GIS and Sustainability Project Exchange

Want to make a difference? Help out by taking on a project, or suggest one.
If you want to do a thesis project or independent study that makes a difference, then start by finding out what is needed on campus.  It’s always nice to have an eager audience interested in your work, and your products are better when that audience holds you accountable for doing it well.  Here are a few questions and ideas as examples of projects that individuals or classes could take on.  Read the complete list on Google Docs, to which you may add questions in the comments or contribute your own ideas.  

This list is just a start. Any idea may be useful. Any idea can have a theoretical angle that makes it suitable for a thesis topic. Ideas can also be found in other locations, such as Princeton’s sustainability ideas list.

You can add to this list (add your name if you want to help students develop it). Or you can peruse the list for projects that need doing. Questions? see Alistair Hall or Mary Ann Cunningham.

  • The EMMA network is currently is made up of 9 sites in the Hudson Valley, which are in need of site characterizations.  The sites are meant to create a north/south and urban/rural gradient. In particular help is needed to map the land cover, soils, streams, wetlands, waterbodies, and fragmentation. This information would be incredibly valuable as EMMA undergoes strategic planning and develops future directions. Any students that might be interested in working on this project should contact Keri Vancamp
  • What is the magnitude of ecosystem services of tree cover on the Vassar Campus? Use iTree programs to calculate them.
  • Mapping the UN’s Map Human Development Index (HDI) – This is a very extensive GIS data set based on the UN’s Human Development Report tabular data by country, and there are many topics that could be mapped to display newer HDI and related data. Some background on the dataset and the HDI report is available here. This data set is available on the lab computers.
  • Map the Greater Ecological Preserve and create a visitor’s natural history/birding/plant walk map.
  • Update and develop campus planting maps and data – Point locations of all campus plantings have been mapped and associated with maintenance scheduling information. The web map used to display this information could be further developed to include maintenance activity (accessed via web app and/or mobile app). The polygon areas of the plantings need to be mapped.
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