Geography Meets Humanities

Geography meets Humanitites: A Focus on Social Justice


The American Association of Geographers (AAG) has always been supportive of transdisciplinary research. In 2009, the AAG held a Symposium on Geography and Humanities and, in 2015, a new journal – GeoHumanities – was launched providing a new venue for interdisciplinary scholarship. The exposition of geography as a discipline with key concepts such as space, place, landscape, mapping, geographic information systems (GIS), and others, have captured the popular imagination and have boosted research in academia. The Geography Program at California State University, Stanislaus (Stanislaus State) is committed to contributing to the dissemination of transdisciplinary work, specifically the relationship between the humanities and geography.  It is for that reason the geography program worked on the event Geography meets Humanities during the GIS Day.

This event, with support from California Humanities, brought a series of speakers during the 2019 Geography Awareness Week, specifically during the GIS Day, who shared their work on how geography meets the humanities, having social justice as a central theme. Speakers talked about a wide range of topics including film, fair trade, the role of big data and GIS in activism and social justice in disadvantaged communities, and health and inequalities among others. The public had the opportunity to learn about historical development of social, economic, and political disparities of the presented cases and ask questions and reflect on the importance of the humanities and geography.

This event exposed the public to the value of transdisciplinary work — in this case, the humanities and geography — as well as its application not just in academia but also in everyday life. People had the opportunity to experience shared history of civic participation. This event invited the audience to think about the importance of the humanities, geography, and social justice in the everyday life.

The first activity in the morning was a GIS workshop introducing ArcGIS Pro and a demo of 3D modeling. Michael Contreras from ESRI led this workshop and demonstration that inspired several users to get to know more about ArcGIS Pro. Michael Contreras is a geographer and Product Engineer on ESRI’s 3D Analysis.

After the workshop, CASA, the Center for Applied Spatial Analysis, had its open house. CASA offers geospatial consulting services to the campus and regional community. In this capacity, it also serves as a conduit for outreach to our larger community. CASA coordinates internships, facilitates grant development, and conducts projects in partnership with campus and community members. These projects improve student learning by providing applied experiential learning and professional development opportunities. 

The program brought 8 speakers: Michelle Aguilar a documentary filmmaker, committed to social equality and fair representation of marginalized populations, Gene Barrera a GIS Manager for the County of Merced and lecturer at Stanislaus State, Dr. Kevin Butler a Product Engineer on ESRI’s Spatial Statistics, Michael Contreras a geographer and Lead Product Engineer on ESRI’s 3D Analysis, Sophia Garcia a GIS Analyst for the Dolores Huerta Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the pursuit of social justice in disadvantaged communities, Vanessa Lopez-Asaah a therapist that provides home-based services to mothers who are pregnant or parenting babies less than 2 year of age, Victoria Martinez a Data and System Analyst at Colonized Media, Inc and geography Alumna of Stanislaus State, and Analisa Zamora a health educator that help to empower communities for health equity. The Project Director for this event was Dr. José Díaz-Garayúa and the Humanities Experts were Dr. Shannon Stevens (Communications) and Dr. Brenda Ortiz Loyola (Spanish).

This website gathers all the presentations (accessible with both subtitles in English and Spanish) and interviews (also with both English and Spanish subtitles) for the general public.

This program was made possible with the support from: