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NOTE: This syllabus may change for any individual day up through the preceding class session. Individual readings may be tweaked or substituted; in the incredibly likely event that it snows in Boston this winter, we may move entire weeks around. We will endeavour to announce any changes in class; but rather than follow the paper copy, you should always consult the online syllabus at to ensure you have the correct readings.

Week 1

Monday, January 7: Introductions

Readings (in class): John Winthrop, City on a Hill

Thursday, January 10: Mental Maps


Install before class on your computer (as discussed in class):

QGIS (geographical software)

Week 2

Monday, January 14: Historic Maps

Remote: Meet at the Leventhal Center, Boston Public Library.

Take the Green or Orange line on your own inbound to Back Bay station; the Boston Public Library is nearby on Copley Square. The Leventhal Center is in the main library building fronting the square, to the right and then back.

Thursday, January 17: The science and craft of cartography


Week 3

Monday, January 21 No class, MLK day

Tuesday, January 22: (no class, but…) Mental Mapping Assignments due to Professor Offenhuber’s office

Thursday, January 24: The City and the Grid

Special Guest: Geoff Boeing: assistant professor of urban informatics and planning in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs.


Assignment distributed: Georectification, fire insurance, and Census maps.

Week 4

Monday, January 28: Conceptualizing Data


Thursday, January 31: Spreadsheets and other data visualizations


Before class: Install R and R Studio.

Assignment distributed: Historical data.

Friday, January 1 Fire Insurance assignment due

Week 5

Monday, February 4:


Thursday, February 7

Assignment Distributed: Tabular Data Visualization

Week 6

Monday, February 11

Guest: John Wihbey, Journalism


Thursday, February 14

No Readings: 1st idea for final project due. Project Brainstorm/Design workshop on the fire insurance datasets.

Week 7

Monday, February 18

No Class, President’s day

Archival Data Assignment due Tuesday February 19

Thursday, February 21: Texts and computer reading reading


Assignment distributed: Not Reading a Boston Biography.

Week 8

Monday, February 25: Text, 2

Guest: Laura Nelson, Sociology


Tabular Data visualization assignment due Wednesday, February 27

Thursday, February 28: Ideas workshop Part II.


Monday, March 4: Spring Break

Thursday, March 7: Spring Break

Week 9

Monday, March 11

Guest: Ted Landsmark, Kitty & Michael Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy

Thursday, March 14

Final project matchmaking.

Narrative and Data Journalism

Boston Globe Spotlight Series on Race, 2018

Week 10

Monday, March 18: Politics and polarization

Guest: Nick Beauchamp, Political Science.

No reading.

Thursday, March 21

Field Trip: City of Boston- New Urban Mechanics. No reading. Directions will be announced in class.

Final project contracts due at 5:00pm, March 22

Week 11

Monday, March 25.

Guest: Professor Dan O’Brien, Boston Research Center.

Readings (optional):

Thursday, March 28: From Local News to Fake News

Guest: Matthew Carroll


Bot Assignment distributed

Week 12

Monday, April 1: Hashtag Activism

Guest: Moya Bailey


Thursday, April 4: Twisting the dials from City Hall


Bot assignment due

Monday, April 8

Final project presentations: Day 1. (This empty day is Likely to disappear at some point in the semester due to snow days.)

Thursday, April 11: Last Class

Project presentations.

Final Projects due 4/20.