Miller Lecture: From Time Geography to Geospatial Narratives

Friday, December 2, 2011 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm
112 Walker Building


May Yuan (Ph.D. '94), the Brandt Professor and Edith Kinney Gaylord Presidential Professor, Geoinformatics Program Director, Center for Spatial Analysis  at the University of Oklahoma, will give the 2011 Miller Lecture, "From Time Geography to Geospatial Narratives: GIS as a Narrative Generation Platform"


The research examines the idea of geospatial narratives and discusses the development of a GIS framework to support geospatial narrative generation from space-time data. Linguists, educators, and ethnographers have long recognized the importance of narratives in human communication, learning, and sense making.

A narrative is a representation of a history, biography, or process in which a sequence of events has been constructed into a coherent story. As one of the most effective forms of knowledge structures, narratives are arguably a primary means we use to reason and record understanding about the world by ordering and assimilating events to find meanings and implications. By the same token, a geospatial narrative is a representation of a geospatial process with sequences of events in a meaningful context.

The geospatial process can be environmental, human, or workflow-based, and GIS support for geospatial narratives rests on developing computational narratives within a space-time database. Since 1960s, Time Geography has provided a robust framework to examine space-time constraints on human activities and interactions.  Geospatial narratives, taking Time Geography further, emphasize the need to allow narrative objects of any types to be automatically recognized and created from space-time databases and can then be used to query and analyze how storylines may have departure, correlate or intersect in space and time.

This presentation will introduce the arguments for Geospatial Narratives, intellectual connections to Time Geography, and examples of geospatial narrative generation, and conclude with a vision of a Narrative GIS that supports collaborative geospatial storytelling.


 In addition to the lecture during Coffee Hour, Dr. Yuan will be a guest of the Department of Geography for two days, meeting with graduate students and others.


About the Miller Lecture

The department's Miller Lecture Series is designed to bring eminent geographers to Penn State and is a gift to the Department of Geography from the late E. Willard Miller. Miller was a Professor of Geography, department head, and associate dean emeritus in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Past Miller Lecture presenters include Konrad Steffen, Barry Smit, Vicky Lawson, Lynn Staeheli, John Pickles, Danny Dorling, Cort Wilmott, Billie Lee Turner, Larry Brown, Steven Running, Arthur Getis, Paul Longley, and Paul Robbins.