Geographic Information Systems
Geography 488

Instructor: Matthew McGranaghan
PSB 313, 956-7092,
Meeting: TTh 1:30-2:45 in PSB 310

Overview: This course is an introduction to geographic information systems. We will cover spatial data models and data structures, data input operations, database management, map modelling, spatial data analysis, and data quality. We will also examine institutional, economic, political and social concerns in using GIS. We will use microcomputer-based GIS to illustrate GIS functions and capabilities. The course presupposes some familiarity with computers and will require students to use them in completing lab assignments and a term project.

Requirements and Grading: Class attendance and participation are expected. There will be readings each week. It is expected that you will read, raise questions from, and be prepared to discuss, this material. Grades will be based on:

All of the assignments (including the labs and "writes") must be completed to pass the course. I will sum each student's weighted total score and use "natural breaks" and my judgment as to the overall class performance to determine final grades. University rules on incompletes will be followed.

Readings: The basic readings for this course are listed in the syllabus. The main text will be Paul Bolstad GIS Fundamentals: A First Text on Geographic Information Systems (3rd ed). Supplemental readings will be suggested as needed, particularly to support graduate student interests.

Labs and Software: The hands-on component of the class will be divided into several overlapping phases. The first phase will get you up and running with the GIS software through a series of skill-building exercises. The second phase will be a team project to build a database and conduct an analysis. The third phase is an individual term project in which you will build and or assemble your own data sets to conduct an analysis yourself. (There is considerable flexibility on this individual project. Ideally, it should support some other project of personal interst. It will be be beneficial to nail-down what you will do quite early.) The software we will use this term will be ESRI's ArcGIS 9. This software was selected for functionality, price, and hegemonic near ubiquity. It is available in the lab, via the university site license, with the Getting to Know ... book, and via a student license directly from ESRI. You may perhaps want to try some things with other software, such as, Intergraph's MGE, Clark University's IDRISI, Manifold's Manifold System, the public domain GRASS, and other tools (perhaps for your individual project).

updated Aug 2008