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Spring 2012 - 61948 - PA388K - Advanced Topics in Public Policy

Introduction to GIS for Public Affairs

Instructor(s): Pavon, Miguel A.
Unique Number: 61948
Day & Time: WTh 6:00 - 8:00 pm
Room: SRH 3.316/350
Waitlist Information:For LBJ Students: UT Waitlist Information
Course Overview

Topics for these policy seminars have included environmental and natural resources policy, health-service delivery policy, social welfare policy, transportation policy, science and technology policy, international affairs, national security, urban and regional growth policy, and political campaigns.


Section Description

Note: This course has a software learning skills lab which occurs on Thursday evenings (see "Hours" section below).

This course assists students to develop skills in information discovery and problem solving applying geographic information systems (GIS) to public affairs.

Local, state and country governments face increasingly complex decision on how to maintain or regain economic prosperity. In a world with limited resources, governments seek to ensure social stability and achieve improvements in quality of life for most residents. An array of incentives and other efforts try to provide some tools towards these goals. The tools to be effective need to be tuned to the conditions and integrated with the available resources. Decision makers who design these policies in some instances have limited analytical resources. Facts and data in the US are abundant, but converting data into relevant and useful information requires time, skill, and judgment. A Geographic Information System can often facilitate this decision making by painting a clearer picture of the conditions and their analysis.

How can a GIS be used to evaluate or help solve public affairs or policy questions?

This course begins with a survey of geographic information, including maps, satellite imagery, census data, and tabular data. The class lecture discusses approaches to spatial data analysis and tools for integrating and examining spatially-explicit data. The course emphasis is on fundamental concepts of geographic information science and associated technologies. Topics include geographic data structure, cartography, remotely sensed data, statistical analysis of geographic data, spatial analysis, map design, and geographic information system software.

GIS skills have proven to be helpful to the field of public affairs. Upon completion of this course, students should have the necessary skills to assemble relevant information, construct maps and perform analysis which can be used in a variety of settings. Students will be exposed to a variety of introductory GIS concepts and topics. Students who desire to know more about the theoretical basis of mapping should continue with more advanced GIS courses.

Hours: All classes will be on Wednesday evenings, 6-8 pm in room SRH 3.316/350. Software skills lab will be one hour a week on Thursday evenings, 6-8 pm in room GRG 206. Students will sign up for a one-hour segment (6-7:00pm or 7:15-8:15pm).  Quizzes reviews will be at the beginning of the next class after the quiz.

Intermediate and final presentation projects are expected to last 30 minutes per group, with around 4 teams of students. Presentation will include verbal explanation, maps, graphics and a report on the findings.  The size of the groups and the duration of the presentations will be finalized once the class size is established.

Communications: The instructor is available for individual meetings each week on Mondays between 5:30 pm and 7:30 p.m.  for those who have questions or comments about the class. He also volunteers to tutor students when needed and to assist students in dealing with homework or class content previous arrangement. He provides his cell phone number and e-mail below. The instructor encourages students to e-mail him if there are issues that ought not to wait until Monday or class.

A draft syllabus with grading policy, software which will be used, bibliography, and timeline is available for download.