I am heading into the last day of the ICPSR workshop on Spatial Regression Analysis. On several fronts, the workshop has been fantastic. The course is taught by Paul Voss (Wisconsin Rural Sociology) and Katherine White (Wisc. post-doc, heading to Brown Sociology), who are terrific instructors and scholars with excellent technical skills. Both the the didactic and lab components of the course were planned out in meticulous detail.
The ICPSR facilities are also ideal for teaching complex statistical methodology. Each student is working off a networked workstation with the latest statistical software. Files made and altered by the instructors during class can be immediately accessed and loaded from a common directory. Most of the spatial regressions are done in real time with the GIS mapping results rendered on a large screen. In this context, classroom technology is a huge advantage.
The final bonus is that course participants are drawn from a wide variety of disciplines--demography, public health, urban planning, history, sociology, social work, criminal justice, political science, economics, and law (i.e., me). From my perspective, the classroom and lunchtime discussions have produced a lot of unexpected insights. If this workshop is representative of other ICPSR programming, it is well worth the time and tuition ($1200 for five days).
Tip: The Cambridge House (run by U of M) is close, convenient, and cheap housing, but extremely spartan. The Internet connection is also very spotty. The Cottage Inn, on the other hand, is nearby and has a wonderful lunchtime buffet.