Geographic Information Systems Minor

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The geographic information systems (GIS) minor provides students with experience in the concepts, technology, and applications related to computer-based mapping, spatial databases, and geographic analysis and problem solving. The minor features two tracks: a GIS development track for students interested in GIS software development, and a GIS analysis track for students interested in utilizing GIS as a strong methodological base within their major of study. Required courses provide core GIS foundations applicable to a variety of multidisciplinary elective courses students can choose from to match their research, post-graduate, or career interests.

Notes about this minor:

  • Posting of the minor on the student's academic transcript requires a minimum GPA of 2.0 in the minor.


Notes about this minor:

  • Posting of the minor on the student's academic transcript requires a minimum GPA of 2.0 in the minor.
Required Courses
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.
Students may choose to all three courses in one track, or they may choose any three electives to complete the minor.
GIS development track
GIS Programming
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.
Geospatial Data Analysis
This course is an introduction to the theory and techniques used for spatial analysis of complex, geographically referenced data. Topics include spatial data analysis and statistical techniques for a variety of problem types that span a broad spectrum of disciplines. In-class and out-of-class assignments will develop students spatial data analysis skills.
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.
GIS analysis track
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.
Maps, Spaces and Places
In this course, students will gain experience with the processes, practices, and tools professional developers use to deliver robust and maintainable applications. Students will apply these practices and tools to build smaller-scale production-quality applications and systems. Topics include development life cycles, version control, test bed development and use, build utilities, error handling, deployment tools, and documentation.
Information Science and Technology Research
This course is for students enrolled in the BS IT degree program and minors to demonstrate competence in concepts, techniques and applications via a semester-length research project developed in conjunction with a faculty member and based on the student’s degree concentration or minor. With instructor guidance, students will learn how to formulate a research question, choose relevant methods to answer the question, execute the project and present results in a public forum.