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W&M Sharpe Community Mapping Project

It's a class and it's a project.

The W&M Sharpe Community Mapping Project is a team-based, teaching and research initiative to train students to conduct participatory action research.  Students enroll in a COLL200 course that uses GIS mapping technologies and interdisciplinary, mixed methodologies toward conducting community-based research.  The Sharpe Mapping Project aims to strategically sustain engagement with local and regional residents and leaders in forming content, design, and direction in the research process for understanding social issues.chai_closeup_jcc_map.jpg

Engaging Communities, Diversifying Human Knowledge

Community-driven goals and specific lines of inquiry will vary and evolve over time.  Our team anticipates four (4) key areas for study, reflection, and analysis, determined purposefully within contexts of community collaboration:  (1) Health, (2) Education, (3) Economic Development, and (4) Climate (conceptualized in terms of varied dimensions, including household setting).  (See the James City County Workforce Housing Task Force website for examples of how one local agency already identified some of these areas as meaningful in the region and featured local residents and officials’ discussions about them in podcasts.)

The Mapping Project expects to observe patterns for the emergence of regional social issues.  Our researchers aim to engage with residents in the region to gain deeper understanding about those issues--and about one another--in addressing them.  We also expect to learn continually from this mixed-methodological approach that some areas of thought and action in the region will converge, while others may yield divergent strategies for continued learning or action.   


The Mapping Project Team consists of: 

  • co-investigators who lead and coordinate the team (Dr. Monica D. Griffin, Director of the Sharpe Program, and Dr. Shannon White, Interim Director and GIS Certificate Coordinator, Center for Geospatial Analysis, W&M);
  • collaborator researchers who co-design strategies for outreach and participatory action research in specified regions (Dr. Jonathan Arries, Associate Professor Emeritus, WM; Beth Tremblay, MSN, Nurse Educator, ODU; Dr. Matthew Gerike, Geospatial Program Manager, VGIN, ISP, VITA);
  • affiliate faculty who teach courses that contribute to the Mapping Project’s goals and adhere to the ethical intent and practice with and within communities (in-progress);
  • students (enrolled in INTR295, affiliated course, or employed as teaching and research assistants); community residents, organizational leaders, and agency officials who participate to gather data, facilitate meetings, contribute analyses.