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Mapping Locally, Globally: Reflections on YouthMappers and Engaged Learning in Geography

Type: Panel
Sponsor Groups: Geography Education Specialty Group, Undergraduate Student Affinity Group, Hazards, Risks, and Disasters Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/7/2020
Start / End Time: 5:35 PM / 6:50 PM (MDT)
Room: Virtual Track 1
Organizers: Adele Birkenes
Chairs: Adele Birkenes


This panel brings together the co-founders of YouthMappers and student leaders and faculty advisors of U.S. and Canadian YouthMappers chapters to reflect on successes and challenges of the program’s first five years. Although most of the discussion topics are specific to YouthMappers, we welcome the participation of all AAG attendees with a background or interest in participatory and/or remote mapping as a tool for international development.

Founded in partnership with Texas Tech University, The George Washington University, West Virginia University, and Arizona State University with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) GeoCenter, YouthMappers is a consortium of student-led mapping chapters at 175 universities in 45 countries. YouthMappers chapters organize and implement mapping activities that respond to development and humanitarian aid needs around the globe, creating and using spatial data and information that is made publicly available through open platforms such as OpenStreetMap. In this session, we seek to explore ways that these (and similar) efforts do or do not achieve goals in inclusive mapping, development and humanitarian aid, and geographic education.

Panelists are asked to briefly describe their experiences with YouthMappers, and then we will open up the discussion and invite attendees to join us in exploring some of the following (or related) questions:
1. How does YouthMappers provide a template for participatory and inclusive engaged learning in geography?
2. With the conclusions of Solís and DeLucia (2019) in mind, how can humanitarian mapping (on the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team platform) enhance the geographic education that university students receive?
3. What is YouthMappers’ unique contribution to the movements of Participatory Geographic Information Systems (PGIS) and Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI)? (see Solís et al. 2018)
4. How can we facilitate greater community and collaboration among YouthMappers chapters, and among U.S. and Canadian chapters more specifically?
5. How might we engage with questions of privilege, power dynamics, and positionality when developing and implementing locally-based participatory mapping projects?
6. How does YouthMappers address the persistent underrepresentation of women and other minority groups in cartography and GIS? How can YouthMappers strengthen these efforts?

Suggested reading:
1. Hite, Rebecca, Patricia Solís, Lindsay Wargo, and Thomas Barclay Larsen. 2018. “Exploring Affective Dimensions of Authentic Geographic Education Using a Qualitative Document Analysis of Students’ Youthmappers Blogs.” Education Sciences 8 (4).
2. Solís, Patricia, and Patricia R. DeLucia. 2019. “Exploring the Impact of Contextual Information on Student Performance and Interest in Open Humanitarian Mapping.” Professional Geographer 71 (3): 523–35.
3. Solís, Patricia, Brent McCusker, Nwasinachi Menkiti, Nuala Cowan, and Chad Blevins. 2018. “Engaging Global Youth in Participatory Spatial Data Creation for the UN Sustainable Development Goals: The Case of Open Mapping for Malaria Prevention.” Applied Geography 98 (September): 143–55.

Note: This session is also sponsored by the Graduate Student Affinity Group.


Type Details Minutes
Panelist Patricia Solís Arizona State University 10
Panelist Mary Ann Cunningham Vassar College 10
Panelist Shannon Curley SUNY - Geneseo 10
Panelist Marynia Kolak University of Chicago 10
Panelist Meagan Snow American University 10

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