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Geospatial Perspective: Toward a Visual Political Literacy Project in Education, Health, and Human Services


Review of Research in Education Volume 36, Number 1, ISSN 0091-732X


In this chapter, "geospatial" refers to geographic space that includes location, distance, and the relative position of things on the earth's surface. Geospatial perspective calls for the addition of a geographic lens that focuses on place and space as important contextual variables. A geospatial view increases one's understanding of education, health, and other social variables by framing research in the context of neighborhoods, communities, and regions. The most widely used method for developing geospatial perspective is through the use of a geographic information system (GIS). William Julius Wilson (1998) reasoned that geographic factors such as neighborhood and community had largely been ignored in the prominent paradigm of individual-level analysis of narrowly defined educational outcomes. Wilson posited that the individualistic framework is not typically conceived in a fashion that accounts for the influence of relational, organizational, and collective actions that influence the social formation of inequality. Wilson's position suggests the need for a visual political literacy project--one that captures how schooling inequality and outcomes are greatly shaped by the ecological context and the geography of opportunity. In this article, the authors use the term "visual political literacy project" to describe a research approach that builds on the psychological and political potential of geospatial methodology, as applied to problem spaces in education, health, and human development--where the central aim is to link the visual products to discussions of the geography of opportunity. The purpose of this review is twofold. The first purpose of this chapter is to describe how GIS methods have evolved and are used to create spatial perspective and understanding. The authors describe important features of the technology, while highlighting the potential of the tool for scholarship in education, health, developmental science, and human services. The second purpose of the chapter is to provide a selected review of research where GIS methodology has been integral to bringing new insights to questions and problems in education and health. (Contains 3 figures and 2 notes.)


Hogrebe, M.C. & Tate, W.F. (2012). Geospatial Perspective: Toward a Visual Political Literacy Project in Education, Health, and Human Services. Review of Research in Education, 36(1), 67-94. Retrieved November 29, 2021 from .

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