Do Physical Geographers Need Computational Thinking Skills?

Type: Workshop
Sponsor Groups: Careers and Professional Development
Poster #:
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 2:35 PM / 4:15 PM (Eastern Standard Time)
Room: Wilson C, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Organizers: Coline Dony
Chairs: Coline Dony


This workshop is intended for anyone who identifies as a physical geographer, regardless of their level (student, teacher, researcher, professional). Women and minorities are especially encouraged to attend.

In this workshop, we will summarize the benefits of computational thinking skills for job prospects, projects and/or research in Physical Geography. We will showcase basic examples that apply to Physical Geography. This will be followed by a guided discussion with the audience on barriers and challenges to learning and teaching such skills and on issues of diversity in more technical aspects of Geography. We will end the workshop by sharing resources you can use as a geographer to learn or teach computational thinking.

This is part of a series of activities related to AAG’s Encoding Geography Initiative, a long-term commitment to support the teaching of computational thinking at all levels of geography education in a way that is inclusive. Geospatial innovations have been central to the current success of established tech companies such as Google, Uber, and Amazon and to that of many smaller tech startups. The geospatial data these companies and their users produce is increasingly used to better understand human behavior and interaction with their social and physical environment. The value and intelligence gained from these spatial data are such that the geospatial services industry creates approximately 4 million direct jobs per year (AlphaBeta, 2017). This is the main reason for the increased demand for graduates with training in both geography and computational thinking, but they are hard to find. As a consequence, employers across the public and private sectors face the dilemma to either hire a geographer with limited or no computational skills, or a computer science or engineering graduate with limited or no expertise in geography or training in spatial thinking.

The AAG is committed to ensure that new generations of geographers are equipped with the new skills required in order to be productive in our economy well into the future and also see an increased participation of women and other underrepresented groups. This AAG initiative will need involvement from faculty, students and employers.

For more information about this workshop, do not hesitate to contact Coline Dony at


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Discussant Coline Dony 100 2:35 PM

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