Category Archives: social sciences

Tracking GIS&T Degrees vs. Workforce

And another thing, told in simple terms from this landing-page image you too can create from this Data USA site.  That number of degrees awarded in 2016 (1,923, which they measure as growing at 5.31%). In 2013, they calculated that there were 1,419 GIS&T degrees granted.

BUT, the “people in the workforce” number, 3.63 million, comes from a much larger group of graduates: all of those considered to have degrees in the “social sciences.” That is not a very helpful way for us to track GIS&T graduates!  We really have no good or confident sense of where graduates are ultimately getting jobs. Tracking recent graduates is notoriously difficult, and I can personally attest to that.

Is our supply of GIS&T graduates well aligned, in quantity and quality, with the actual jobs that they want to go into and that they’re qualified to go into?  A $64,000 question, or if you believe this figure, a $90,421 dollar question (which is ALSO using data from “Social Sciences”!).

ScreenHunter_493 Apr. 24 08.44

Geographicity? Say that 3 times fast.

Learned a new word today, geographicity. It’s in the title of an upcoming edX MOOC offered by a group of Swiss geographersExploring Human’s Space: an Introduction to Geographicity. A class designed to “explore how geography, cartography, urbanization and spatial justice play a role in shaping the notion of human space.”  Sounds marvelous and could be, if done well, an interesting entry into the somewhat opaque social-science side of my beloved discipline of geography.

The word itself – geographicity – is unlikely to ever make the OED. It was coined sometime after 1999 by two philosophers, Gary Backhaus and John Murungi. I first saw its definition (geographicity = the spatial component of all phenomena) in the preface of their 2007 book, Colonial and Global Interfacings: Imperial Hegemonies and Democratizing Resistances.  Geographicity also figures prominently in Esoscapes: Geographical Patternings of Relations, and Lived Topographies and their Mediational Forces.

passage about geographicityHere’s a passage from where I first saw the term discussed, from the preface of the Colonial and Global Interfacings books. Go ahead, read it through and challenge yourself to understand. I have, several times, and I’m still clueless.  Absurdly and gratuitously confusing academic-speak.

I really do have much respect for social theorists. Some of my best friends are social theorists. (okay, not really).  I’ve enjoyed the rich dialogue between fellow geographers about just this topic recently.  In this case, it’s philosophers writing and not geographers, but, still, I’d argue that this passage lies at the extreme edge of English-language communication.

Census data, a traditional approach to US social information

If you’re looking to map people across the US, there is no source of information with as much comprehensive coverage at the Census data. Of course it might not be the type of information you want, but you’ll have to take that up with Congress.

Meanwhile, here are a couple of sources for it:

American Fact Finder, info from the source itself.  Be brave and dive in.

Social Explorer, a long-time favorite, especially if you just want to LOOK at Census maps.

the National Historical Geographic Information System. A funny name for what it is: a good source for raw historical data.  Plus the only source I know of for historical boundary files.

Mining (and then Mapping) Wikileaks

My colleagues from the University of Virginia have posted another step-by-step on their Spatial Humanities site, this one from Devin Becker, a digital initiatives librarian at the University of Idaho.   You too can follow Devin’s (tried and true) instructions and dive into Wikileaks yourself, with his 2-part example of the Afghan War Diary data.

One particularly great thing about this guide?   A simple entry to  Google Fusion tables, for those of us who haven’t had the time to play at all yet.  Thanks, Devin.

I tried to find a link to a website for Devin at the University of Idaho, and failed. But in the process I did uncover his cool design for Visualizing Metadata.  My library friends at Redlands will like this…

the Wicked Witch of Finance

I have absolutely no formal background in international economics, politics, or finance, but at some point I came across the blog of Chris Blattman and  have been a faithful follower ever since.  I like his explanations, his humility, his dedication to teaching, and his sense of humor.   Like today’s entry in which he likens the world of finance to cruel and unusual acts of violence.

neighborhood watch

Nice memories of my year in Lisbon, under the watchful eyes of the old women in windows.

China’s population

Nice graphic to convey the massive size of China’s population.

20th century conflict history via food fights

For Emily’s social studies lesson today, we watched this and figured who was whom and why (when, where) they were blowing each other up. An excellent home-schooling learning opportunity.

Look for the Food Fight video.

the week with Elvi

Elvi went back to her work in Buenos Aires last Sunday evening. She lives with a family in the northern suburb of Acasusso, cooking and cleaning in return for room, board, and 850 pesos/month (about $275 USD). A typical work week for a live-in housekeeper is from 9 am Monday through Saturday after lunch, with the remainder of Saturday and Sundays free. She stays with friends or family on her “free” nights. Now that she’s worked for that family for five years (since 2003, after she’d worked for us during Argentina 1), she also gets two or three weeks of “vacation” a year, and that was how she came to be at our house last week. 

We had some fascinating conversations, Elvi and I. She’s 32-years-old though could pass for 18, and stands about 4’10” (we didn’t actually measure heights, but all of my kids have surpassed her since we’d last been together). She’d left Peru in 2000, looking for better employment opportunities than the dishwashing she was doing in Quito, where she’d gone when she left her hometown of Trujillo at age 14. At least three of her sisters have also come to Argentina to do childcare, housekeeping, or other domestic work. All of them send money each month back to their parents and extended family in Peru, since even the few pesos they makes here far surpass what they’d be making there. One sister now even works for a family in Italy; positions in western Europe and the US are the most highly coveted and difficult to obtain.

[This spring I’ve been co-teaching with a colleague from the Government dept at Redlands, a course on political economy in which we’d been mapping remittance flows amongst Latin American countries and the US. I’m living in one of my maps right now.]

It isn’t so often that one spends 9 days with one’s ex-housekeeper, when they’re on vacation and NOT working, and I was NOT on vacation and was working. It wasn’t hard to learn a lot about her life. Elvi’s one of those people who wakes up talking and talks all day and then talks some more until it’s time to go to bed at night. She works hard, has no home of her own, has no chance to save anything, and has few expectations for being able to significantly improve her lot. She’d like to be married and would love to be having her own children. A common sentiment for single women in their 30s. During one of our food-shopping walks around town she mentioned that sometimes she dares even think about having a baby on her own, and in my well-intentioned-but-remarkably-insensitive way I started telling her about a friend of mine who’d been debating the same thing and how it really could be possible, and Elvi turned to look at me like I was insane. Oh, right. My friend is from the States, has a steady job with benefits, makes over $50,000/yr, and has an extensive support network of nearby family and friends who can help out. Yet another thing that I’ve failed to think about much during my bourgeois and pampered life – how complicated the choice of motherhood could be to someone whose sole and small source of income requires constant physical labor and presence. For a while after that we walked in silence, which was a change.

Highlights of the week included Elvi sticking to the velcro wall at the birthday party, Elvi learning how to play Bubble Breaker (on my PDA) and Pokemon on Eric’s gameboy, numerous giggling sessions with all the children, and her showing me Trujillo on Google Earth. What a wild world this is, to sit in Argentina and have Elvi navigate around Peru with me.