In 2010 the University of Redlands was awarded a 3-year grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation to support our LENS activities. This funding creates new opportunities for faculty and undergraduate students in multiple disciplines within the College of Arts and Sciences to use maps, mapping, and spatial perspectives in their teaching, learning, and research.

Faculty Fellowship Program

Each year LENS Fellows will be selected to participate in our Summer Institute and focus on developing new curricular materials related to maps, mapping, and spatial perspectives. Fellows will share their developments with their students and the wider University Community. Each Fellow is eligible to receive up to $5500 in compensation for participation in our program. Please click here for information on applying for a 2012 Fellowship.

FAQ for LENS Fellowship

What does "Learning Spatially" mean?
The LENS initiative promotes spatial thinking as a component of a higher education curriculum. Spatial thinking is the ability to interpret and visualize things like location, distance, direction, movement, relationships, and change over space. People are using spatial thinking when they study how a disease spreads, or when they characterize different cities or regions, or when they imagine how geography influences military decisions, or when they design a reconstruction plan following a natural disaster, or envision how actors will fit together on a stage or musicians within an orchestra pit. Spatial thinking allows us to understand “why it is like this, here” whether we are talking about a pattern of stars in a distant galaxy, a pattern of crimes in a neighborhood, or a pattern of growth in a petri dish. We believe it’s an important part of learning overall, and one that deserves more attention. The W. M. Keck Foundation agreed!
Can you elaborate a little on what you mean by "maps, mapping, and spatial perspectives"?

Maps are a graphical representation of information. They are useful tools that support learning, whether they represent geographic space (such as a map showing the geologic fault lines that run through Southern California or Haiti) or intellectual space (such as a concept map that helps to illustrate the connections within a complex story).

The act of mapping itself is instructional. When students read a historic text and plot out the sequence of events on a map, they can see how the pieces of the story fit together. Sketching a flow chart or building a physical model also creates understanding about how ideas or objects work together, how they’re connected and what might happens if something changes.

When we take a spatial perspective, we use our inherent capacity to learn through information that’s arranged spatially. Those arrangements help us understand what we’re seeing and how things are related to one another. We usually use representations of that information, including maps, globes, models, graphs, charts, etc. This information is also visual, and as we teach, we can help students develop graphicacy skills and become critical viewers of the information that confronts them each day.

What types of "mapping related curriculum" do I have to create?
Each Fellow will decide what will work best for them, but their materials should be designed to allow students to experience how maps, mapping, or spatial perspectives inform the course content. An outcome could be an entirely new course or a revised existing one. It could be a series of labs or a new module. It could involve historic maps, hand drawn maps, or online maps. It could use a virtual globe or other 3-dimensional model. It could use spatial data that you already have, that you or your students collect, or that you purchase. Ideally the students eventually would get to do hands-on, active work with whatever was organized or created.
How does GIS fit in to all of this? Will all the Fellows be using GIS?

Geographic information systems (GIS) is a powerful and versatile suite of tools that lets us organize, manage, analyze, display and communicate with spatial information. GIS can be used as software that is installed on your computer or accessed over a web browser, in 2-dimensions like a traditional map or 3-dimensions over a virtual globe (like Google Earth). GIS is used frequently on campus, in teaching, research, and operations. Its use spans many scales, from a full graduate degree (the MS GIS program) to single, stand-alone GIS-based modules or labs in many different courses.

Though there is no particular mandate that GIS must be used by the LENS Fellows, there are a wide range of opportunities and ways to incorporate GIS, as best suits each particular Fellow’s needs. If it’s appropriate, we will help identify the aspects of GIS that may be most helpful for each Fellow to learn and will make training opportunities available.

What kind of experience do I need to apply for the Fellowship? Do I have to have used maps or GIS in order to apply?

You do not have to have experience with maps, mapping or spatial tools; if you do, that will of course give you a “leg up” in starting your proposed project, but it is not required. As long as you are open to spatial thinking approaches, we can help you build a foundation for your Fellowship (for example, by attending the Short Spring Spatial Workshop or some of the LENS mini-mapping sessions).

It is more important to have clear goals and objectives for what you want to do with your Fellowship, and how you imagine achieving these goals, than to have prior experience with maps or spatial tools.

Will the Redlands Institute be part of the Fellowship?
As part of the Fellowship, we will have some access to the programmers and developers at the Redlands Institute (RI) to help us create or customize GIS applications. As an example for what kind of customization can be built, RI Developer Nate Strout recently created our version of a “quad viewer” – so that users can visualize up to four different “georeferenced” images or maps concurrently. Since these images are all of the same location and extent, when you zoom into one of the frames it will zoom into the same places in the other windows. We’ve used this interface to compare historical maps made of the same place but from different times, but the windows could also hold many other types of spatial information.

How is the "theme" of the year decided?

In order to begin the 2010 Fellowship year as quickly as possible, its theme (Mapping People) was chosen right away because it is consistent with a broad range of faculty interests and coincides with the Census Bureau’s (last) decennial census.

For the 2011 and 2012 Fellowship years, faculty will be asked to propose a theme that describes their particular interests when they submit their proposals. The selection committee will thus decide on a theme as they evaluate the proposals that complement each other.

A group of multi-disciplinary faculty may submit their proposals together, if they intend to work under a common theme. As a broad example, a mathematician, a physicist, and an artist could apply together to work in parallel under the theme of “Learning Through 3-Dimensional Representations.” Or, a political scientist, a biologist, and a sociologist might team up to examine issues around “Borders and Boundaries.”

In addition, starting in 2011 two faculty may submit a joint proposal to work on one project or class together, and share a single fellowship position and stipend. For example, two faculty co-teaching a course on Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” might decide to share a fellowship in order to develop a curriculum that includes spatial approaches or tools, such as an interactive map showing the pilgrimage route as described through key narrative passages or images.

In your proposal, be sure to describe your proposed theme for the year, and note whether you are applying as: (a) and individual faculty; (b) a group of multi-disciplinary faculty; or (c) two faculty sharing a fellowship.

How is the Summer Institute connected to the Fellowship experience?

The Summer Institute is central and very important. During that time, the Fellows will have the chance to explore and develop their ideas within a space that has both expert intellectual and technical help. You will have a chance to ask many new questions, gain many new ideas from experts and fellow peers, and learn some new technologies and methodologies. It is essential that the Fellows are able to participate in the full 5-day Institute and be willing to give their full attention to the experience.

There will be time to begin or develop the curricular component, but it will almost certainly take more time beyond this week-long event. You are not expected to have completed your curricular development work by the end of the Institute.

Can I be on sabbatical and be a Fellow at the same time?
Yes, but it needs to be part of your sabbatical proposal submitted to the FRC.
Why does this operate on a calendar year instead of an academic year?
The award from the W. M. Keck Foundation is for a three-year period, 2010 – 2012. In order to both maximize and equalize the amount of time available to each Fellow, we chose to run the Fellowships on a calendar year. The Summer Institute will form the backbone of the year.
How will my application be evaluated?

LENS Fellowship applications will be evaluated on three criteria:

  • 1) The intellectual merit of the proposed mapping ideas (innovation, creativity, connections to new or existing curricula, connections to the year’s theme), (40 points).
  • 2) The broader impacts of the proposed ideas (breadth, depth, or both; the ways in which students may eventually participate and/or benefit; the degree to which participating as a LENS Fellow may shape a faculty member’s work in their discipline/their department/the Institution, etc.), (40 points).
  • 3) The likelihood of success (how feasible are any new technologies to be built or customized; how likely are data to be acquired and ready in a timely manner; how committed is the person to learning new technologies or incorporating new approaches into their pedagogy), (20 points).
Who will make the decisions?
In 2011, the LENS Fellows selection committee consists of the following people: the Director of Spatial Curriculum & Research (Diana Sinton), the GIS and Mapping Support Consultant in ITS (David Smith), the Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences (Barbara Morris), and the current Chairs of the College of Arts & Sciences’ Assembly (Kathie Jenni and Sandy Koonce.) 2010 Fellows (Wes Bernardini, Priya Jha, and Kathy Ogren) may provide input as well.
Is a Fellow free to use the grant money in whatever way he/she wants?

The intention of the $5,500 grant money is to support a Fellow’s work with maps and mapping. We have designed the program to be as flexible as possible, to accommodate the wide range of faculty situations and needs. The funds could cover one course release (to cover the salary of an adjunct instructor), and any remaining funds could be provided as supplemental pay. Funds could also be reimbursed for project-related expenses (data, materials and supplies, travel, child care, etc.). Or, the entire grant can be dispersed as supplemental pay. In that situation, $500 of the grant goes towards benefits and the balance will arrive as part of your regular (taxed) paycheck.

Please be explicit in your Fellowship proposal about how you plan to use the stipend. If you choose to request a course release, the funds to cover the release will be made available to your department for the requested semester. If you choose to have all or part of the stipend disbursed as supplemental pay, these funds will be paid in two installments: half at the time of the Institute, and half at the end of the Fellowship year upon completion of your project. If you have further questions about the grant money, please contact the University’s grants administrator, Bob Baird (x-8371 or

Do I have to take a course release?
No, the course release is completely optional. Some people may be unable to devote extensive summer time to curriculum development and the extra time during a semester may be an option for them, but we realize that it would not be possible for all. It is only one of several possible options.
If I take a course release, do I have to take it during my Fellowship year?
Yes. That would allow you to have the curriculum development time while LENS staff are able to work with you directly.
What happens if my Chair or Department is not supportive of my participation?
Of course we hope that this would not happen, but if the situation were to arise, Dean Morris would work with the parties involved to find a resolution.
How does the student intern program work?
Each year, up to three students will be selected as interns to learn about maps, mapping and spatial perspectives. They will be paid $3000 under the Keck grant. They will participate in the Institute and will work with one of the Fellows. This work can be done during the summer or during the academic year. The Fellows can identify a student with whom they would like to work, or students who are already studying mapping on campus could be selected as well.
Are there ways to participate in all of this without becoming a Fellow?
Sure. As one option, with this new funding, in each year we will have a 3-day Spring Spatial Skills Workshop (S3W) during which time faculty will explore a wide range of mapping applications and get a sense of how geospatial tools can support teaching and learning. All CAS faculty will be invited to apply to participate in this workshop. This experience might inspire you to apply to be a Fellow in the following year. Each participant will receive a $300 stipend to attend, and there is no obligation to create any curricular component following the event (but we hope you would want to!). The 2011 spatial skills workshop will be held April 28-29 (during the week between the spring semester and May term). Other ways to participate include mini-mapping workshops for faculty and students offered throughout the year, and guest lectures and colloquia through LENS and MS GIS programs.
2010 and 2011 LENS Summer Institutes

Visit the 2011 Summer Institute website and the 2010 Summer Institute website.

Short Spring Spatial Workshop

As part of building our spatially-infused learning community, we will be offering a 3-day workshop to develop faculty awareness and early skills around maps and mapping. Our objective is to have faculty become more confident and competent at imagining and implementing the ways that spatial perspectives could be integrated into their teaching and/or research.

This event will take place during the week between Spring Term and May Term (April 25-29, 2011).

We can support up to 10 individual faculty at this event, and each person will receive $300 in supplemental pay for participating. Attendance at all three days is obligatory. Any person who is a tenured, tenure-track, or full-time contract instructor and is part of an undergraduate academic program in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Redlands is eligible to attend.

To attend, please send an email to Diana Sinton ( and David Smith ( in which you write a short (< 300 word) note about what, if any, spatial curricular ideas you have or want to have. For example, you could share an idea about a geographical question that you have always wanted to explore with students, or comment on your current or future plans for working with a spatial data set, or describe any ways in which you have students visualize spatial arrangements of information in your classes.

Participation is on a first come – first served basis. Responses will inform workshop content but will not be used for participation decisions. With the funding from the W. M. Keck Foundation, we will have a S3W workshop in 2012 as well. We will also continue to have mini-mapping workshops scheduled during the regular academic year.