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Haydar Kurban

Department/ College






Makada-Henry Nickie (Ph.D. Student, Economics)



I was awarded with Ph.D. in Economics by University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) in December 1999. Prior to joining Howard University as Assistant Professor of Economics in August 2001, I had worked as a Research Assistant Professor in UIC’s Center for Urban Economic Development. Consistent with my role as a member of the urban economics concentration in the Department of Economics, my research program investigates the distribution of costs and benefits of public policies in urban areas. I have collaborated with colleagues in the department and with faculty from the Engineering and Business Schools in a major interdisciplinary research effort here at Howard. This research agenda has led to a significant flow of external funds to Howard University to advance these areas of inquiry.

I joined the Howard University Interdisciplinary Research Team in January 2002 to develop a grant proposal for the National Science Foundation (NSF) initiated interdisciplinary solicitation. Our proposal was awarded $600,000 by NSF/ONR. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded approximately $100,000 to our grant proposal entitled “the Housing Education and Outreach Initiative: A Certificate Program in Fair Housing Law and Investigations” (PI: Haydar Kurban and Co-PI: Rodney Green). I was also awarded $40,000 by Howard University through New Faculty Research Grant Program in 2001 to initiate the studies which leveraged these external funds.

An emphasis on distributional consequences also characterizes my work on power system failures. As part of an interdisciplinary research team, I incorporated public acceptance of risk under deregulation into an overall reliability index, a major innovation in a field previously dominated by purely technical engineering concepts. In order to develop the overall reliability index, I used economic and social variables to create an index that will measure the economic and social costs in case of a power outage. After Katrina, I modified the public perception index to incorporate the factors that contributed to the failures in New Orleans. Our Urban Vulnerability Index (UVI) ranked the major urban areas in terms of their preparedness to respond to a disaster like Katrina adding important insights into the national debate over disaster preparedness. In the broader community and as an extension of our work on public perception we, (with Dr. Dr. Green and Dr. Fanara) developed Urban Vulnerability Index (UVI). In a letter to the editor of The Washington Post and we ranked the cities by the UVI. The post published this letter on September 16, 2005. The Urban Vulnerability Index received attention from public and BET TV posted articles on its website ( on September 26 and 27, 2005.
My research program has greatly helped to shape my teaching contributions. I have partnered with the scholars at San Francisco State University in their NSF funded project to test the newly developed teaching modules of ArcGIS, a Spatial Analysis and Data Visualization Tool. To incorporate GIS training into my Urban Economics courses, I developed stand alone teaching modules that made spatial analysis tools available to Howard University’s students, faculty and the community.

For more information visit:


Developing Instructional Modules for Spatial Analysis: Teaching ArcGIS


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ECO-199 Introduction to Urban Economics (Undergraduate Level)

ECOG – 230 Urban Economics I (Graduate Level)



The attached DVD includes GIS Teaching Modules, GIS training manual, and video clips. In addition the supporting files, such as data bases, shape files and excel files are also included. The user can either read the GIS manual which describes each teaching module in step by step fashion or/and the user can watch VIDEO DEMOS for each module. The user is asked to master 13 objectives through hands-on experience.


Empowering Howard University students with access to spatial analysis tools such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) can be an important step in the right direction. Spatial analysis has been extensively used in various disciplines to explicitly incorporate space or distance into the analysis. When properly used, the end result is the amalgamation of different types of data into graphical thematic presentation. However, there are three challenges: (1) GIS software is not readily accessible without training. (2) Spatial analysis requires shape files, which are not available for those who are not familiar with GIS and spatial data. The user needs to know where to find them and how to create them from the scratch. (3) ArcGIS software is expensive. I overcome these challenges by developing GIS training modules and partnering with ESRI (the company that developed GIS) to receive free student version GIS software. The GIS training modules combine a voice-over of a recorded keystroke process showing how to use ArcGIS 9.1. Following the step by instructions described in GIS manual and VIDEO DEMOS, the user will learn various aspects of spatial analysis, from collecting data, building datasets, finding shape files, building shape files to creating maps for spatial analysis.


The main objective is to improve research capabilities of our graduate and undergraduate students. I have developed GIS teaching modules to teach spatial data analysis based on modern spatial analysis tools, such as ArcGIS program in graduate level urban economics courses. Currently, our students have limited access to modern spatial analysis tools. By teaching our undergraduate and graduate students modern spatial analysis tools, I intend to increase the research capabilities of our students.
Using GIS involves various tasks, such as collecting data, creating variables and representing data on spatial maps that clearly communicate the message. The user has to know how to collect spatial, demographic, social and economic data. The user has to know how to summarize, display and analyze complex issues by a few well-defined variables or indicators. Without mastering the key elements of GIS Software, a user cannot effectively utilize spatial analysis.
There are three challenges: First, GIS software is not cheap. Second, it is not easy to use without training. Third, spatial analysis requires shape files, which are not easily available for those who are not familiar with GIS and spatial data. The effective user needs to know both where to find existing shape files and how to create them from the scratch.


GIS can be an effective research tool to successfully advocate for change in social and economic policies if one can overcome the following three challenges: First, GIS software is not cheap. Second, it is not easy to use without training. Third, spatial analysis requires shape files, which are not easily available for those who are not familiar with GIS and spatial data. The effective user needs to know both where to find existing shape files and how to create them from the scratch. I developed stand-alone instructional modules to accompany web-based data sets and exercises. The GIS training modules have two components: a manual that describes the hands-on projects and video clips that help the users to learn the basic steps involved in using GIS. We have developed a demonstration project, which looks at the proximity of McDonald’s fast food restaurants to high schools in the District of Columbia. The project investigates the relationship between obesity and the proximity to junk food places across the neighborhoods in the District of Columbia.

Through collaboration with ESRI (the company that developed ArcGIS), I have secured 30 student copies of ArcGIS free of charge in fall 2005 semester and 40 copies in fall 2006. The cost of a single-user copy of ArcGIS 9.1 is about $500. Every student in my class is provided with free ArcGIS software, GIS teaching modules, instructions and power point lecture notes through the Blackboard.


Our students are weaker in quantitative reasoning and analysis compared to the students at the peer institutions. My GIS teaching modules serve as hands-on applications for students. I made available the instructional modules on the Blackboard, where students have easy and 24 hour access. The learning experience is interactive, such as the students follow the instructions and they can watch the video clips to visually understand how new maps are created.

Based on my experience, students show lack of interest sometimes simply because they cannot relate to the topics of research papers and clearly understand how the statistical and other data analysis tools are used. The teaching modules incorporate research topics, such as segregation, income inequality, and mismatch between the economic opportunities and the residential patterns that the students see as relevant as far as their experiences are concerned. The instructional modules are designed to meet three objectives. First, I want to improve analytical and statistical skills of our students by making the spatial research tools accessible. Second, by using ArcGIS, our students can improve the style and presentation of their research. Third, by using real research data and statistical theories, our students gain research focus very early which will give them a comparative advantage in today’s global and demanding economy.


I incorporated teaching ArcGIS into my Introduction Urban Economics (undergraduate level) and Urban Economics I (graduate level) in fall 2005 semester. I had 23 students in the under graduate course and 6 students in the graduate course. Of the 23 students, 21 of them completed and submitted their term papers for grade. Every student has implemented the three teaching modules to a metropolitan area and produced data maps that compared the economic status of the different minority groups. I was pleasantly surprised that 21 students did learn to produce data maps, create new variables from the Census Data, critically review the literature and write interesting papers about their metropolitan areas. In fall 2006 semester, I had 4 students in the graduate course and 21 students in the undergraduate course. All but one student completed their projects. In fall 2007 semester, 3 graduate and 17 undergraduate students completed GIS projects.

The GIS training modules have two components: a manual that describes the hands-on projects and video clips that help the users to learn the basic steps involved in using GIS. Our training module teaches GIS in 13 objectives Depending on the type of the project and the availability of data sources, the user might need to use only a few or all objectives.


The most important benefit of the teaching modules is that they are self-contained. They can function like a tutor. The student follows instructions and creates visual maps that are interesting and provides spatial dimension for analysis. Students have different ways and speed for learning a subject. Equipped with the teaching modules, the student can always practice. I have noticed that the students do more group studies with these modules. Since every student had to pick up a different city, the likelihood of copying from each other was almost zero. Instead, they asked each other questions about how to create “zones” or perform some statistical tests. The modules also teach them how to get the data from various public sources and create new variables.

Without these teaching modules, only very motivated students could complete the term paper. It is the interactive tutoring that is provided by the teaching modules that made the difference. Collaboration with the researchers at San Francisco State University, who had developed three teaching modules through a NSF grant and free ArcGIS software from ESRI also made difference. My research assistance Makada Henry-Nickie has developed a demonstration project and video clips so that students can visually follow the exercises.
I used Friday classes for teaching GIS, where I used my laptop computer and the projector to step by step discuss the exercises.


Generally, teaching a computer application like ArcGIS requires a computer lab, a teaching assistant and an instructor. Site license of ArcGIS 9.1 for 50 users is about $30,000. There is a need for a teaching assistant trained on GIS. By having access to free software, teaching modules and ArcGIS instructions for four modules have saved the Howard University from building a computer lab, buying site license for GIS and hiring a TA for a semester. Installing ArcGIS on the students’ personal computers and making course materials available on the Blackboard provide a 24 hour access for the students. It is like creating an interactive and virtual computer lab for the students. Given that we have limited classroom space and not all the students live on the campus, using teaching modules and the Blackboard can be superior to a real computer lab allocated for teaching ArcGIS.

The advantage of my teaching modules and free software for every student’s personal computer is 24 hour access to interactive learning. Since most of our undergraduate economic students will work as interns and research assistants for the government, non-profit and private organizations, organizing, analyzing, and visually presenting data will be the most important aspect of their jobs.


Spatial analysis tools are used by many disciplines, including City and Regional Planning, Community and Economic Planning and Development, Housing Studies, Transit and Transportation Issues, Land Use, Crime Analysis and Policing, Emergency Management and Public Works Utilities, Census and Demographic Studies, Public Health, Political Science, Sociology and Business. With ArcGIS, one can combine demographic, economic, political, and social variables with geographical variables that are called shape files. ArcGIS can be used to create data maps and new variables for spatial analysis. My students are already using ArcGIS for various projects at the Center for Urban Progress (CUP). They are also using my modules to the other interns and students. One of my graduate student’s (Makada Henry) class project in fall 2005 received the best paper award in the Graduate Student Symposium organized by the Graduate School in April 2006. Incorporating ArcGIS into my undergraduate and graduate level Urban Economics courses has significantly increased the enrollment to these courses. With a slight modification, my teaching modules can be used by the other disciplines, such as political science, public health and sociology.

With a little financial support from the university, ArcGIS can be integrated into the CETLA’s curriculum.


My technology solution is accessible to most of the students with physical challenges. The only exception will be the students with visual challenges. My teaching modules accommodate a variety of learning styles because they are self contained and the student can determine the speed and type of learning. They are accessible on the blackboard. Another limitation of my technology is that every student is expected to have access to a computer with internet connection. I teach my undergraduate level course in the Business School, where the wireless internet connection is available. The students that did not have laptop computers used the computer lab in the Economics Department. Providing laptop computers to every student in the class will definitely create a more interactive and hands-on learning experience.

Students have used the course bulletin board for the course is on the blackboard. They had opportunity to interact with others in the course. I can allow other students to have access to the course materials on the blackboard.

In October 2007, we were invited by U.S. Census Bureaus to present our GIS teaching modules to members of Census Information Centers. After our presentation, Census Bureau copied our GIS teaching modules on a CD and distributed to community based organizations.


Dr. Rodney Green, and

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