Scott Madry, UNC Chapel Hill
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For some forty years now I have conducted, along with several colleagues, a long-term regional study of the relationships between peoples and their cultures and the environment in the region that is now southern Burgundy, France. We have, using an inherently interdisciplinary, even trans-disciplinary approach, investigated how people interact with the landscape over a period of 2,000 years, from the Iron Age to the present day. We have brought together archaeologists, historians, ecologists, geologists and more, focusing on how peoples both influence and are influenced by their environment using the approach of Historical Ecology. I have focused much of my part of this larger, on-going work on the application of advanced technologies to such regional and temporal studies. These include historical cartography, aerial photography and remote sensing, Global Navigation Satellite Systems (like the U.S. GPS), digital data archiving, and the integration of disparate data derived from many sources in our long-standing Geographic Information Systems (GIS). I see GIS as an integrative context where the data from many research disciplines and approaches can be both stored and analyzed, displayed and shared.
We have found that our Historical Ecology approach to this work allows us to bring together disciplinary approaches, data, and perspectives, and to synthesize these in ways that are not possible within any single discipline or suite of technologies. I am also a very strong proponent of Free and Open Source (FOSS) software, and the great majority of our technical work is done using open source tools that can be freely shared, modified, and adapted.