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Special Topics in Environmental Sciences (390-0-02)


GIS Level 1 (Geographic Information Systems 1)


Elsa C Anderson

Meeting Info

Technological Institute F280: Tues, Thurs 9:30AM - 10:50AM

Overview of class

This course offers an introduction to concepts underlying geographic information systems (GIS) and methods of managing and processing geographic information. The course is designed for students who have little background but want to learn the fundamentals and applications of GIS. Students will be exposed to both theoretical knowledge and technical skills in this course. Class assignments and the final project will promote students' application of concepts and skills in solving real-world problems.

Registration Requirements

There are no prerequisites required.

All Environmental Sciences, EARTH, Geography, and EPC majors/minors should register for the class during the pre-registration period.

Learning Objectives

Students will recognize the fundamentals of geographic information systems and build foundational information in geography. Students will demonstrate the concepts and applications of geospatial technologies. Students will apply basic skills of geospatial data processing using QGIS software, an open-source platform for GIS work. Students will analyze and interpret geospatial data using maps for visualization and presentation. Students will design project proposals using GIS concepts and techniques based on real-world problems and will communicate findings to audiences in class and beyond.

Teaching Method

This class will be taught with combined lecture/activity sessions. Each class will include a theoretical knowledge base, an in-class GIS exercise, and a relevant homework assignment to build skills.

Evaluation Method

The course evaluates students' performance by three components: in-class participation, assignments, and a final course project. In-class tasks are based on engaging with the material presented in lecture and completing the GIS exercises during class time. Assignments will be given to assess technical aspects using software and engagement with . Student will collaborate on a project based on a Chicago-based real-world problem in conversation with a local non-profit partner and complete it by the end of class.

Class Materials (Required)

Students must install QGIS 3.22 (long-term stable version) on their personal computer and will need to bring their computer and any necessary charging cables to class every session. Information for installation on both Mac and PC can be found at *If a personal laptop capable of downloading the software is a limitation, please reach out to Dr. Anderson or Dr. Beddows for support in obtaining a machine that will facilitate participating in this course.*