a field and as a practice.  At Placeways we’re in the middle of it, so it’s a good bet I don’t have perfect perspective.  But from here on the front, I see it bursting out all over.  Geodesign today is where GIS was 20 years ago—finally reaching a stage where the technology is powerful enough to be easy to use, arriving just in time for an audience that is hungry for better ways to connect what we as communities know with what we as a communities decide to do.  The education of today’s students—our society’s next generation of geographers, planners and designers—will be incomplete without geodesign technology, geodesign processes, and geodesign philosophy. 

Plus, Amy and I might be doing a workshop near you, and we’re kind of looking for some college student volunteers…?

(Post submitted by Doug Walker, June 27, 2011. Posted by Tom Paradis)

Defining GeoDesign

I feel as though I have a good understanding of what Geodesign is.  However, like with most things, my definition is often different than others.  I searched for a few definitions and came across these from Philip Murphy….

1) GeoDesign is anything that has artistic visualizations of the landscape or features on the landscape

2) GeoDesign is designing actions that change a landscape (this seems to be Jack D’s favorite)

3) GeoDesign is using maps to tell stories

4) GeoDesign is any time you do landscape planning where you iteratively develop by a) sketching (prototyping, visualizing) a design on a map, and b)having an analysis capability that can calculate (in real time) consequences of that that sketched design, and c) elicit feedback (in real time) to improve the design.

Interesting how they cross over.  Our new undergraduate curriculum at NAU focuses on geographic sciences and community planning.  What do you think?  Sounds like geodesign to me……

- Mark Manone

What makes an academic program a GeoDesign program?

Based on your own understanding of GeoDesign and what it has to offer, please comment on some attributes, pedagogies, outcomes or other aspects that you would hope to see in a Geodesign-related curriculum, whether graduate or undergraduate, or both. Don’t worry, you don’t need to be comprehensive, as we expect others to add their own perspectives.

- Tom Paradis

Birth of a GeoDesign Curriculum at NAU

Celebration with appropriate food.

On March 1, 2011 the University Curriculum Committee approved our new undergraduate degree program, called Geographic Science and Community Planning (or GSP for short). This was an ambitious effort to combine three former degree programs into one (see The NAU Approach). After a year and a half of countless meetings, emails, and documents, this final UCC meeting seemed a bit anticlimactic. After a brief presentation, a few questions and some successive votes, it was a done deal. During the UCC meeting, one question got to the heart of the matter:

“So, why didn’t you call your new degree GeoDesign?”

After shoving my jaw back in place, I quickly realized that this UCC member had carefully read our new catalog “blurb” that explains a bit about the degree for students. This is the first place where we are embedding the concept of Geodesign into our promotional materials. As approved, the catalog introduction reads:

  • This major integrates geographic knowledge and GIS mapping technologies with the problem-solving fields of community planning and urban design. Known as Geodesign, this educational framework will prepare you to create more livable and sustainable communities while contributing to a better world. We focus on small class size, high student-teacher interaction, on-site field experiences, and diverse learning opportunities outside the traditional classroom.

My colleagues and I had only learned about the concept of Geodesign in November, 2010 when Mark Manone announced that the second annual GeoDesign Summit was going to take place in January, hosted by ESRI. My schedule allowed me to attend, so I volunteered to represent the department at the Summit and, of course, to return with a full report (which I REDUCED to six pages). By February, our full faculty was aware of the concept to varying degrees, and discussions continued about the new name of our degree program.

Ah, the name… Why not “GeoDesign”? Perhaps an indication of how young this concept is on the national scene, our faculty agreed unanimously (with some more adamantly than others) that it was too early to identify an entire undergraduate major around the concept of GeoDesign itself. Still, we had played with names such as “GeoDesign and Community Planning,” and “Environment, Community, and Geodesign” (I liked variations of the latter). Our employers and students still recognize the titles of “community planning” and “geographic science,” for instance. So, despite the lengthy name for the new major, we kept it.

The UCC member who asked the question seemed to understand our rationale, and followed up with, “Perhaps you’ll be back in a couple of years to change the name,” smiling. I replied with a simple, “Perhaps”. For now, we are enthusiastic about finding ways to teach and promote concepts and applications of GeoDesign within our curriculum which, we believe, lends itself very well to the notion of integrating the design professions with the geographic sciences and technologies.

Chair Pam Foti announces the cause for celebration after the final UCC meeting.