Dr. Ma and Sarah Steffens Create Laker Effect Map
Posted on March 18, 2019 on GVNow
A new interactive tool will show the impact of community engagement by Grand Valley students, faculty and staff members.
The Laker Effect Map visually displays the locations of hundreds of organizations and businesses where faculty and staff maintain relationships or partnerships. Many of these locations regularly host student interns, serve as destinations for student volunteers, serve as locations for faculty research initiatives or offer opportunities for community-based learning projects within classes.
Currently more than 550 locations are highlighted on the heat map.
Travus Burton, director for Civic Learning and Community Engagement, said the map also functions as a database to provide an efficient way for faculty and staff members to connect with the Grand Valley "keeper of the partnership."
He explained when faculty or staff members use their Grand Valley login to access the interactive database, they can view names and locations of organizations and contact information for the GVSU person who maintains the relationship. The public will not be able to access that information, only view the generalized heat map.
"The map has two purposes, it showcases that Grand Valley is highly engaged and connected with community partners, and it is an internal tool for faculty and staff to make connections to benefit students or themselves," Burton said. "If I want to arrange an internship at a business, I can look up who at Grand Valley has already established that partnership and learn more from them about their relationship."
The interactive maps were created using geographic information systems software called ArcGIS, which Kin Ma, assistant professor of geography and sustainable planning, helped set up for Burton's department. A student majoring in geography and sustainable planning is part of the mapping team.
Faculty and staff members who have current partnerships are encouraged to fill out an online form to help populate the map.
Burton said the concept is similar to LinkedIn. "Faculty and staff members are putting themselves on the map and connecting to each other," he said.
Burton and graduate assistant Katelynn Rendi will give a presentation on the Laker Effect Map at the Great Lakes Regional Student Success Conference in Detroit March 22. The campus community will have an opportunity to interact with the map and ask questions during the Civic Engagement Showcase, set for April 11 at the DeVos Center.