story by Claire Miller
Assistant Professor Ben Shapiro worked with colleagues at Vanderbilt University on the Mapping Self in Society Project (MaSelfS), a Spencer Foundation and National Science Foundation-funded project to develop curriculum for teachers interested in teaching personal geography.
MaSelfS, now available online, features free activities and tools educators can use to teach students how to gather, organize and visualize data on their personal movements in their communities.
Students learn how to use novel geospatial tools to collect their physical movement data, clean and process their data, and visualize their data over different digital maps and over time.
The MaSelfS curriculum not only provides students with hands-on activities to learn about human geography, but also gives teachers and researchers the opportunity to have broader discussions with their classes about ethical uses of location-based data.
“Teachers and students become more critical consumers of technologies that collect, process and analyze data about people’s lives,” Shapiro said. “Likewise, teachers and students are able to ask and answer questions about how social and cultural practices relate to their everyday lives in ways that support discussions on topics such as data privacy, race and diversity, and how neighborhoods and communities have changed over time to shape how public history is told and not told.”