Bridging GIS, RS, and Geoscience teaching and research at a liberal arts college

Authors: WENJIE SUN*, Carthage College, Matt Zorn, Carthage College, Joy Mast, Carthage College
Topics: Geography Education, Geographic Information Science and Systems, Physical Geography
Keywords: GIS, RS, Geoscience, integration, geography education, curriculum development, liberal arts college
Session Type: Virtual Lightning Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 19
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Geography programs at liberal arts colleges are typically challenged by small size, limited staffing and budget. The authors will share their recent experience of seeking external funding to support the development of a comprehensive set of undergraduate teaching and research materials and infrastructure in the Geospatial Science Department at Carthage College to connect their Geographical Information Science (GIS), Remote Sensing (RS), and Geoscience courses and projects. This integration allows them to harness the latest geospatial technologies to better engage their students in a more effective, efficient, and cohesive way. Specifically, students from both Web GIS and Applied GIS Projects classes developed the backend web map and set up easy-to-use smart-form-based mobile apps running on iPads wirelessly paired with high precision GPS (Trimble R1 GNSS receiver, precision 0.5m) for field data collection in geoscience courses (hydrology, field methods, forest ecology, soil science, meteorology, etc.). The backend web map is updated in real time as field data collection is in progress (or the app can operate in “off-line” mode at sites without internet connection and allow data upload later), allowing instant map view within the mobile app and further computer-based visualization and analytics later in GIS and RS classes and/or research projects. The accumulated vast data set of biogeophysical properties, together with a rich repository of high resolution multi-spectral drone imagery from the Drones class, in turn provide locally-based, engaging spatial analytics labs and case studies for GIS and RS classes, as well as independent study/research projects and senior thesis projects.

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