Applying Open Principles in Geospatial Education to Enable the Right to Benefit from Scientific Progress

Type: Panel
Theme: Geographies of Human Rights: The Right to Benefit from Scientific Progress
Sponsor Groups:
Poster #:
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Committee Room, Omni, West
Organizers: Andy Anderson
Chairs: Andy Anderson

Call for Submissions

Free and open-source geospatial software, open data resources, open standards, open educational resources, and open access to research publications are the Open Principles in Geospatial Education. In the last decade they have significantly lowered the barriers to the use of Geographic Information Science and Technology by the broader public and in particular by economically disadvantaged students and communities.

This panel will bring together key educators and thinkers to discuss these principles and their importance in enabling the UN’s Right to Benefit from Scientific Progress and Its Applications.

If you are interested in participating in this panel, please register for the conference to obtain your PIN, then send it along with your presentation title, abstract, and author(s) as soon as possible but no later than November 2 to Andy Anderson (


Geographic Information Science and Technology are important contributors to the advancement of human knowledge, as well to solving many societal challenges. Through there have been huge advances in GIST over the last few decades, the benefits of geospatial education and entrepreneurship opportunities are very limited for economically disadvantaged students and communities, due to the expense of the technology. However, the last decade has seen a rapid growth in free and open-source geospatial software along with the development of many open data resources, based in open standards. Together with open educational resources and open access to research publications, these Open Principles in Geospatial Education have significantly lowered the barriers to the use of GIST by the broader public.

Disseminating these advances is in keeping with the Right to Benefit from Scientific Progress and Its Applications promoted by the United Nations [1], which “includes (a) access by everyone without discrimination to the benefits of science and its application, including scientific knowledge; (b) opportunities for all to contribute to the scientific enterprise and freedom indispensable for scientific research; (c) participation of individuals and communities in decision-making and the related right to information; and (d) an enabling environment fostering the conservation, development and diffusion of science and technology.”

How do we enable access to geoeducational opportunities for all? How can we help everyone enjoy the benefits of geospatial scientific progress and its applications? How can we create a global community of practitioners committed to advancing open principles in geospatial education? This panel will bring together key educators and thinkers to discuss these ideas and their possibilities.

The panel is organized by the GeoForAll community [2] and is in association with YouthMappers [3], which will be organizing a community mapathon adjacent to the conference. The panel includes the following participants:

• Nina Feldman is a second-year graduate student working towards her Masters of Science in Geography and graduate GIS Certificate. Her research is split between working on Arctic Urban Sustainability and open-source software. She has been an employee of Youth Mappers for the past two years helping them spread the power of open-source technology to universities around the world. Her final senior capstone project actually involves creating and orchestrating a workshop on open-source applications to present to the Sacred Heart University in Belize.
• David Gibbs works with Global Forest Watch [4], an open-source platform and mobile application that puts powerful data on how and where the world’s forests are changing in the hands of people who are fighting on the frontlines of illegal deforestation and defending territorial rights. Policymakers, researchers, law enforcement officers, journalists, civil society organizations and indigenous and local communities in Peru, Cameroon, and Indonesia are using the satellite-based early warning alert system, coupled with contextual geospatial data and easy-to-use, on-the-fly analysis tools, to monitor and manage the world’s most threatened forest ecosystems.
• John Kelly uses participatory research mapping, including participatory GIS, with indigenous and other rural communities in Mexico and Honduras. Team projects have typically included university students in the host countries, and the transfer of technical skills to local investigators chosen by the communities. One experience was organizing a workshop for high school teachers in a town in Honduras to incorporate open-source GIS and mapping (using QGIS [5]) into their curricula.
• Christian Renschler’s open-source software and open data research led to the creation of [6], a US National Science Foundation-funded cyber-infrastructure to share data, code, imagery, and other related information among scientists, national observatories, and civil-protection authorities to make better decisions about hazards in volcano landscapes. He also developed the Geospatial Project Management Tool [7] to manage, share, process, and analyze geospatial, multi-temporal data, including remotely sensed images, promoting the free exchange of data, code, and models and the reproducibility of science. He was also involved in the response and free data exchange during major disasters including Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and the Haiti Earthquake in 2010 [8], as well as the recovery efforts of the radioactive contaminated communities in Japan after the 2011 Fukushima-Daichi nuclear power plant disaster. His research on extreme events and its impact on natural resources management, sustainable development, and community resilience, lead to the development of the PEOPLES Resilience Framework [9] that, in combination with the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals [10], invites interdisciplinary collaborators to more effectively engage in understanding and exchange of information representing these processes, enabling stakeholders to make better decisions.
• Britta Ricker has a wide range of experiences with open-source technology in both teaching and research. Through a range of specialized cartography and GIS courses including Web and mobile GIS, she introduces her students to an assortment of open-source or blended technologies. Her research ranges from the use of open data including open drone imagery to volunteered geographic information for citizen science. She has also contributed to an open-source textbook.



Type Details Minutes
Panelist Chris Renschler University at Buffalo (SUNY) 20
Panelist Britta Ricker University of Twente 20
Panelist Nina Feldman George Washington University 20
Panelist John Kelly University of Wisconsin - La Crosse 20
Panelist David Gibbs World Resources Institute 20

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