Category Archives: W3/Tackling Socio-environmental Issues

Workshop 3 : Tackling Socio-environmental Issues: Stakes and Potentials of Using Geospatial Technologies  

Workshop 3 : Tackling Socio-environmental Issues:

Stakes and Potentials of Using Geospatial Technologies



  • Anne Casile

Archaeologist (IRD, PaLoc, Paris; IFP, Pondicherry)

  • Rémy Delage

Geographer (CNRS, Center for South Asian Studies, Paris)

Invited tutors:

  • Stéphanie Duvail

Geographer (IRD, PaLoc, Paris)

  • Vincent Herbreteau

Geographer (IRD, ESPACE-DEV, Paris)

  • Olivier Telle

Geographer (CNRS, Géographies-Cités, Paris)

  • Shanti Pappu 

Archaeologist ( SCHE, Chennai)

  • Kumar Akhilesh

Archaeologist ( SCHE, Chennai)



Advances in spatial technologies and spatial data infrastructures/services, and the development of digital globe browser – such as Google Earth from 2005 onwards – have been major factors in raising awareness and interest toward critical spatial and interdisciplinary thinking in many research fields. In the humanities and social sciences, the integration and spatial analysis of geographically referenced information into scientific conceptual frameworks has gained momentum over the past 10 years with the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) – a computer-based technology allowing to handle and analyse spatial data – and satellite imagery freely accessible through the internet.

In recent years, the flow of information from a host of sensors has grown exponentially. Providing with a discovery, descriptive and analytical tool, the incorporation and manipulation of remotely sensed data into a GIS offer great potentials for research to document the human, natural and built system components of the earth, and to explore the complex interfaces and interactions between society and the environment in relation to a number of issues: resource management strategies and impacts, social vulnerabilities in the face of hydroclimate risks/variability/disasters, water accessibility and sustainability, water depletion, land cover and land use changes, the impacts of human activities on earth, of changing water resources on agro-ecological production systems, settlement dynamics, and so on.

Today GIS and software for image processing, pattern recognition, and scientific visualisation are in widespread use through many disciplines, especially in the environment and health related research domains, and in applied science. Yet, it appears that most students and scholars from social sciences and humanities do not know what GIS is and can do, how it can be used, what types of data can be extracted from and analysed through remotely sensed images.

The objective of this workshop is to focus on the use, potentials and limits of spatial technologies for research in the social sciences and humanities concerned with issues at the interface between water, society and environment. Highlighted with case studies taken from various disciplines, it will provide a broad introduction to basics and principles of GIS and remote sensing. The workshop is opened to students from all disciplines, who are interested in spatial analysis and willing to implement GIS, spatial technologies and approaches in their research project. The practical work will make use of free software and satellite images.

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