About this course

ANTHRO 130B/230B: Introduction to GIS in Anthropology

This is course provides an introduction to basic concepts of spatial data, spatial analysis and techniques in the Social Sciences with a focus on Anthropology. You will acquire skills in using relevant GIS software and gain experience in collecting, managing and analyzing spatial data within a social science context. You will learn to think critically about spatial data and gain the ability to apply a spatial approach to topics of social science research. 

In particular we will address the following questions: How do we design a spatial question? How do we collect spatial information? What kind of resources exist for spatial social science data? How do we work with spatial social science data? What are common pitfalls in analyzing spatial data? What are techniques in representing spatial data? What are techniques in querying spatial data? How do we incorporate data into a spatial framework, or GIS? How do we argue with a map? How do we perform spatial analysis?

Throughout the course, we will answer those questions using the example of spatial patterns of inequality. We will approach this theme in a broad range of ways, from a global to a local scale. How are groups of populations distributed by age, gender, class, race? What kind of patterns can we observe, and what might cause those patterns? In which spatial contexts do those patterns emerge?

The course consists of a seminar component, which serves the discussion of readings on GIS and social science topics; a lecture component, where GIS material is introduced; and an in-class lab component, where student groups collaborate in a hands-on experience with GIS questions and tools. The readings include GIS textbook material and online tutorials as well as substantive readings from anthropology and related social science fields. They also include a few historical pieces, groundbreaking at their time and influential for the way we practice GIS and spatial analysis today.

The course is geared towards students with no prior knowledge of GIS. It will require extensive use of computers and software. Since much of the benefit from this course will come from working through the evidence, you are expected to spend a significant amount of time engaging with data and case studies.

Students who may need an academic accommodation based on the impact of a disability must initiate the request with the Office of Accessible Education (OAE). Professional staff will evaluate the request with required documentation, recommend reasonable accommodations, and prepare an Accommodation Letter for faculty dated in the current quarter in which the request is being made. Students should contact the OAE as soon as possible since timely notice is needed to coordinate accommodations. The OAE is located at 563 Salvatierra Walk; phone: 723-1066; web site http://studentaffairs.stanford.edu/oae.