Fall 2017 GIS Workshops

The Center for Spatial Research will be offering a workshop series in fall 2017 designed to give a basic introduction to core concepts and methods for work with geographic information systems in the urban humanities. The hands-on workshop series aims to contribute to existing campus-wide GIS resources, and is thus tailored to students doing coursework and research in the urban humanities with no prior GIS experience. It is open to students from all schools at Columbia University.

Interested participants must register for one session of each workshop. The registration period closed on September 22nd.

Participants must bring their own laptop to each session – workshops will use QGIS a free and open source software that runs on both Mac and Windows operating systems. 

Thinking in Space: an Introduction to QGIS (3 hours)

Session A: September 26, 5-8pm; Session B – September 29, 1-4pm

This workshop will introduce participants to core concepts of geographic information systems (GIS) through the open source GIS software QGIS. Participants will learn how to create maps of existing spatial datasets, formulate and answer spatial questions, and design compelling maps.

After this workshop participants will be able to:

  • Add layers to a map project
  • Comprehend the components of a shapefile
  • Design a compelling map composition
  • Perform basic queries on a GIS dataset, using both tabular and spatial queries 
  • Perform a table join to add additional data to an existing shapefile’s attribute table

Data in Space: Creating Spatial Data from Historical or Analog Sources (3 hours)

Session A – October 10, 5-8pm; Session B – October 13, 1-4pm

This workshop will introduce participants to methods for creating data for historical GIS applications. The workshop will cover how to give geographic coordinates (georeference) scanned historical maps using QGIS, as well as how to digitize (trace) features from this scanned map to create new shapefiles. These are two key ways of creating spatial data from historical or other sources. Additional online tools for georeferencing scanned maps will also be introduced.

After this workshop participants will be able to:

  • Gain fluency in geo-referencing scanned paper maps
  • Understand how to create new datasets by digitizing features from a scanned paper map
  • Understand principals behind how to encode qualitative or quantitative data in spreadsheets to work with in a GIS
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