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Course Description

Mapping can be a powerful tool for communities to use to better manage their resources, plan for the future, record and utilize local knowledge, raise awareness about areas of concern in their environmental and social landscape, and communicate their priorities and concerns to external agencies or government officials. This course will explore theories, ethics, applications, and methods of community-based mapping and its role in participatory learning and action as well as larger processes of integrated community-based development. Students will be encouraged to develop a specific research/mapping question relevant to their interests and/or work and with the help of the instructor, will identity the mapping methods and tools to answer that question creating both a final product for the course as well as solid foundation that can be utilized in a more community-based research setting.

Upon completion of this course participants will be able to:

Summarize the basic principles, theories, and ethics of Community-based mapping and its role in Community-based development
Identify which mapping methods and tools are most appropriate to achieve the desired objectives in your community
Locate and utilize existing geographic information data sets, online and elsewhere, for specific project areas
Perform some basic mapping functions including projecting GPS coordinates onto a map, downloading and projecting satellite images, creating features from aerial imagery, and more.

Testimonials from Past Course Participants for Community-based Mapping:

“This class was fascinating and challenging for me…Despite the steep learning curve this was a good class for me to take – it made me think about maps and narratives and the visual representation of concepts in a new way.”

“I ask myself, “How could we have avoided speaking with Afghans and engaged them in true participation all of these years, but managed to develop Afghan refugee, displacement and management policies without them?”” – UNDP Employee

“I am grateful to this course to make me think about space and power in such pronounced and palpable terms.” – UNDP Employee

“The assertion that mapping is power and that there are differences between mapping and community based mapping stuns me. This whole course is really an eye opener. When Dave wrote back to me after I described what I was hoping would be the end product “map” for a service area for a Head Start program and asked, “Who will be the participants in the mapping project” it really made me think. These assigned readings make me think. Your conversations make me think. One of the most profound readings was on the ethical considerations. More thinking – what am I trying to do here. As part of my job, merely asking programs to use maps of someone else’s making to communicate where they are and what they’re proposing to do in those locations. Not so simple, eh?”

“I think I learned many things during this class – ranging from ownership of a map to how to draw a polygon – and am very much looking forward to a first experience of community-based mapping and to get more comfortable with technical aspects.”

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Learn more about the VE/CSU Online Certificate Program