GE/ES 340 - Geographic Information Systems
This course introduces the fundamental concepts of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and the major functionality of the ArcGIS Desktop software package. After presenting various definitions of GIS, the basic principles of modelling the infinitely complex real world in a computer system with limited resources are portrayed. Different data models, such as vector and raster data, and their respective (dis-)advantages are discussed and the relational data model is introduced. The essentials of geographic reference systems and transformations are shown and possible problems related to working with data from different data sources are discussed. Basic vector as well as raster data analyses are conducted and the most commonly used tools for data analyses are presented. Wherever possible, data from original research projects or the students’ hometowns is used.
This course has an extensive practical component. Typically, afternoon sessions take place in the computer lab where students learn solving spatial problems using GIS software. Sample data is either provided by the instructor or students research datasets for their respective hometowns online. The students work on specific tasks individually or in small groups in order to deepen the understanding of basic concepts of GIS. The results are presented and are evaluated as part of the class participation grade. Through the course, the students should acquire a knowledge base that enables them to conduct their own GIS projects (e.g. in the course of their Master thesis), including data collection, preparation, analyses and presentation in form of maps. Furthermore, the students learn how to work with the software ArcGIS that is widely used in public administration, private enterprises, and non-profit organizations.