As the world grows in complexity and interconnectedness, new challenges arise in visually representing, reasoning, and making sense of spatially-oriented problems and data. The geographic information systems immersion allows students to study geographic problem solving and scientific inquiry from an interdisciplinary perspective of interactive, digital mapping tools and related digital data problem solving technologies. Students are introduced to geographic mapping concepts and theory, digital cartography, geographic problem solving with geospatial and related computer tools, geospatial technology ethics and application of GIS to global problems such as natural disasters. This immersion is closed to students majoring in web and mobile computing, human centered computing, and computing and information technologies.
Introduction to Geospatial Technologies
This course provides a survey of underlying concepts and technologies used to represent and understand the earth, collectively referred to as Geospatial Technologies (GTs). Students will gain hands-on experience with GTs, including Global Positioning Systems (GPSs), Geographic Information Systems (GISs), remote sensing, Virtual Globes, and Web mapping mashups. Students also will develop basic spatial thinking, reasoning, problem solving and literacy skills.
Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
This course introduces students to Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Course lectures, reading assignments, and in-class activities cover a mix of conceptual, practical and technical GIS topics. Topics include GIS data models, basic cartography, geodatabases, spatial data acquisition and creation, and spatial analysis. Through applied research projects, students will learn how GIS is a support mechanism for spatially-oriented thinking, reasoning, literacy, and problem-solving at the global scale. Such global problems include international disaster management, digital humanities, climate change, and sustainable development. This general education course also examines GIS ethical issues such as privacy, information ownership, accuracy, and mapping and social power.
Choose one of the following:
Maps, Places and Spaces
This course takes as its premise that spatial thinking is critically important. Spatial thinking informs our ability to understand many areas of 21st century culture, as mobile interfaces and geospatial technologies enable us to engage with our surroundings in new ways. The study begins with the history maps and mapmaking, and explores how maps work. As students create representational, iconographic, satirical, image-based, informational, and other map forms, the course emphasizes the map as narrative. The course develops into an exploration of the ways, particularly in texts, that mapmaking creates cultural routes, mobile forms of ethnography, and ways of imagining travel and tourism in the era of globalization. The diverse writers represented in this course are rethinking space as a dynamic context for the making of history and for different organizations of social and communal life.
Computational Problem Solving in the Information Domain I
A first course in using the object-oriented approach to solve problems in the information domain. Students will learn to design software solutions using the object-oriented approach, to visually model systems using UML, to implement software solutions using a contemporary programming language, and to test these software solutions. Additional topics include thinking in object-oriented terms, and problem definition. Programming projects will be required.
Introduction to Database and Data Modeling
A presentation of the fundamental concepts and theories used in organizing and structuring data. Coverage includes the data modeling process, basic relational model, normalization theory, relational algebra, and mapping a data model into a database schema. Structured Query Language is used to illustrate the translation of a data model to physical data organization. Modeling and programming assignments will be required. Note: students should have one course in object-oriented programming.
Spatial Problem Solving and Algorithms
This course is targeted to students with a serious interest in geographical problem solving via underlying spatial algorithms. Students will learn how to compare and contrast different specific spatial algorithms for solving specific geographic problems and develop proficiency with encoding and implementing spatial algorithms in computer programs. Students taking this course will gain a broad interdisciplinary skill set in how to think spatially and computationally through critical engagement of geographical problem solving.
Thematic Cartography and Geovisualization
This course examines the use of maps for geographic problem solving and scientific inquiry. Students will learn theory, concepts and techniques associated with maps as geographic problem solving and scientific inquiry devices such as map comprehension, evaluation, construction, usage, and assessment. Students will also learn how to compare, contrast, and implement map-based geographic problem solving and scientific inquiry techniques such as thematic cartography, geographic information visualization, and animated and interactive maps. A geographic problem solving research project that incorporates thematic cartography and geographic visualization solutions is required.
The concept of sustainability has driven many national and international policies. More recently, we have become aware that unless we physical build and rebuild our communities in ways that contribute to sustainability, making progress toward that goal is unlikely. It is equally important to recognize the social aspects of sustainability. In addition, it is at the local level that the goals of equity (a key consideration in community sustainability), most often achieved through citizen participation and collaborative processes are most easily realized. This course will broaden students understanding of the concept of sustainability, particularly the concept of social sustainability. This course focuses on sustainability as a way to bring light to the connections between natural and human communities, between nature and culture, and among environmental, economic, and social systems. Working closely with local organizations, students will explore the applicability of theoretical concepts.