Why GIS?

Geography and Philosophy


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GIS
The mission of the GIS Program is to train future GIS professionals by providing theoretical and practical instruction, modeling and mentoring, and real-world professional experiences.

What is GIS?

Geographic Information Science (GIS), is a framework rooted in the science of geography that helps gather, communicate, and analyze data and makes an impact on your life everyday and you likely don't even realize it. For example, do you use a GPS on your phone or in your car for navigation? Target and other companies use GIS date to locate stores, while the Department of Natural Resources using it to analyze land cover and soils.  City planners use GIS to look at the relationship between low income housing and social justice issues, while web-based application designers use it to help you find the nearest restaurant or a ride on Uber.  Students in GIS have examined access to community gardens and food deserts in Duluth, the optimal location for solar gardens or wind turbines, and the best locations for new ski resorts in Colorado. 

How do I know if GIS is right for me?

Are you concerned with environmental, housing and social justice issues? economic and political problems? Transportation, infrastructure, and logistics? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then GIS is the degree for you!

What type of students are we looking for?

We seek students who are creative, inquisitive, ambitious and, most importantly, interested in the world around them.  Many of our students enjoy spending time in the outdoors, while others are interested in cities and urban environments.  What they have in common is an interest in thinking about how much we affect environments and how choices today affect future generations.  In order to provide the opportunity for real-world applications of skills learned in the classroom, our students do internships at local organizations, from urban planning agencies to environmental firms. 

Why choose GIS?

1. Small classes with committed faculty

2. Coursework that focuses on marketable skills

3. Integration of human and physical sciences

4. Engaging and hands-on classes

5. Opportunities for internships

6. Application of cutting-edge technology 

7. Community engagement focus

What do our majors do after graduation?

Upon graduation our majors have highly marketable skills that are attractive to a variety of employers and graduate schools.  Many of students go on to further their careers with additional training at the Master's and Ph.D. level, exploring both basic and applied research in GIS and geospatial sciences.  Other students find that entering the workplace is the path for them, finding employment as cartographers, urban planners, GIS analysts, surveyors, and drafters.   

Student Learning Outcomes

1. Graduates will demonstrate the theoretical knowledge expected from an early-career GISP

2. Graduates will acquire, edit, query, analyze and visualize spatial data in the context of larger projects, at the level of an early-career GISP

3. Graduates will be able to analyze a spatial question or problem, formalize hypotheses or solutions, then design and implement a workflow, at the level of an early-career GISP

4. Graduates will communicate their work effectively, through writing and producing effective visual representations of geographical information and analysis results

5. Graduates will articulate their personal strengths and skills as early-career GISPs as well as areas they wish grow in

6. Graduates will demonstrate behavioral dispositions expected from GISP professionals

7. When confronted with professional situations, graduates will make decisions that conform to the GISP code of ethics