Publication Date

Winter 1-1-2009


Professionalism in today's geographic information science field (e.g., GIS, remote sensing, cartography, quantitative spatial analysis), now involves a commitment to ethical practice as informed by a more sophisticated understanding of the ethical implications of geographic technologies. For example, the use of GIS for military and surveillance purposes, the lack of privacy introduced by mobile mapping devices, and the use (misuse?) of GIS for conservation and sustainability continue to be challenging issues and topics of deep concern for many. Students and professionals working with GIS and related technologies should develop a sound grasp of these issues and a thorough comprehension of the concerns impacting their use and development in today's world. However, while most people agree that ethics matters for GIS, we often have difficulty putting ethical issues into practice.

This seminar seeks to bridge this gap by providing a sound basis for future ethical consideration of a variety of issues. Students will first investigate the nature of professions in general and the characteristics of a GIS profession in particular. They will hone moral reasoning skills through methodical analyses of case studies in relation to the GIS Code of Ethics and Rules of Conduct. They will also learn to unveil the "moral ecologies" of a profession through actual interviews with real practitioners in the field. Assignments will include readings, class discussions, practitioner interviews, and preparations of original case studies.

The seminar is part of an ongoing project supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and in collaboration with similar courses now in progress at Penn State University and the University of Minnesota. See if interested in the NSF project.

This offering of GEO 599 will be accepted as an elective in the geographic information science (GIScience) concentration within the geography M.S. and Ph.D. degree programs or as an elective for GIScience certificates.

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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