by Duncan Yoon
Africa, China, and Globalization was a First Year Interdisciplinary Seminar taught by Professor Duncan Yoon in the Fall of 2017. Over the course of the semester students combined traditional humanities and social science curriculum with the software platform, Story Maps—an ArcGIS (Geographic Information Systems) presentation software that harnesses the power of digital mapping and other multimedia visualizations. In conjunction with Data Services at Bobst, and the expertise of Himanshu Mistry and Michelle Thompson, students took workshops that trained them in the technical skill set necessary to run Story Maps. These workshops also introduced students to the larger world of digital mapping and “spatial reasoning.”
“These projects are not only visually stimulating, they are academically rigorous in the spirit of Gallatin’s commitment to interdisciplinarity.”
In the seminar, students chose an African country and topic linked to Chinese involvement upon which to focus. They compiled an annotated bibliography that included both traditional scholarly sources as well as multimedia. The semester’s research culminated in a digital project. Instead of a classic term paper, students created a Story Map of 2500 words and at least 15 multimedia visualizations. These projects are not only visually stimulating, they are academically rigorous in the spirit of Gallatin’s commitment to interdisciplinarity. Students now have an example of both a technical skill and their critical thought, which they can store in their E-Portfolio for future career aspirations.