Boyd Shearer

blshea1's picture
  • Lecturer
  • Geography
  • New Maps Plus
  • New Mappings Collaboratory
5 Miller Hall
(859) 806-3938
Other Affiliations:
  • UK Natural Resources and Environmental Science
  • University of Kentucky Appalachian Center
Research Interests:

M.A., University of Kentucky, 1998
B.A., Indiana University, 1994


I've always had an obsession with public space and maps. Any new place I visit, my first instinct is to find and inventory my closest public parks. My published cartography focuses on favorite parks and wilderness areas.

In researching parks, my interests range from GPS mapping topographic features to video documentaries exploring historic city spaces. I've studied the development of large parks and forests in the historical context of economic exploitation of natural resources and changing ideas of scenic beauty and recreation. I've studied the genesis of urban park systems when Progressive Era ideas sculpted new programs for creative self-expression in city parks.

From graduate student research, I made an hour-long documentary exploring Kentucky's once-segregated black parks. Because of Jim Crow laws in the 1940s, Kentucky had cities with white-only and black-only park systems and even a black-only state resort park on Kentucky Lake. These parks remain a popular destination and space for annual cultural events. The KET-funded documentary can viewed here: At Leisure's Edge.

My current research focuses on one's experience in parks, especially while navigating. I want to map and evaluate trail difficulty through terrain modeling and use overlay analysis to derive a scenic landscape index. Being in the park, though, is the goal. In our digital lives, public parks, whether in remote backcountry or leafy city parks, offer a discovery of an untethered self with only primitive technology (until a cell tower is built nearby).

I teach courses in physical geography, cartography, and GIS.

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