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Study Abroad as Experienced through Penn State’s Master of GIS Program Course - “Challenges in Global Geospatial Analytics”

Authors: Beth King*, Penn State
Topics: Careers and professional development
Keywords: study abroad program, geospatial data analytics, geospatial technologies, refugee migration
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The authors developed and taught “GEOG 597G: Challenges in Global Geospatial Analytics” as an embedded course focusing on geospatial data analytics and professional practice in GIS. The first of its kind at Penn State, this graduate level course was developed as an elective in Penn State’s Master of Geographic Information Science (MGIS) program. This eight-week course consisted of six weeks of online delivery and two weeks traveling in the EU. Students enrolled in this course were GIS professionals, most of whom lived in the United States. Students participated in a collaborative data challenge project paired with graduate students at ITC (the Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation school that is part of the University of Twente) on developing geographic visualizations using the UNHCR migration data. Penn State and ITC students analyzed spatio-temporal patterns in the migration data using geospatial technologies. Successful outcomes included MGIS students presenting their analysis in an academic setting, developing new connections with international students and EU geospatial professionals, learning about mapping practices of European national mapping agencies, working in teams to address this global-scale data set, and applying geospatial technologies to visualize patterns in migration data over space and time. The course was offered in 2016, 2018, and planning is underway for 2020. Changes to the 2020 course include adding a cohort of undergraduate students from the College of Earth and Mineral Science and introducing the human component of the refugees and their stories through outlets such as the Anne Frank House and the Royal Dutch Marechaussee.

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