Mapping the West Virginian Experience

map of West Virginia

Coming in 2022 at West Virginia University in Morgantown, WV


Personal stories and narratives are often tied deeply to landscape. Mountains provide perspective; rivers connect peoples; towns establish identities for communities. Stories also help express and address contemporary issues of change, migration, growth, and loss.

Geospatial literacy describes the ways in which a person views, understands, and interacts with the world. The geoliterate individual has an understanding of the dynamic physical and cultural forces at work in different places, and their spatial awareness of the world allows them to see and understand patterns, distributions, and interactions between the physical and human realms.

As geospatial literacy and technology are increasingly used to advance humanities scholarship and education, the National Humanities Center supports efforts to model and train teachers in the best approaches in the field.

With the generous support of the National Geographic Society, Mapping the West Virginian Experience will support a cohort of educators and scholars as they collect and visualize the stories of West Virginia using mapping technology. Working in district-based teams, participants will be trained in the use of GIS tools to collect and display data—then publish instructional resources on how to use these maps.

National Geographic Society


The use of geospatial technologies allows the interactions of place, space, time, and scale to be more obvious to teachers and students. Often there is an over-emphasis on the chronology of historical events without a strong consideration for their connections to geography. Geospatial technologies allow students to develop the critical ability to answer not only the important question of “where?” but also “why there?” With an emphasis on inquiry-based teaching and learning, Chris Bunin provides insights on the ways that GIS tools contribute to a deeper understanding of the humanities.

Structure and Participants

The “Mapping with GIS in the Humanities” training session will be hosted at West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia. Applications will be accepted from teachers and education influencers at K–12 public and independent schools currently located in West Virginia.


Chris Bunin, Teacher of AP Human Geography and Geospatial Technologies, Albemarle High School, VA

During the past decade Bunin has collaborated on projects focused on leveraging geospatial technologies and geo-literacy in the classroom. These include: “The Virginia Experiment” and “America on the World Stage” Teaching American History Projects; the iSTEM Teacher Scholars Program: An Applied Geospatial Curriculum for Middle Schools; “Transatlantic Teacher Scholars: Change Over Time and Place in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery”; ESRI’s GeoInquiries for US history and human geography; the US Census Bureau’s Statistics in Schools Program; and the award winning book Jamestown to Appomattox: Mapping US History Using GIS (Carte Diem Press). He is also assistant professor of geography at Piedmont Virginia Community College and a member of the Virginia Geographic Alliance Steering Committee. Chris was named the 2016 Secondary Social Studies Teacher of the Year by the National Council for the Social Studies.

Chris Bunin
Mike Williams, Education Projects Manager, National Humanities Center

Prior to joining the Center, Williams was twice recognized as the Warren County Schools Teacher of the Year and was the 2017 Organization of American Historians Tachau National Teacher of the Year. He was a contributing writer for the texts Family History in the Classroom and When We Were British: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Visualizing Early America, as well as in Time magazine’s “25 Moments That Changed History” series. He has been awarded fellowships through the West Indies Teacher Institute and Rural Teachers Global Trust where his research connected classrooms in London, Scotland, Ghana, and Barbados. He serves in a number of capacities, including as a member of the executive boards of the North Carolina Council for the Social Studies and the Warren County Community Center, on the steering committee of the North Carolina Geographic Alliance, and as a contributor for the UNC–Duke African Diaspora Fellows Program.

Mike Williams

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