Place Studies Summer Projects: SRVCdata.org

Sam Jacobson and Yash Bhutwala created SRVCdata.org as a resource for social organizations to measure how well their programs are addressing issues in the central Susquehanna Valley. Their website includes data resources such as reports dealing with health, security, demographics, economic growth, and much more. The website also provides a trendalyzer, a visualization software that creates an animation of a plot of two different variables and then tracks them over time. Individuals can also use the website to learn more about the five counties of the Central Susquehanna Valley through the qualitative data and reports they provide.

The website allows sufficiency when trying to locate primary data relating to these counties. For although the primary data they have collected exists throughout the web, it takes much time and effort to uncover. The website pulls all this information together to make it easier for people to find, and use. Sam and Yash believe that organizations will be able to benefit from the use of this website, and it will encourage them in addressing important issues and facilitating change in these counties.

Sam and Yash are still working on further perfecting the website, and organizing the data for more sufficient and accessible usage. They believe that the website will be a useful tool to provide easy navigation and easy understanding of important information regarding the five counties in the Central Susquehanna Valley, and thereby promote change and improvement.

Place Studies Summer Projects: Genuine Progress Indicator

This summer, Zach Moon worked on the creation of a Genuine Progress Index for Pennsylvania, the first of it’s kind.

A Genuine Progress Index, or GPI for short, is a metric used to measure the health of a nations economy. While it is similar to the more commonly known GDP (Growth Domestic Product), the GDI takes into account environmental and social factors that GDP does not include. It allows us to know whether the environmental impact of the production of goods and services hurts or helps the economy.

The GDI measures sustainability over time, and it doesn’t just add in finished products but also subtracts costs that affect sustainability over time. Such as the costs of commuting, and the cost of air pollution.

With the creation of the GPI for Pennsylvania, Zach says we must now ask ourselves, “Can we scale our index down to measure regional and local sustainability in a quantitative way?”

Place Studies Summer Projects: Geographic Information Systems

This summer, Alexa Gorski and Henry Stann completed archival research to create, for the first time, a map of Native American locations within a five mile corridor of Susquehanna River’s West Branch. Alexa and Henry found the locations of the sites, and created the GIS map to make finding the sites on a map more accessible. The map will also provide background about each of the sites. It is designed so that when one clicks on a specific location, there will be a description on the region that the viewer can read to get more information.

The project was on behalf of the Chesapeake Bay Conservancy, who wanted to update the John Smith National Historical Trail with information on the history of the Susquehanna River. There had not been previous research done on the West Branch of the Susquehanna, therefore not much was known on the history of the region. The research unveiled the history of the Native Americans, conflicts and relationships between groups of people and people and the environment. Alexa and Henry uncovered Moravian diaries, old county histories, and the works of JF Meginness to aid them in their research.

Alexa and Henry hope to continue working on the interactive map and add on more locations. They are also working on the development of a self tour app that will allow people to learn more about a site when they are at that location.

View the research poster completed by Alexa and Henry here: Poster

What is place?

During the fall semester of 2013, the Place Studies Initiative of the Bucknell University Environmental Center hosted “Understanding Place,” a series of discussions about various concepts used to define and comprehend “place.”

The talks, which were free and open to the public, were delivered by students, faculty, and community members. During the fall of 2013, the following presentations were given:
“Identity” with geography professor Adrian Mulligan

“Rarity” with biology professor Chris Martine

“Headwaters” with English professor Alf Siewers

“Natural” with geography professor Duane Griffin

“Boundary” with international relations professor Jason Cons

“Local” with professor of rural sociology, Clare Hinrichs

Supported by the Bucknell University Environmental Center, the Place Studies Initiative undertakes and supports research within the social sciences and environmental humanities that examines the nature and role of place in human experience. The purpose of the Place Studies Initiative is to facilitate and encourage research on the human dimensions of environmental issues.