Publication Date

Spring 4-1-2009


COURSE OBJECTIVE: Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is widely used in a range of disciplines, and in public and private sector. Due to its popularity, it is a multibillion dollar global business. In order to be proficient in it, one not only needs to understand the technology, but also the science behind the technology. This course explores a primary research agenda in GIScience, that of GIS and Society. This research agenda explores the interconnected relationship between the society and GIS, and explores the implications and impacts of such a relationship.

Within the GIS and Society body of literature (as highlighted by the University Consortium of Geographic Information Science), the following questions have been raised:

In what ways will GIS actually affect and alter the society it is intended to represent and serve? How can various conceptions and representations of space, not based on traditional map formats or geometric views, be embedded within a GIS? Is GIS more appropriate for some cultures than others? Can GIS be developed to reflect complex and ambiguous perceptions of social and physical space? How will GIS affect the relationships among and within government agencies, and between them and the various citizen groups concerned with the environment, property rights, and advocating the needs of local communities? What are the interpersonal implications of GIS? Can GIS provide citizens with an increased ability to monitor and hold government accountable for proposals and actions? Will GIS provide citizens with an understanding of their rights and interests in land? How accessible will spatial data and related GIS analysis tools be to all parts of society? Can GIS be used to increase participation in public decision making? (

This course aims to answer some of these questions and intends to create a critical awareness of the hidden implications within GIS technology. This course is organized as a seminar, with weekly readings and reflection papers.


Cultural Assimilation, Social Dimensions of Ethical Behavior

Material Type


Research Area

Geographic Information Sciences

Acknowledgement and Disclaimer

This work was supported by National Science Foundation grant # GEO-0734888.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.

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