I’ve spoken with several professors, and even the chair of the IDCE department, about my research idea. It was not until my most recent meeting with Dr. Jie Tian, when I was asked ‘So, what is your research question..?’. Bam! I’ve been diving around this topic so much that I have completely avoided pinning down a real research question. Today I shall endeavor to do so. Some thoughts:
What are the structural differences between first tier and second tier cities on the east coast of the USA?
What are the differences and similarities among the major cities in the Bos-Wash megalopolis? What are the differences and similarities between the minor cities in this same area?
How does the proximity of the minor cities to the major cities vary? Specifically, what are the differences in access via public transportation?
Is Baltimore a major or minor city on the circuit? Obvious majors: Boston, NYC, Phila, and Wash DC.
After looking at structural similarities and differences, what social factors can be added? What kind of limitations exist when looking at social media for this type of analysis? What types of geographic links, sentiment analysis, and other qualitative notes can be gained from looking at social media?
This last question is a big addition to the previous ones. It will be next on the agenda, once the first questions are fleshed out a bit more and have some answers pending.
My approach will be a mixture of historical analysis and spatial analysis. I’ll be reading a lot about the manufacturing histories of these cities, and the historical movements of people. I will also be constructing a GIS model of this circuit, in order to take a critical look at the transportation systems that connect them. It’s time to get down to reading, as I have my formal proposal due on Monday. I’ll let you know how it goes.
I started graduate school this past Fall. I am working for a Master’s Degree in Science at Clark University in the GISDE program. Our department acronym stands for Geographic Information Systems for Development and Environment. We are housed in the IDCE department, or: International Development, Community & Environment. It’s quite the mix of people, all very driven, and all very friendly.
As for GISDE, we are two full years, and approximately 20 students in each year, amassing to just under 40 in the whole program. We study traditional GIS in the ArcSuite environment, and also branch out into some Free and Open Source Softwares, such as GeoDa, QGIS, and others. We undertake detailed study in both Vector and Raster analysis. Remote Sensing is also required curriculum.
So far I have been very pleased with the program. The professors here are extremely knowledgeable and dedicated to both their fields of study and their students. Clark is a research university, and there is a lot of opportunity and encouragement to take initiative in your personal topic of interest. Students are encouraged to read current research and to look for the gaps in methodologies or questions that are being explored. Importantly, we are also encouraged to take the next step and attempt to fill those gaps in. Many students will publish in academic journals during their time here. I hope to join that crowd.
One topic has recently bubbled up in my life that I believe touches on many of my interests. That topic is Innovation Theory. Specifically, locational and infrastructural variables that may be linked to different levels of innovation in different places.
My current understanding of “Innovation”:
Pushing the boundaries in both the arts and sciences. Political improvements. Policy implications. Technological advancements. Progress. Progressive. Big picture. Able to see the forest for the trees, and vice versa. Job creation. Network creation. Transportation. Cleanliness. Efficiency. Better systems.
My current questions on the topic of “Innovation Theory”:
Where is innovation happening & why? Does it happen naturally? Are there structural requirements for innovation to exist, or that affect its pace? Do certain physical, educational, cultural infrastructures encourage more or less innovation? If so, what are they and what weight do they carry? What are some key indicators of innovation that can be defined and used as a metric? Are there variables that should be specific to each individual place that is studied? How do we account for these in our formulas? What are the anecdotal variables that may need to be studied in person and through interviews? What are the variables that can be looked at through publicly available data? Privately available data? Not yet recorded data? If field work were required to collect data, what would that look like? Who would you talk to and about what?
I will be digging into some literature to start seeing what questions others have asked, and how they have answered them so far. More on all this soon.