• Columbia University | Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation | Spring 2018

  • Fridays 11am - 1pm | Ware Lounge, Avery Hall

  • Course Faculty: Grga Basic (gb2559) & Michael Krisch (mrk2152)

  • Download Syllabus

  • Class Blog

Research Sites

  • Garbage and Marine Transfer Stations

  • Penn Station

  • Water Tunnel No. 3

  • New York City Flood Map

  • Rikers Island

Site Editors

  • Tali Woodward, Director of the MA Program, Columbia Journalism School

  • Samir Patel, Deputy Editor at Atlas Obscura

  • Marguerite Holloway, Professor and Director of Science and Environmental Journalism at the Journalism School

  • Michael Krisch, Deputy Director & Associate Research Scholar, Brown Institute for Media Innovation

  • Nausicaa Renner, Digital Editor at Columbia Journalism Review, Senior editor at n+1


This course will have three major types of assignments:

  • Weekly Reflections (20%)
  • Reporting & Mapping Tasks (25%)
  • Final Narrative (35%)
Grading will be defined by the assignments above, as well as classroom attendance and participation (20%).

Course Outline

Week 1 - Course Introduction, Narrative Cartography Introduction & Site Discussion
Week 2 - Reporting on a New Topic & Interview
Week 3 - Intro to Public Data / FOIA/FOIL
Week 4 - Ways of Knowing Cities (Conference)
Week 5 - Introduction to Spatial Statistics/Data (Guest Lecture from Prof. Mark Hansen)
Week 6 - Intro to Cartographic Narratives
Week 7 - Pitch to Editors
Week 8 - Mapping Techniques I
Week 9 - Mapping Techniques II
Week 10 - Mapping Techniques III
Week 11 - Working Group
Week 12 - Working Group
Week 13 - Final Presentations

Weekly Reflections

Each week, students will submit reading responses and/or updates on their site investigations, including but not limited to interviews conducted, datasets found, and general research. Response prompts will be assigned at the end of each class, and responses must be posted by midnight on the Thursday preceding class to

Final Output

The final output for the course will come in the form of a presentation that successfully highlights an identified problem of the site, posits evidence through novel implementations of data, and provides a comprehensive narrative through geospatial representations. In addition, the research conducted will surface recommendations for site intervention.

Resources and Materials

Course files, tutorials and presentations will be located on this website. In addition, reflections will be hosted at

The optional readings for the class will be available via journalistic organizations, Columbia Libraries, and other content providers. Links will be hosted on this site under the Resources tab. Resoures specific to journalistic investigation can be found at Journalism Resources.