Every Tuesday afternoon you’ll find me taking a break from coding and heading over the hills of Hobart to the University of Tasmania in Sandy Bay, where I’m lucky enough to be enrolled in a graduate certificate program for Geographic Information Sciences.

Although still bogged down in the basics, my long-term goal is to learn more about how GIS is used by different groups pursuing sustainability. Two applications are particularly interesting to me: 1) energy-efficient building, since I’ve done a lot of work already in that area with Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, and 2) agroecology, because … well I just find it so intriguing.

As part of this term’s work, I’m putting together a literature review of papers that discuss some aspect of GIS use in agroecology. If you’re not familiar with Agroecology, it’s the application of ecology to agriculture, or more aptly put by Stephen R. Gliessman, “applying ecological concepts and principles to the design and management of systems of food production.”

Even as it balances many disparate fields and systems, Agroecology puts a premium on supporting small farmers and preserving accumulated knowledge from millennia of efforts to make edible things grow. So how does that jibe with advanced technology like GIS? How are forward-looking groups unifying old and new in their pursuit of sustainability?

It’s early on, but I’ve already found some interesting papers, some directly related, some indirectly through related fields like organic farming.

I’ll post more here as I develop a more thorough list.

Meanwhile I’ve sent a few notes into the ether looking for help on this question:

…curious to see if either of those services turn up interesting answers.