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Geographic Information Systems



[BSc], GPH, GED, ID, PSc, EES, S

Admission requirements

  • Classes of 2013-2016: similarly-tagged 100/200-level courses or permission from the instructor.

Course description

Geographic information systems (GIS) are computer systems for the collection, storage, visualization, and display of geographically referenced information. A GIS can be used to ask and answer complex questions that have a spatial component. We can use a GIS, for example, to choose suitable land for a residential development based upon a series of criteria (distance from wildlife refuges, cost, slope, soil type) or to identify statistically significant clusters of infant deaths in a city. In fact, there are applications for GIS in almost any area of study including policy science, urban and regional planning, public health/epidemiology, geology, hydrology, history, anthropology, paleontology, and, of course, geography.

This course introduces GIS using a popular desktop package called ArcGIS 10.x. You will use this software and some additional programs, called ‘extensions,’ for vector and raster (grid-based) analysis. The course is problem-based. Your task is to solve these problems using the GIS and submit your answers as exercises.

Learning objectives

Learning goal: To develop a key vocabulary and an understanding of the software tools specific to geographic information systems/science.
Outcome: Students will demonstrate an understanding of key vocabulary and software tools and when to use them.

Learning goal: To understand geographic information systems-based methods used to investigate spatial questions within and across disciplines.
Outcome: Students will work together and individually to identify appropriate methods to answer spatial questions.

Learning goal: To apply geographic information systems vocabulary, tools, and methods to solve spatial problems.
Outcome: Students will investigate spatial problems in class and on their own time using geographic information systems specific vocabulary, tools, and methods.