This course will serve as an introduction to the concepts, techniques, and histories that motivate geographic information systems. This course will simultaneously expose students to key moments in the academic literature that gave rise to GIS in the discipline of geography while providing the necessary, introductory skills to operate ArcGIS. GIS brings together traditional cartographic principles, computer-assisted analytical cartography, relational database design, and digital image processing and analysis to enable people to develop geospatial databases, analyze those databases, and use maps and other visual representations as part of this analysis. This course will help you develop conceptual and applied understandings of the following fundamental principles of GIS: the representation of spatial objects, spatial analysis and modeling techniques, spatial data types, sources, and structures, and principles of cartographic representation and communication. The lectures, readings, laboratory and project activities are designed to provide you with a solid grounding in the disciplinary histories that enable GIS, concepts that underlie GIS, an understanding of how spatial analysis and representation are carried out with GIS, and experience using a desktop GIS software.
In addition to building skills and competencies in technical literacy and numeracy, students will also develop skills in critical thinking and communication. GIS, as a technology, did not simply appear out of thin air, and this course is structured so that technical skills are historically and socially situated. Furthermore, while this course does emphasize the necessary skills to practice GIS, it also recognizes that the practice of GIS is not universal. There are multiple ways in which these systems are developed and implemented. As such, this course will expose students to this multiplicity, while giving them the necessary skills to be successful in more advanced courses in GIS development and implementation. Students shall be able to:
- Apply multiple thematic mapping techniques to represent geographic information, choosing an appropriate representation for your data set or project goal;
- Apply principles of map design to create a map that is coherent and convincing, as well as technically correct;
- Explain how spatial and attribute data are represented in a GIS, and understand the implications of these different data models;
- Perform basic analytic operations in a GIS, including data query, buffer, overlay, and reclassification;
- Create and implement simple cartographic models using a GIS software;
- Critically analyze cartographic and GIS applications to assess some of their potential social and political implications.
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- Crampton, Jeremy W. 1994. Cartography's Defining Moment: The Peters Projection Controversy, 1974-1990. Cartographica 31 (4):16-32.
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