Interactive Mapping for Transparent Redistricting
van de Gevel, Saskia
The Grosvenor Center for Geographic Education
GeoCivics contributes to the civic education of students and community members by making available knowledge and skills about civil society and government systems. Taking an early active role in the governing process suggests that students will be more likely to continue their participation in community discussions, which is key to a successful democratic republic (Joris and Agirdag, 2019). In support of NCRGE's Transformative Research Grant, a research group created interdisciplinary approaches to engage the public in redistricting through hands-on and online mapping tools. This project, piloted in over ten states, determined that while students and teachers have access to a variety of instructional materials about U.S. Congressional apportionment and redistricting (CivXNow Coalition, 2019), using interactive giant maps, examining 2010 census data and redistricting criteria, and drawing online congressional district maps using county boundaries successfully connects participants to the situation in their states. "Seeing the problem as something unsatisfactory is meant to affect and challenge learners, motivating them to see solutions" (Weiss, 2017, 207). GeoCivics addresses the third research question in the Road Map (2013, 44), "What supports or promotes the development of geographic knowledge, skills, and practices?" Funding from the National Center for Research in Geographic Education (NCRGE) supported research group meetings, funded stipends for a research fellow and an online geospatial technology educational expert, provided travel resources to test the materials in multiple locations, and identified effective ways to distribute this instructional sequence to improve understanding of the role geography plays in the U.S. election process. Lesson plans, discussion guides, and assessments are hosted on the University of Colorado Colorado Springs website. In collaboration with political geographers, sessions about redistricting were organized for the American Association of Geographers (AAG) meeting in Washington DC in April of 2019. Following analysis of content delivery and resource use, the research group engaged with the geography and civics education communities to promote development of geographic techniques by making these materials available to educators and community members, both in the United States and across the globe, in anticipation of the 2020 Census and subsequent redistricting processes.
geography, geospatial technology, GIS, redistricting, gerrymandering, civics, government
Theobald, R., Palmer, A., & van de Gevel, S. (2019). Interactive mapping for transparent redistricting. Research in Geographic Education, 21(2), pp. 11-38.