Environmental Geomatics and
11:015:425 Cook Junior/Senior Colloquium
of Information Technology to Land Use Issues:
Profs. Richard Lathrop
and David Tulloch
All landscapes are dynamic, whether as a result of natural processes or human interventions. Traditionally, we have often distinguished between the two by the pace at which the change has occurred. However, under some circumstances, it is becoming increasingly difficult to discern between landscape changes caused by natural processes and those resulting from artificially constructed processes. This lack of distinction underscores the need to examine the physical manifestations of change in the landscape. Monitoring, measuring, mapping, interpreting and communicating landscape change are absolutely essential in order to describe and understand these phenomena in a comprehensible manner.
The relationship between landscape change and information technology has been explored by a number of researchers, but in limited ways that have not been well coordinated. A more focused research effort with coordinated reporting of research findings could dramatically accelerate the rate at which the academic and professional communities address landscape change issues. Addressing these issues in a timely fashion will certainly become important as so many different areas experience irreversible change.
One of the plaguing problems (and potential solutions) in addressing the issues shaping our landscapes is the relationship between information and landscape change. At the same time that sprawl is consuming countless landscapes, an increasing number of communities are adopting geospatial information technologies as a tool for addressing growth-related issues. As the most densely populated state in the nation - 8 million residents in roughly 8,000 square miles -- New Jersey has witnessed some significant landscape change. Between 1984 and 1995, the state saw developed areas grow by 17% (Lathrop, Hasse and Bognar 2000). However, the ability to describe and measure growth in New Jersey comes from innovative data production and distribution policies which have produced a wide variety of publicly accessible geospatial data, and have gotten non-government organizations involved in decision-making processes (Tulloch 1998). These two conditions combine to create some sophisticated discussions about the ways in which IT (including GIS, GPS, and remote sensing) is altering our ability to understand, research, and participate in shaping the process of landscape change.
The class will rely on experiences and knowledge from a variety of backgrounds, sophisticated spatial technologies, and exploration of new ideas as means to better understanding the topic of landscape change.
The class will pursue 3 different
aspects of landscape change:
Analysis and measurement of patterns of landscape change in New Jersey;
Studies of issues and implications of landscape change; and
Identification of tools and techniques to address landscape change.
Since the colloquium is student-driven,
the ways in which we will explore these topics remain somewhat to be determined.
However, at this point we would anticipate the semester to proceed something
|January||What is Landscape Change? Why do we care?||Readings and Class Discussions|
|February||How is the change actually happening? Measurement and Assessment of change Land use and land cover||Lectures
Local Guest Speakers
|Early March||Implications of
Build-out analysis and growth scenarios
New software applications?
Individual Research Project
|Late March||Advances in the "field" of landscape change||"Expert" Guest Speakers|
|Early April||Tools and techniques
Policies and practices with potential for altering landscape change
|Late April||Putting it all together||Final Paper/Project|
Over the course of the semester we expect three major assignments.
The individual research project should incorporate existing data from the library and GIS/RS, and/or newly collected/generated data into an individual project that describes some specific changes that are happening in specific landscapes. For colloquium students this might mean conducting "spreadsheet" analysis of change based on existing reports. Geomatics students might instead try to generate new measures of change in the landscape. Each project will be summed up with a short research paper that can be posted on the web (see last year's individual papers which are currently online).
The group project will explore potential future changes in the landscape. Using techniques taught in class groups may explore future growth scenarios for a city or region showing different ways that landscape change might occur. Some projects might be spatially-explicit while others might focus on other aspects of change like economics.
Finally, each student will be required to produce a final paper or project that addresses landscape change. These can be posters, web pages and/or papers, depending on what you negotiate with the instructors. They should present both some sort of landscape change problem and propose some initial types of solutions.
For colloquium students, the expectations are simply that you should come prepared to try new things, with an interest in the class, and a willingness to share your existing skills with the class.
The expectations for geomatics students is that they actually remember the geomatics skills that they have already been taught. And when the don't quite remember them, that they exhibit some personal initiative in relearning those old skills so we can focus in class on adding new skills.
We expect that the class will undertake a rigorous investigation of the issues surrounding landscape change and produce a professional quality materials. It is our hope that the class’s effort will have a real and tangible impact on these issues in New Jersey. We also expect that the students in the class will contribute not only to the course work, but also to the course itself. Specifically, students should participate actively in class discussions and decisions and provide guidance throughout the semester for the selection of speakers and topics.
For next Monday, we would encourage you to look over two different web sites:
Landscape Change in New Jersey
The Workshop on Landscape Change
"description without prescription may be Science,
but prescription without description is malpractice."
- Dana Tomlin
Looking Back: No two years are the same. In 2001 we conducted an assessment of the New Jersey Highlands. You can still see many of the papers and maps from that class. Much more is available at CRSSA if you are interested. In 2000, we looked at the allocation of 1,000,000 acres of Open Space in New Jersey.