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Fall 2020 Education Survey Results Published

In January 2021, the UCGIS Education Committee surveyed the UCGIS community to ask about their teaching experiences - the good, the bad, and the ugly - from fall 2020.  There were some technologies worth trying, some strategies that failed, and some innovations and ideas worth repeating. Screen-Cast-O-Matic was a clear winner. Lousy internet connections undermine all types of efforts every time. Virtual field trips can be wildly successful.  Here are the summarized results (pdf) - download to read them all!

UCGIS Partners to Offer Discounts on Spatial Statistics & Mapping with R Classes

Looking for some targeted professional development to enhance your mapping and spatial analysis skills with R?  Consider upcoming summer 2021 sessions of Spatial Statistics for GIS Using R ( or Mapping in R ( Each of these 4-week-long online courses is taught by well-known and familiar experts from within our own GIScience community. Starting now: the classes are available to individuals from UCGIS member institutions each at a $150 discount (25% off the $589 per class price). 

Since the early 2000s, The Institute for Statistics Education ( has been known for providing solid, rigorous short courses on a wide range of statistics and data science topics.  Their classes have always been offered online (asynchronous), with three main elements: weekly lessons with assigned readings, a private discussion board for students & the instructor, and homework assignments that will receive instructor feedback. Plus, these courses are eligible for CEU and other credit options (see the website for details).

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Education Committee Publishes Report

Members of the UCGIS Education Committee have published a report following their interactive session during the June 2020 Symposium, Capturing New Opportunities in GIScience Education.  The session focused on three topics: 1) opportunities, 2) equity and accessibility, and 3) effectiveness. You can find a full copy of the report here (pdf).

2020 Innovation in GIScience Education Award

Last year, UCGIS introduced a new biennial award for Innovation in GIScience Education. This month, the 2020 recipient was finally announced. In recognition of efforts far and beyond expectations, during massive disruptions at our universities in the first few months of this year, the UCGIS awards the 2020 GIScience Education award to the entire global GIScience Education community. For every person who jumped into online teaching and learning, and did all they could to just make it work and support their students, the citation says it all: 

For meritorious service in developing innovative learning techniques to advance GIScience education and promote equity and inclusiveness under trying circumstances and extreme risk of mortal illness.

Reflections from a Decade of Online Teaching

by Karen Kemp, Professor Emerita at University of Southern California and UCGIS President 2019-20

As I hear from many of you and read lots of blogs and articles about the challenges of going suddenly to online teaching, my heart goes out to the many of you trying to do your research, advise grad students and learn to teach your own courses online while at the same time learning to teach your school-age children and keeping them entertained while dealing with everything surging around you. I am moved to think about all the lessons I learned in my own decade of teaching online. In 2008 when I started teaching in the expanding online master’s in GIS&T program at the University of Southern California, I was just as green as all of you. How do I do this???

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GIS&T Body of Knowledge helpful for COVID-19 Related Topics

Are you teaching and learning about mapping diseases and other topics related to COVID-19?  Remember that the GIS&T Body of Knowledge has helpful articles on classification and clusteringkernels and density estimationpoint pattern analysisproblems with scale and zoningstatistical mappingspatiotemporal representationrepresenting uncertaintyepidemiology, and public health, among many others that you might find helpful.  

Online GIS&T Teaching

Rapid responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have left many GIS instructors scrambling to shift to an online educational format with little notice. For those new to the experience, what knowledge can be gained quickly from those who have years of experience?  What's a piece of advice that you might share with your peers at this point in time?

UCGIS part of new National Science Foundation Convergence Accelerator Award

UCGIS is a partner in a $1 million grant from a new interdisciplinary NSF program to foster building an "open knowledge network" for spatial decision support technologies. The inspiration for this type of network comes from Tim Berners-Lee's (best known founder of the World-wide Web) vision for the "semantic web," which applies tags with relationships to information on the Internet, allowing computers to do basic reasoning for improving search results and answering questions. Apple's Siri, Amazon's Alexa, and Google's Assistant all use these technologies.

Individuals from UCGIS’s leadership group are members of a team of 13 researchers and practitioners from 10 different institutions and organizations who are collectively focused on spatial decision support (SDS) systems, a systematic approach that improves access to tools for analyzing geographic data. Despite many successful applications, SDS contributions are limited by challenges in integrating information across complex organizational networks and across an array of data and tools developed for narrow (often disciplinary) applications. The project is being led by PI Sean Gordon, research faculty at Portland State University, which is a UCGIS member institution. "The proliferation of online mapping technologies has greatly increased access to and utility of these kinds of tools, and a logical next step is increasing our ability to find the appropriate data and tools for your problem and link these together for more complex analyses," says Gordon. Through engaging stakeholders in three applied case studies (the management of wildland fire, water quality, and biodiversity conservation), the interdisciplinary project team will develop and test participatory and automated methods for finding and sharing decision-relevant information using semantic web technologies.  

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Set of CaGIS Journal Open-Access articles

Papers in Cartography & Geographic Information Science, available for free (open-access) but only through Thursday, May 31, 2018. Thank you, Taylor and Francis publishers.

  • Marc P. Armstrong (2017) How large is Aroostook County? Exploring the historical mutability of US county area measurements, Cartography and Geographic Information Science, DOI: 10.1080/15230406.2017.1370392
  • Sarah E. Battersby, Daniel “daan” Strebe & Michael P. Finn (2017) Shapes on a plane: evaluating the impact of projection distortion on spatial binning, Cartography and Geographic Information Science, 44:5, 410-421, DOI: 10.1080/15230406.2016.1180263
  • Barry J. Kronenfeld (2018) Manual construction of continuous cartograms through mesh transformation, Cartography and Geographic Information Science, 45:1, 76-94, DOI: 10.1080/15230406.2016.1270775
  • Lawrence V. Stanislawski, Kornelijus Survila, Jeffrey Wendel, Yan Liu & Barbara P. Buttenfield (2018) An open source high-performance solution to extract surface water drainage networks from diverse terrain conditions, Cartography and Geographic Information Science, 45:4, 319-328, DOI: 10.1080/15230406.2017.1337524
  • Waldo Tobler (2018) A new companion for Mercator, Cartography and Geographic Information Science, 45:3, 284-285, DOI: 10.1080/15230406.2017.1308837
  •  Xinyue Ye, Qunying Huang & Wenwen Li (2016) Integrating big social data, computing and modeling for spatial social science, Cartography and Geographic Information Science, 43:5, 377-378, DOI: 10.1080/15230406.2016.1212302

Issues with the Geospatial Data Act of 2017

The Geospatial Data Act of 2017 has been making news in the geospatial community since its introduction in May of this year by Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah. You can find the full text available at  As of early August, the bill had been introduced in the Senate, and referred to the Commerce, Science and Transportation committee.  Earlier this summer the organization NSGIC ( posted on their site that they were supporting the bill and had assisted in drafting some of the language in the text.  The stated goal is focused on strengthening efforts at building the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) and to reduce duplicated efforts by various agencies in authoring geospatial data.  While these are certainly goals that are shared by many in the wider geospatial community (including UCGIS), several organizations, such as COGO and AAG, have noted that some of the language in the bill is unnecessarily vague and may be interpreted to exclude many institutions and individuals currently producing geospatial data for the government.

More specifically, the bill assigns “geospatial data” with the same definition as “survey and mapping” and then provides a very broad use of the definition as it relates to the Geospatial Data Act.  The definition language used in the bill is based on the Brooks Architect-Engineers Act (cite) that requires that work falling under the definitions above are awarded exclusively to A&E firms with professionally licensed staff.

Some examples included in the Geospatial Data Act include:

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new GIS&T Body of Knowledge website

The digital version of the Geographic Information Science & Technology Body of Knowledge (BoK) is now online at! This dynamic, digital platform supports more innovative and applied uses of this knowledge. We have put in place a stable information architecture  combined with robust strategies for content management and curation.The Editorial Team invites subject matter experts with interests in writing or reviewing Topics to contact them.