Vassar GIS Day 2020: Speakers, Map Gallery, and Follow-Up

On November 11, 2020, Vassar College Earth Science and Geography Department, the Environmental Cooperative at the Vassar Barns, and Vassar College Office of Community Engaged Learning (OCEL) hosted an online GIS Day event featuring student, faculty, and staff speakers from various departments across campus including Hudson Valley Mappers (the Vassar College-based chapter of Youth Mappers), Urban Studies, Vassar Ecological Preserve, Anthropology, Philosophy, Biology, and Geography.

Presentations spanned a wide variety of topics in different disciplines. Some of the maps from these and other projects can be viewed at the GIS Day Map Gallery, and include:

  • Community resource mapping for Dutchess County agencies and residents
  • Ecological communities mapping at the Vassar Ecological Preserve
  • Mapping the Dutchess County Poorhouse and Asylum cemetery
  • Using StoryMaps in philosophy classes
  • Mapping tree and plant specimens in Vassar Arboretum and Skalanes Nature Reserve in Iceland
  • Conducting Community Greenhouse Gas Inventories for Hudson Valley municipalities

Following the presentations, a discussion focused on how to foster collaboration and skills-building among those using and interested in geospatial mapping applications produced some constructive suggestions, including: 1) creating a GIS-focused email list that members can use to inform and support each other, 2) hosting regular, informal “mappy hour” type events to network and skill share among GIS users at Vassar, 3) bringing in speakers from organizations and agencies outside Vassar to provide insight on practical GIS applications and use-cases, and 4) increasing access and lowering the barrier of entry to geospatial mapping tools on campus.

Following up on the first of these suggestions, the gis-mapping email list was created. Contact GIS Academic Computing Consultant Neil Curri to join the gis-mapping email list. Organizers of Vassar’s GIS Day are engaged in various efforts to follow up on the other suggestions. Updates will be posted here and sent to the gis-mapping email list.