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Boyd Shearer

I've always had an obsession with public space and maps. Any new place I visit, my instinct is to discover 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.

Info Sheet for At Leisure's Edge

While exploring Kentucky's segregated history, 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. Strands of research evaluate trail-use difficulty through terrain modeling of lidar data and deriving a scenic landscape index based on an overlay analysis of mulitple environmental layers. Being in the park, though, is the goal. In our digital lives, public parks, whether in the remote backcountry or leafy city parks, offer a discovery of an untethered self with only primitive technology to guide our way (until a cell tower is built nearby).

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

Contact Information
POT 805A
W 1–2:30, Tr 2–4
(859) 806-3938
Research Interests
  • Cartography and Design
  • GIS and GPS
  • scenic landscape analysis
  • weather and climate
  • public parks
  • web mapping
  • lidar
  • Digital Twin
  • Geography
  • New Maps Plus
  • New Mappings Collaboratory
  • UK Natural Resources and Environmental Science
  • University of Kentucky Appalachian Center