Fall 2017 - 60880 - PA 388K – Advanced Topics in Public Policy

Intro to Geographic Information Systems

Course Description 

Through lecture, labs, exercises, and a final project, this graduate course introduces students to GIS as a tool to be integrated into their research and work. The course gives an overview of GIS, shows how it is currently being used in professional and academic settings, goes through a myriad of applications associated with planning and policy, and looks at methods for critically evaluating data and geographic analysis outcomes. You will work through exercises covering data acquisition, spatial analysis, representation of spatial information, spatial statistics, 3D modeling, GPS data, and integrating GIS data with other programs. Beyond the technical, we will look at the social implications of GIS as a powerful tool for planning, policy, and decision making including: technology access, data integrity, human error and bias, empowerment of underrepresented positions, and manipulation of information. Much of the focus of the course is on a final project, for which students can investigate a particular area of interest as it relates to GIS. 

You should be prepared for a course that is challenging in many (good) ways. There’s no denying you’ll need to spend many hours in lab each week! This is the only way to get a basic mastery of GIS. Exercises and assignments are set up to walk you through processes in a step by step manner, with the result being an understanding of how to use important functions in GIS. The assignments are complimented by instruction within the lecture and the labs that explains the purpose, function, and potential applications of different GIS tools. 

The class will include a traditional lecture format and group discussion. Lectures will look at GIS theory, methods, and applications, as well as cartographic representation. The group discussion will leverage your previous experiences, course material, and readings to discuss the relevancy of GIS to your research and/or work. In all components of the course a critical evaluation of GIS outcomes, data use, and impacts will be encouraged and discussed. 

Upon completion of the course, you will possess the basic skills needed to begin using GIS in a professional or academic setting, an understanding of the opportunities and constraints of using GIS, how to critically evaluate GIS outcomes, and how to exhibit and display geographic findings. 

This class is cross-listed with CRP. CRP is the home department.

SUT 2.112