Imaging the World: GIS at Indiana University

In honor of the upcoming Geography Awareness Week and GIS Day, has interviewed Geographic Information Systems (GIS) instructors at universities across the country. Read about Dr. Tom Evans, associate professor in the Department of Geography and Director of the Center for the Study of Institutions, Population and Environmental Change (CIPEC) at Indiana University and co-chair of IU's GIS Day event.

By Megan Driscoll

Dr. Tom Evans, Indiana University Can you tell us about GIS at Indiana University? What kinds of certificates and degrees are offered, and what is the curriculum like?

Dr. Tom Evans: The GIS community at Indiana University is diverse and multifaceted with representation from many departments, schools and staff units on campus. Students pursuing degrees in environmental management, environmental science, public health and criminology often use GIS. The Department of Geography offers a specialized sub-program in GIScience within its B.A., M.A./M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. A Ph.D. minor in the Human Dimensions of Global Change has a strong GIScience thread in it. Does the university offer any workshops or professional development courses in GIS for members of the community? If so, can you describe those programs and the characteristics of students who typically participate in them?

TE: Staff and instructors with the University Information Technology Services offer a rich workshop program covering many instructional areas of GIS. These range from one-day introductions to GIS to more focused programs concentrated on particular technical applications of GIS (e.g., Web-based GIS). These courses are targeted at the university community and attract undergraduate students, graduate students, staff and faculty participants. What types of careers are available for individuals who want to study GIS? Can you point our readers to any resources that might help them learn more about the field?

TE: Students studying GIS have a wealth of career opportunities. These include GIS applications in epidemiology, crime mapping, urban planning and environmental resource management, just to name a few. The University Consortium for GIS (UCGIS) and Association of American Geographers (AAG) websites have great information for students who want to learn more. How does IU typically celebrate GIS Day? Can you tell us about the events you have scheduled for this year?

TE: This year, Indiana University is recognizing its 10th GIS Day celebration. Our event is held in the Herman B. Wells Library and involves table displays from more than 20 units on campus, GPS tutorials and geocaching games, poster presentations and a keynote speaker. For more information regarding the event, please visit Indiana University's GIS Day website. What, if any, opportunities are there for members of the community to get involved in your GIS Day celebration?

TE: We welcome participation from members of the community. They can participate in our geocaching and game activities and learn more about how Indiana University staff and researchers are using GIS to solve real-world problems. Representatives from city and county government will also be on hand to show how they are utilizing GIS. Finally, I'd like to give you an opportunity to share any information you'd like about GIS in general and the GIS education and GIS Day celebrations at Indiana University.

TE: GIS is a powerful tool with many applications. Just the thrill of visualizing data spatially can lead to powerful new insights. There are tremendous opportunities to leverage the power of computational tools like GIS to solve many problems of global concern, such as renewable energy opportunities, deforestation and carbon sequestration, urban sprawl, traffic congestion and water sustainability. GIS is a tool that benefits many areas of science and we at Indiana University try to give students the creative and technical skills to address those problems.

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