By: Graduate students: Alicia Iverson, Nuzhat Tabassum Nawshin, and Chelsea Nestel;
Professor Robert Roth and Cartography Lab Creative Director Alicia Cowart
In August 2023, Ph.D. Geography students Chelsea Nestel, Nuzhat Tabassum Nawshin, and Alicia Iverson, alongside Professor Robert Roth and Cartography Lab Creative Director Alicia Cowart, journeyed 8,600 miles to Cape Town, South Africa for the 2023 International Cartographic Conference (ICC). The 5-day conference brought together 840 attendees from 75 countries, including UW Cart Lab alumni Tim Prestby and Lily Houtman, to discuss topics under the conference theme, “Smart Cartography for Sustainable Development.” The conference theme highlighted substantial efforts in collaboration between the International Cartography Association (ICA) who organized the conference and the United Nations in working toward achieving the global 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, including distribution of the book Mapping for a Sustainable World, an open-source (free!) textbook collaboratively produced under Rob’s direction, with UW Cartography Lab students’ contributing over 225 original maps and figures to the book. The book “brings to you best practices and methods in geospatial data and cartography to help unveil challenges and achievements towards the Sustainable Development Goals” (iii). As part of the conference theme, Rob and book co-author Dr. Britta Ricker (Utrecht University) held a free two-day, pre-conference training workshop based on the book in Harare, Zimbabwe with 45 in-person and 151 online attendees.
The conference program itself boasts a wide array of presentations and efforts around mapping. Dr. Alicia Cowart presented on her work with nonprofit organization Guerrilla Cartography with a talk titled “Food, Water, Shelter: Crowdsourcing a Diverse Atlas Trilogy on Global Human Needs.” Nuzhat Tabassum Nawshin presented her master’s thesis work for the first time, “Design Recommendations for Map-based Storytelling in Augmented Reality: A Preliminary Study.”
Alicia Iverson also presented her master’s thesis work, “An Introduction to (C)art Therapy: Sketch Mapping Workshops for Early Teens as a Case Study in Post-Representational Cartography.” Chelsea Nestel presented “Mapping Across the Curriculum: Cartographic Theory for K-8 Education” following on from her work as co-lead of the 2022 Cartography Lab Design Challenge. Finally, Rob Roth chaired the Commission on User Experience and a session, “User Experience Design for Mobile Cartography”, and presented the following works: “User Experience Design for Mobile Cartography: Update on a ICA Joint Commission Research Agenda”; “Designing maps & visualizations for mobile devices: A collaborative research agenda”; and, in co-authorship with Chelsea Nestel, “Opportunities and Challenges for the Next Generation of Cartographers.”
Perhaps most exciting was the session that brought together potential senior mentors and folks identifying as Next Generation Cartographers. Next Generation Cartographers is an ICA Working Group dedicated to advocacy, support and mentorship for early career cartographers within academic and professional cartography. NGC Co-Chair Chelsea Nestel held a meeting Wednesday, August 16th to invite ICC attendees to the initiative, assess the needs of scholars, and launch NGC’s discord channel. NGC meets bimonthly online and upcoming events include the launch of a peer support and mentorship program. Join us!
Trip highlights for the group included: building connections with international scholars likely to lead to novel collaborative projects; exploring the Children’s Map Competition in person; spotting a small owl while hiking down from a waterfall in the Botanical Gardens; diving into the South Atlantic Ocean with a colony of South African penguins just a pebble’s throw away; learning about South African history by touring Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned; hiking the incomparable Table Mountain while identifying the rare and endemic plant species of the Cape Floral Region; joining a South African braai (barbecue) at Cape Point while spotting an ostrich, a puff adder, and several bontebok en route, and sampling regional food while enjoying vibrant music during group meals and the conference dinner.
The students are grateful to the UW-Madison Department of Geography for the Trewartha Conference Travel Awards, and to the US National Committee and the International Cartographic Association for various scholarships, which made attendance at the conference possible.