GIS Workshop for Rural Research

Rural Cultural Research Project

On March 18-19, the workshop "Geographical Information Systems (GIS) for Cultural Research" was held at the University of Wollongong. Organised by A/Prof. Chris Gibson, Dr. Andrew Gorman-Murray and Dr. Kate Bowles (all CRN members from UOW), and with able assistance from Beth Herbert and Chris Brennan-Horley, the workshop attracted three visitors from the United States (Sarah Elwood, University of Washington, Prof. Bobby Allen, UNC Chapel Hill, A/Prof. Jeff Klenotic, University of New Hampshire) and approximately 20 other academics and postgraduates from around Australia. The workshop comprised keynote presentations by Dr. Elwood and A/Prof. Klenotic, and a roundtable discussion on innovation in cultural research, led by Dr Bowles, Prof. Allen and Prof. David Marshall (CRN, UOW). In addition, a series of computer workshops was conducted in UOW's Spatial Analysis Laboratories on different applications of GIS technologies for cultural research. The event dovetailed with another, "Innovation and interdisciplinarity in media history research", led by Dr. Bowles and Prof. Allen, also at UOW (sponsored by the CRN's Media Histories node). Discussions are underway about research outcomes spanning from the GIS workshop, including new research projects, integration of GIS into existing projects, and a possible book on GIS for Cultural Research.

GIS is a technological means to gather, store, map and analyse information with spatial attributes, such as locations, directions, boundaries, routes and networks. GIS has for many years been dominated by fields such as physical geography, surveying, and environmental science. More recently, GIS has infiltrated popular culture (for instance in car map navigation systems) and new media technologies (such as GPSenabled mobile phones). GIS is also an increasingly common research tool in cultural geography, history and social planning.

This workshop brought together a small number of people with two aims: first, to showcase through paper presentations some examples of how GIS has been used in cutting-edge cultural research; and second, to conduct a series of exercises for those with no or little experience with GIS, to become more familiar with its concepts and infrastructure, its possibilities and limitations.


Monday March 17

10:00am – 10:30am Arrival and registration
Location UOW Building 41, room 157
10:30am – 10:45am Welcome, Prof. Lesley Head (UOW)
Introductions: A/Prof. Chris Gibson (UOW), Dr Kate Bowles (UOW), Dr Andrew Gorman-Murray (UOW)
11:00am – 11:45am Keynote presentation: Dr Sarah Elwood, University of Washington, USA
“Re-imagining GIS within critical, cultural, and community-engaged geographies”
11:45am – 12:15pm A/Prof. Jeff Klenotic, University of New Hampshire, USA
“Film History at the Crossroads: GIS and the Road Less Travelled”
12:15pm – 12:40pm Janine Friedrich, Judith Crockett, Craig Poynter and Deanna Duffy, Charles
Sturt University “Applying the concepts of social catchments for community participation in NRM”
12:40pm – 1:00pm Chris Brennan-Horley and Chris Gibson, University of Wollongong
“Using maps creatively to more critically understand the creative city”
1:00pm – 2:00pm LUNCH
2:00pm – 5:00pm LAB SESSION – GIS exercises
Location: UOW Building 41, Spatial Analysis Labs (ground floor)
1. An Intro to GIS & basic exploration (SE)
2. Digitizing sketch maps and adding information to features (SE)
3. 'Low tech' geovisualization techniques (SE)
5:00pm – 6:30pm Wine and cheese reception
Location: UOW Building 41 foyer

Tuesday 18 March

9:30am – 12:30pm LAB SESSION – GIS exercises
Location: UOW Building 41, Spatial Analysis Labs (ground floor)
1. ‘Map-mashing’ (CBH)
2. Hyperlinking from ArcGIS to multi-media (SE)
3. Mapping cultural census data (CBH)
12:30pm – 2:00pm LUNCH
2:00pm – 3:00pm Paper presentation:
Heidi Brown, Spatial Analysis Laboratories, University of Wollongong: data management and infrastructure support for GIS
Location UOW Building 41, room 157
3:00pm – 4:30pm

"Innovation, industry and interdisciplinary collaboration: what does all this mean to cultural researchers?"
A roundtable co-hosted by the ARC Cultural Research Network and the UOW Innovation in Cultural Research Group
Location UOW Building 41, room 157

The interpretation of innovation in Australian Higher Education planning continues to be shaped by the agenda developed in Government for the support of industrial and economic innovation. Opportunities available to cultural researchers to make a contribution to this national agenda are less obvious. This roundtable, bringing together national and international colleagues, is a valuable opportunity to think about what it means to innovate in cultural research.

Chaired by Prof David Marshall, University of Wollongong
Including a presentation by Prof Robert C. Allen, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill