Liberal arts colleges have often appeared to be islands of scholarship and learning, insulated from their surroundings and largely concerned with preparing their students for careers in other places. Most have little connection to the life of their surrounding regions. GIS as a teaching and learning tool can do a great deal to build the synoptic view that Orr advocates: college students surely need to increase and improve their connections to the international and global systems that are their future, and they might well begin by developing a data-based sense of place about surrounding local and regional systems. Colleges can develop service learning courses to address local issues, but it is also important for students to have experience in distributing the knowledge gained to the broader community. Internet Map Server technology offers this capability for spatial data, and provides support for development of collaborations with a broad range of local and regional organizations.The great ecological issues of our time have to do in one way or another with our failure to see things in their entirety. That failure occurs when minds are taught to think in boxes and not taught to transcend those boxes or to question overly much how they fit with other boxes. We educate lots of in the box thinkers who perform within their various specialties rather like a dog kept in the yard by an electronic barrier. And there is a connection between knowledge organized in boxes, minds that stay in those boxes, and degraded ecologies and global imbalances. (David Orr, Earth in Mind: On Education, Environment, and the Human Prospect  pp. 94-95)
What follows is a sketch of extracurricular uses we propose for ArcIMS. Some can be implemented immediately, while others are projects that will develop over the next year or two, as W&L users realize the potentials of serving maps on the Web, and as more instructors become active users of spatial data. We emphasize efforts to use W&L's computing power to develop a shared platform from which to serve data, and we continue to seek collaborations with extramural organizations and institutions.
In the realms of campus curriculum development, we anticipate that ArcIMS applications such as the above will encourage instructors in many departments to become interested in active use of maps and spatial data in their courses. At present, GIS is used in courses in Geology and East Asian Studies, and will be at the center of a spring term course in Politics (Politics 295 Seminar in Technology and Politics: the 2000 Census and the New Political Map [supported by an Associated Colleges of the South Technology Fellowship, using ArcView and AutoBound]). These existing courses would benefit from the possibility to distribute maps with ArcIMS, both for instructional purposes and as examples of experiments in teaching with GIS. ArcIMS will also support Washington & Lee's efforts to build transdisciplinary collaborations via programs which cut across traditional departmental identities and seek broader perspectives. Three of these address questions with substantial spatial components: the Shepherd Poverty Program, the Environmental Studies Program, and the newly-funded Program for Education in Global Stewardship. Each of these programs seeks to include a service learning component which could make interesting use of ArcIMS: thus, the Water Resources course is designing remediation structures and educational outreach (involving local schools) for a tributary of the Maury River which flows through the W&L and VMI campuses, and the Poverty Program sponsors summer placements with non-profit agencies. The Global Stewardship Program will involve students in data analysis and map construction with continental and global datasets.
- Locally (in Lexington and Rockbridge County) W&L faculty are participating in several initiatives, loosely under the umbrella of the Rockbridge Area Conservation Council (RACC), a local environmental organization with a long tradition of successful advocacy for conservative land use practices and zoning:
- Maury River Alliance , "an initiative to study the water quality of the Maury Watershed", is exploring the connection between land use and water quality in a tributary of the James River. A GIS database has been developed to integrate water quality data with topography, geologic conditions, land use changes, and stream flow information. ArcIMS will enable distribution of water quality and landscape data to the public in an interactive form.
- Friends of Brushy Hills, a coalition to preserve a square mile of city-owned forested land for recreation, has been mapping existing roads and trails, and plans further trail development (see a brief summary ). ArcIMS will allow us to develop and distribute multi-layer trail maps and detailed guides to ecological resources in the proposed preserve, for use by citizens and school groups.
- W&L alumnus Charles Dietzel will be conducting research for his Masters degree in Environmental Management (at Duke University) in conjunction with the Rockbridge County Development and Land Planning Office, identifing and mapping areas within Rockbridge County which are candidates for Rural Conservation Areas. ArcIMS will permit his GIS data to be distributed to the public.
- We are exploring a partnership among county planners, the university, and civic/environmental organizations to serve comprehensive geographic data for Rockbridge county (including overhead imagery, utility and transportation networks, zoning and other land use designations, and demographic data like the 2000 Census PL 94-171 data, about to be released). The goal is to make a broad range of locally relevant data available to all our citizens.
- Surrounding counties:
- We are discussing cooperation with social science and geography teachers in local high schools to develop and distribute Web-based mapping materials. ArcIMS would permit ready distribution to their students.
- Rockbridge and surrounding counties have more than 250 years of settlement history, are hotbeds of local history interest, and are destinations for tourists interested in the Civil War. We envision an online Historical Atlas of the Shenandoah Valley, incorporating the resources of local historical societies, genealogists, library collections, and city and county archives.
- At the state level:
- The Virginia Citizen Monitoring Mapping Project, "a student-led mapping program... (to) support citizen monitoring activities in the state of Virginia", is now based in maps prepared by request and delivered on paper. ArcIMS will allow distribution of data to much wider audiences, and will encourage interactive uses of data.
- Across the South:
- The Digital South Project as proposed in January 2000, and elbowed aside by an unsuccessful application for FIPSE funds to support GIS across the disciplines on the 15 campuses of the Associated Colleges of the South , will be revived again with the prospect of a means to develop an effective map server.
ArcIMS will broaden what we can do in encouraging the use of spatial data, and augment our students' capability to distribute the products of their research to audiences near and far; we will also have the means to create and sustain productive alliances with educational, governmental, and citizen institutions and organizations in Rockbridge County and elsewhere. See the project log at http://miley.wlu.edu/gis/rockbridge/server1.html
Instructional Technology Specialist
Washington & Lee University
Lexington VA 24450