THE GEOGRAPHER'S CRAFT,
Preliminary Schedule (Subject to
Week, Topic, and Assignments
January 18: Introduction
Topics and tasks: Introduction to course. Develop plans for the first project: water use and the Edward's
Aquifer. This project will involve the creation of a GIS database from scratch.
January 23: Project Planning and Lifecycle, and
Topics and tasks: Introduce the steps employed to develop effective GIS projects. Discuss project
lifecycle and stress importance of needs assessment and prototype projects. Begin aquifer project with
digitizing warmup exercise.
January 30: System Design
Topics and tasks: Consider issues involved in translating system needs into the design of a GIS database.
Finish first digitizing exercise. Begin digitizing map coverages for first project.
February 6: Database Concepts and Design
Topics and tasks: Consider the database as a representation or model of reality. Discuss the process of
abstraction and modeling. Consider how information can be encoded in flat, hierarchical, and relational
databases. Review methods by which properties such as topology can be modeled in a GIS dataset.
February 13: Map Projections and Datum Use
Topics and tasks: Discuss the steps involved in of map projection and the major compromises involved in
representing three-dimensional reality in two-dimensional maps. Introduce the basic vocabulary and how
cartographic needs are related to widely-used projections. Discuss datum use and the situations in which
it warrants special attention.
February 20: Locational Reference Systems
Topics and tasks: Review of major land survey and reference systems employed in the United States and
Texas. Address difficulties of drawing information from different sources.
February 27: Data Sources and Conversion
Topics and tasks: Consider the availability of GIS and statistical data sources, both paper and digital and
the way the situation is changing. Address problems of conversion and issues of documentation. First
project due. Begin setup for terrain modeling exercise.
March 6: Contour Mapping
Topics and tasks: Introduce principles of contour mapping. Overview strengths and limitations of
various interpolation algorithms. First exam on Friday.
March 13: Spring Break
March 20: Terrain Modeling
Topics and tasks: Consider methods for three-dimensional modeling. Touch on other issues of
three-dimensional reconstruction and rendering.
March 27: GIS in Large Organizations
Topics and tasks: Consider the human dimension in developing and implementing information
technologies like GIS. Finish terrain modeling exercise. Begin final projects.
April 3: Local, State, and Federal GIS Policy
Topics and tasks: Consider how GIS is being implemented at the local, state, and federal levels. Examine
common problems arising from attempts at implementation and integration. Discuss some of the policy
initiatives being pursued at the state and federal levels.
April 10: International GIS and Managing Large
Topics and tasks: Survey ways in which GIS is being employed in global science stressing both the
potential and problems of these projects. Discuss some of the problems that arise from managing and
maintaining very large GIS datasets.
April 17: Economic, Legal, and Ethical Issues
Topics and tasks: Examine situations in which GIS and information technology intersect the law.
Consider some of the ethical problems that arise from the use and misuse of information technology,
including the issue of privacy.
April 24: Trends in GIS Technologies
May 1: Presentations of Final Projects
May 16 (Tuesday) Final Exam 2:00- 5:00 PM. Final
Project (datasets and documentation) due by 10:00
Fifty percent of your final course grade will be based on two major exercises (20% for
first project and 30% for final project), forty percent on two short exams (mid-term and
final), and ten percent on a terrain modeling exercise.