I am an alumna of the Geography Undergraduate Program (circa 2013). I first became acquainted with Syracuse Community Geography in the spring of 2013. A course intrigued me simply by its title: Community Geography. I have always wanted to work directly with communities in one way or another. This course really helped me explore this unique facet of geography, and what a way to finish my undergraduate experience! My group and I were paired with a local community partner to create educational maps about urban forestry, and specifically trees planted-to-date in Syracuse. We looked for spatial hot spots and compared the planted-to-date data with some socioeconomic data, chosen based on a literature review of the benefits of urban greenery. For example, we mapped trees planted-to-date and canopy cover against asthma discharge rates. The final report gave suggestions of which areas of the city could potentially benefit from more tree-planting initiatives. SCG allowed students to gain practical, hands-on experience in not only GIS, but participation and collaboration with local community organizations and individuals, as well. It certainly helped prepare me for what “real-life” GIS might look like. In fact, I enjoyed it so much I came on as an intern with SCG helping with other community projects past and present.
It is incredible to see the amount of time and effort that goes into a single project. As soon as data are collected and organized, an analysis can be performed. These analyses can show geographical trends and can introduce new goals and questions to be addressed. Furthermore, it’s not simply the maps that are important, but the human-to-human contact and information sharing that makes SCG projects so worth-while and invaluable. To project leaders, send your requests our way! To interested students, don’t hesitate to come in and ask more about SCG or take a course to learn more! To the public, we look forward to doing our best to provide you with useful and accessible information!
2015 Update: I am working as a GIS Specialist-Peace Corps Volunteer in Mexico while simultaneously completing my Master’s through SUNY-ESF. Peace Corps has a program called Master’s International where Master’s students either do a project or conduct research as part of their Peace Corps experience. Now, I am in a three-month training period, learning about forest fire management and participatory analysis for community action among other things. Mexico is an incredible country with warm, welcoming people and delectable food! It’s been fun just getting to know people and different places.