WISERD recently co-organised a special symposium on Qualitative GIS at the 2012 annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers (AAG) in New York. The AAG conference is one of the largest in the world, attracting an average 7000-8000 international participants. The symposium was organised by Stephen Burgess (WISERD, Cardiff); Mei-Po Kwan (Ohio State University); Matthew Wilson (University of Kentucky) and Marianna Pavolvskaya (Hunter College, City University of New York). The two-day, eight session stream was one of seven featured themes within the conference and was highlighted on the conference website and other promotional material.
The symposium was highly successful and enjoyable. A variety of interesting presentations explored different aspects of Qualitative GIS and prompted wide ranging debate around the topic. Conversation was enhanced by the consistently high number of delegates attending the sessions, many following the symposium from beginning to end. This allowed ideas to develop and be explored as the symposium progressed. As well as co-organising the symposium, WISERD staff directly inputted into the stream as presenters (Scott); chairs (Stephen); discussants (Stephen) and panellists (Stephen). The symposium ended with a round table in which panellists Mei-Po Kwan; Jeremy Crampton; LaDona Knigge; Marianna Pavlovskaya; Matthew Wilson and Stephen Burgess led a discussion on the past, present and potential futures of Qualitative GIS.
Qualitative GIS is a growing research area concerned with the integration of qualitative and GIS data on space and place in order to further geographical research. WISERD input into the symposium was part of work the institute has been developing over the last three years, particularly through the work of Stephen Burgess and Scott Orford. Stephen and Scott have presented at many conferences on aspects of Qualitative GIS. Stephen has also been an invited speaker on the subject, as well as teaching Qualitative GIS workshops.
A key moment in this work was organising and hosting the First international Qualitative GIS conference in Cardiff (August 2010). Since 2010, WISERD has helped develop an international network of academics interested in Qualitative GIS. This has included the visit of Mei-Po Kwan to WISERD as Cardiff University visiting scholar. It is through this network that the idea for a Qualitative GIS strand at AAG 2012 was conceived and implemented. The intent was to build on some of the conversations that started at the 2010 conference in Cardiff and present these to an increasingly broad audience.
As WISERD moves forward, staff will continue to develop the Qualitative GIS project as part of the data integration strand. Leading directly on from the conference, Timothy Hawthorne (Georgia State University) has visited WISERD and is currently working with Stephen and colleagues in Cardiff and Swansea Universities to undertake joint-writing projects and develop grant bids to secure funding for collaborative international projects around areas of shared interest.
For more information on this, please contact Stephen Burgess.