GIS in Undergraduate Teaching

6 and 7 Dec 2000
A question from William Klingelhofer: ?where are there interesting things going on with GIS? (he was inquiring in re: International and Global Stewardship) provoked the search that produced the following links. I've (mostly) left off sites that are aimed at GIS as a degree subject, and I've been selective in listing sites where GIS is part of geography/geology/env stud programs, and those concerned with Remote Sensing in Geosciences... The list is just a place to start exploring, but should feed into a consideration of our opportunities that I'm starting to assemble. Also a search for Global Studies AND GIS.

At the San Bernardino conference I attended in July [see also Joseph Kersky's version] I heard about an across-the-curriculum GIS initiative at Cal Poly Pomona (see also Geography and Anthropology and Center for Geographic Information Systems Research, and see also their Faculty Institute on Spatial Analysis with GIS)

ESRI Redlands (quite close to CSUPomona) is an obvious place to explore... if anybody actually knows about the scope of GIS in the undergraduate context, it's surely ESRI. The fact that Mike Phoenix is no longer with them makes for some unknowns in their liaison activities, and this is one thing to find out about via some e-mail and phone traffic. Mike was great to talk to and work with, having as he did a great depth of experience in dealing with university clients of ESRI. ESRI's GIS for Higher Education home page is one path...

At William's suggestion I looked at the pages of St Andrews and found (to no great surprise) that GIS resides primarily in the St Andrews School of Geography & Geosciences. This is in keeping with the British model, which never "lost" geography as many US institutions have done. The degree to which St Andrews is teaching with GIS (as opposed to teaching of GIS) is unknown, but they certainly have Degree Courses in Geography --the problem for the W&L student at St Andrews might be that these courses and this course of study wouldn't connect with anything on the books at W&L... but that might be an interesting Opportunity for students in the I&GS Program: a term at St Andrews taking geography courses might very well fit into the Program. The question, then, is the degree to which it would be possible for an American student (with predictably minimal geography background) to fit into the St Andrews program(s) as a visitor.

There are (many) other instances of GIS teaching in UK and Ireland, including GIS at University College Cork

Another European geography-based example: With Map in Hand Geographic Information Systems (GIS) In Higher Education. (Sweden)

I have found several extended discussions that are particularly worth attention:
A very interesting and timely (May 2000) Report of the Faculty Library Committee Geographical Information Systems (GIS) Taskforce proposing a cross-disciplinary initiative at Brandeis, and including a number of links to other programs ("The Status of GIS at some Local and/or Comparable Institutions"). Focused on how to provide access and support and training, from a library base, but also suggests which departments (Politics, History, Sociology, Anthropology, Biology) and Programs might be most interested. Links to Brown University Library's Social Sciences Data Services and UVa's Geospatial & Statistical Data Center (among others)


For most students, including most Geography students, the focus of their learning is upon the use of digital geographic information, not upon the technologies which deliver this information. Most students now use geographic information, they donít study GIS...

If the trend watchers (Twigg and Oblinger, 1996, Denning, 1996, Tapscott, 1996 and Dertouzos, 1997) are to be believed, the new generation of GIS courses will emerge in an educational environment that features:

Within the next few years, therefore, not only will the GIS curriculum change but so too will the methods used to teach it, the institutional framework within which it is taught and, indeed, the characteristics of the students who want to learn.

GIS Today (X. Mara Chen)

GIS: The Wave of the Future for Information Analysis (Natoli)

A Collaborative, Community GIS -- What a Sensible Idea

my Mellon proposal ("Geographical Information Systems and Maps on the Web") of 1997 or so --as an indication of where this originated

Some course pages:

Library 2000: Interdisciplinary Applications of Geographic Information Systems from CSU Hayward

Data in GIS: Acquisition Interdisciplinary 607 Introduction to GIS

Summaries of GIS activities from various institutions:

There seems to be an Experimental Web-Based Interactive Environment collaboration between University of Western Michigan and San Diego State. This makes an interesting model to consider in the context of Associated Colleges of the South, but isn't directly applicable to the immediate questions of I&GS.

GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SCIENCE ACTIVITIES AT THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA discusses development of GIS in a number of departments (including History, Economics and Political Science) and showcases some multidisciplinary undertakings.

GIS at Rice, with links to work being done in a number of departments

An Overview of Activities in GISat the University of Massachusetts Amherst and GIS Within Academic Departments at UMA

Samples of projects of the Geographic Information Science (GIS) Research and Teaching Program, from the College of Forest Resources of North Carolina State University

University of Maine UCGIS Portfolio

Queen's University GIS Lab

Integrating GIS Into An Undergraduate Environmental Studies Program William J. Cromartie Richard Stockton College, Pomona NJ and Integrating Geographic Information Systems Into The Undergraduate Environmental Science Curriculum

Application Portfolio to the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (University of Texas at Dallas --many concrete examples of GIS applications)

This Geographic Information Systems in Business for the IS Literate workshop may have been several years ago, but (a) indicates the business/commerce connection and (b) lists names of some presenters who might be able to shed futher light on what's happened since. A list of such folks to contact by e-mail would be a good idea...

A 1994 summary from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Urban Planning and Geography departments (probably not all that relevant to today's hardware/software environment): LONG RANGE PLANNING FOR A MULTIDISCIPLINARY GIS ENVIRONMENT IN AN ACADEMIC SETTING

Virginia Tech Center for Environmental Applications of Remote Sensing

Environmental Studies examples:

Mapping the Environment from Innovations (1997)


GIS as a Tool in Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies: Student, Teacher, and Community Perspectives Marsha Alibrandi (and see USING GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEMS (GIS) IN SECONDARY EDUCATION and GIS Technology for Community and Environment

Grassroots GIS in the Southern Appalachian BioRegion (Brooks, Hatley and Andrew)

Some survey instruments used to gauge GIS activity:

ASSESSMENT OF PRESENT AND POTENTIAL USE OF GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEMS AT NORTHERN ARIZONA UNIVERSITY --a forms-based survey instrument used a year ago. I'll see what I can find out about the outcomes.

1997 Survey form from U Ga (Ray Argo)

Some collections of links for further exploration:

Great GIS Net Sites, from Harvard Design & Mapping Company

The Endless Links, from CSU Pomona

and yet more, from Northeastern State University's GIS Day page

Georgia Spatial Data Infrastructure

"a variety of examples of how GIS has been applied to communicate information and ideas" from Northern Arizona University

GIS Literature Database ("tables of contents of many GIS conference proceedings and collections of articles published since 1991") from University of Maine

Mapping and GIS Solutions For Municipal Government (by: Autodesk GIS Market Group Staff)

A background paper of tangential interest (being mostly concerned with an early-90s contretemps within academic Geography): Demystifying the Persistent Ambiguity of GIS as "Tool" Versus "Science" (Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 87(2): 346-362, 1997.)

The Hidden GIS Technocracy (Nancy J. Obermeyer)


Full Circle: More than just Social Implications of GIS (Nicholas Chrisman) ["...GIS is certainly a part of the development of surveillant aspects of economic power..."]