The Geographer's Craft, GRG 859A and GRG 859B

Kenneth E. Foote, Instructor

Office Hours: 10-11 MWF in GRG 302, E-mail:

Joy Adams, Teaching Assistant

Office Hours: 1-2 W and 10-11 F in GRG 302, E-mail:

On this page: Overview | Grading | Lab and Team Meetings | Textbooks | Required Supplies | Individually Funded Computer Accounts | Electronic Mail Addresses | Laboratory Access and Use |

Related pages: Fall Schedule | Spring Schedule | Lecture and Discussion Notes | Research Problems and Warmup Exercises | Geographer's Craft Homepage | UC Geography Homepage | UC Homepage |


The Geographer's Craft is an experimental course designed to provide you with the best possible introduction to modern geographical research techniques. It takes a new, integrated approach to training in geographical techniques, an approach based on a problem-oriented synthesis of methods drawn from cartography, geographical information systems, spatial analysis, remote sensing, and field methods. Rather than teaching these methods as separate and independent techniques, The Geographer's Craft is designed to show how geographers employ these techniques together, in concert and as needed, to address real-world research issues.

 The Geographer's Craft project is designed as a two-semester, eight-credit course (Geography 859A and 859B). Each semester, 2-3 research problems will be presented in class. Each of these will emphasize the range and types of problems geographers address, relevant literatures, and traditional and contemporary approaches to particular issues, including the latest techniques in automated mapping and geographic information systems. The issues are selected so that they raise a variety of technical and methodological problems that can be discussed and solved in the context of interesting, real-life research problems. In this way, you will learn by experience how geographers gather and weigh evidence about natural and human processes, employ maps and databases to represent and model real-life situations, analyze spatial, temporal, and functional relationships, and communicate findings cartographically and graphically and in written and spoken presentations. Stress is placed on analytical reasoning and how such reasoning is supported by the use of computers and information technology.

 The course materials for The Geographer's Craft have been developed into hypermedia format as an on-line "electronic" textbook in the Worldwide Web. Although this work is not yet complete, you will receive many of your course materials through the Web. The course does not assume previous experience with GIS technologies or the Internet, but experience with Windows is a prerequisite. The course is built around lectures, discussion and, of course, hands-on laboratory experience. The research problems will make use of many popular mapping, statistical, image processing, and GIS systems on several different types of computer. Use of this variety of systems will allow you to gain the methodological and technical versatility and adaptability that will be of value to you in your future professional work.



Your course grade will be based on three research projects (each 25% of your final grade) and a set of approximately five warm-up exercises and quizzes (25% total or about 5% per exercise). The projects are 1) a campaign strategy report for the next Texas governor's race; 2) a cartographic study of cholera in Peru; 3) a Web project on a geographical topic yet to be announced.


Your final grade will be based on: 1) A set of CAD and animation exercises using Microstation (30%); 2) A WebGIS project (30%); A final independent project presented in class and in the Web (30%); and 4) Class and lab participation and attendance (10%).

The set of CAD and animation exercises (30%) includes:  A) Your Village; B) Favorite Place; C) Greytown rendering and animation; D) Gif animation.

It is my policy in all my classes to penalize with course failure anyone who engages in "academic dishonesty." Academic dishonesty includes, among other offenses, plagiarism of the writing of others, cheating on exams, falsification and fabrication of data, and submitting the assignments or papers of others as your own.  

Team and Lab Meetings

The class will be divided into teams to work on exercises and prepare material for class. Each team will meet with a teaching assistant for at least an hour every week. Team membership and schedules for meetings will be established during the first week of class. 


There are no required textbooks for this course.  Most of the notes and materials we will study are linked from the Geographer's Craft homepage at: http://www.Colorado.EDU/geography/gcraft/contents.html .  Some additional readings will be made available on reserve in the EISLaboratory. However, there are good sources of information if you would like to study some topics in more detail or if you feel you need extra help mastering ArcView.

Optional Textbooks on Research Techniques and Expository Cartography:

  1. Leedy, Paul E. 1997.  Practical Research: Planning and Design, 6th ed.  Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.  URL:

  3. Monmonier, Mark. 1993. Mapping It Out: Expository Cartography for the Humanties and Social Sciences. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Optional Textbooks on ArcView:
  1. Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI).  1999.  Getting to Know ArcView GIS 3.1. Redlands, CA: ESRI Press. This book comes with a trial copy of ArcView and a discount coupon for purchasing ArcView.

  3. Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI).  1999.  Getting to Know ArcView GIS 3.1. An online course offered through ESRI's Virtual Campus. Visit the Virtual Campus ( at ESRI for more information.  If you register for this or other courses you are provided with an instructional copy of ArcView.

  5. Hutchinson, Scott and Larry Daniel.  1996.  Inside ArcView GIS, 2nd ed.  Sante Fe, NM: OnWord Press.  URL:

Optional Textbooks on HTML Publishing

Most of the information you need to publish in the Web is available online or will be introduced in class.  There are however dozens of excellent HTML guides available commercially.  Browse around online or in a bookstore for one that fits your needs.

Books can usually be ordered directly from the publishers' Web pages or you may wish to comparison shop among Web bookstores such as or

Required Supplies

During the course of the semester you will need to purchase $20-50 in computer supplies for the laboratory exercises. You will need to buy at least one box (10) of 3.5" high-density (1.44MB) diskettes and a ZIP disk. These need to be purchased immediately for use in the second week of class. You may also have to share the cost of ink cartridges for the Hewlett-Packard inkjet printers, but these do not need to be purchased immediately. 

Individually Funded Computer Accounts

You should establish an Individually Funded computer account with ACITS so that you can print documents from the Student Microcomputer Facility at FAC and from other locations on campus and pay for Telesys service if you will be using the Web from home. 

Electronic Mail Addresses

You will be assigned an account on the Laboratory's Windows NT network during the second week of class. You should also establish electronic "mailbox" for yourself through the University's free University Mailbox Service (UMBS). You can register your e-mail address from any computer in the lab. Please be sure to memorize your e-mail address and password. 

Laboratory Access and Use

The course requires you to spend time working in the department's computer lab (room 302). These are open weekdays from 8:15 AM to 9:00 PM (MTWTh), 8:15-4:45 (F), 9:00-5:00 (Saturdays), except when other classes and seminars are using the lab. (Evening and weekend hours begin during the second week of class.) You should plan to spend at least 4-5 hours in the laboratory every week, sometimes more. If your other work and study commitments prevent this, you may wish to reconsider enrolling in this course. Please study the guidelines for using the computer laboratory which are available online.  A copy of these guidelines is posted in room 302. These rules will be enforced strictly during the semester and their violation will result in loss of laboratory privileges.

Last revised 2000.3.27. LNC.