SSCI 135g: Maps in the Digital World

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SSCI 135g: Maps in the Digital World

Satisfies General Education Category F (Quantitative Reasoning)

From clay tablets in ancient Mesopotamia to what we can view on our cell phones, maps have helped us understand our world through millennia. In the late 19th century, mapmaking experienced a renaissance when surveyors used new binocular lenses with trigonometry to achieve a new level of accuracy in measuring and presenting data about the Earth’s surface.

Maps continue to be valued as beautiful pieces of art, but they also are potent repositories of data about our world. They can engage you in the analysis and manipulation of information related to quantifiable objects, symbolic elements and logic to help navigate the complexity and sophistication of the modern world.

In this course, we explore how maps compile, build and share knowledge of our environment. Topics include:

  • geodetic principles (the way location is measured on the Earth’s surface);
  • how information is captured and represented on maps;
  • the role of scale and map projections; and
  • how various hierarchies and classifications can be combined and used with empirical analysis to add meaning to maps.
In SSCI 135, I was first introduced to the basics of digital mapping which encouraged me to add my Human Security and Geospatial Intelligence minor. I really enjoyed how we used online mapping software to answer interesting questions, such as where the best location to site a new park would be by taking into account Census data. I hope to apply my knowledge of spatial sciences for a future career in law enforcement.
~ Nate Goldstein, B.A. Political Science; Minor is Human Security and Geospatial Intelligence '22

Through our class discussions and assignments, we delve into how numbers are used to construct maps of the world around us, with the goal of increasing your capacity to evaluate chains of formal reasoning (the use of formal logic and mathematics), abstract representation (the use of symbolic and diagrammatic representations), and empirical analysis (the use of statistical inference).

Read a recent syllabus.