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Media Advisory 10-032

From Community Mapping to Critical Spatial Thinking

On Nov. 17, as part of NSF's Distinguished Lecture series, world-renowned geographer Michael Goodchild discusses the changing face of GIS

Photo of geographer Michael Goodchild.

Michael Goodchild talks about how individuals use social networks to define landscapes.

November 15, 2010

View a video with Michael Goodchild, director of the University of California, Santa Barbara's Center for Spatial Studies.

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

Change is coming in the way people create knowledge about the geographic environment in which they live, and it's causing seismic paradigm shifts. Community mapping, a form of citizen science whereby local people participate in geographically defining an area, is increasingly taking on greater significance--especially during times of emergency and natural disaster.

As part of the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Distinguished Lecture series, geographer Michael Goodchild gives a talk on Nov. 17 titled, "From Community Mapping to Critical Spatial Thinking: The Changing Face of GIS (geographic information systems)." He will discuss how individuals are using distributed, real-time data enabled by social networks to define landscapes that have been suddenly altered by floods, hurricanes and other acts of nature. He says these methods differ sharply from map-making tradition and they're forcing geographers to shift their thinking from analyzing geographic information to synthesizing it from many sources.

Ultimately, he will discuss what these and other changes mean for geo-education, grounding his argument in fundamental spatial concepts that hold the key to simplifying the GIS user interface and redefining the goals of GIS education.

This Distinguished Lecture is sponsored by NSF's Directorate for Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences.

What:NSF SBE Distinguished Lecture

Who:Michael Goodchild, Director of University of California, Santa Barbara's Center for Spatial Studies

When:November 17, 2010, 2:00-3:00 p.m. EST

Where:Room 555, Stafford II
4121 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, Va. 22230

Metro:Orange Line to Ballston

Note: Visitors must RSVP to Bobbie Mixon in the Office of Legislative and Public Affairs to register for a visitor pass for access to the Stafford II building. Contact Bobbie by email or phone (703) 292-8485.


Media Contacts
Bobbie Mixon, NSF, (703) 292-8485, email:

Program Contacts
Jennifer L. Thornhill, NSF, (703) 292-7273, email:

Principal Investigators
Michael Goodchild, University of California, Santa Barbara, (805) 893-8049, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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