Introduction to GIS

Eileen johnson

Bowdoin College
Private four-year institution, primarily undergraduate


This course introduces concepts of cartography, database management, and spatial analysis. The productive use of GIS technology in the physical and social sciences, environmental management, and regional planning is investigated through a variety of applied exercises and problems culminating in a semester project that addresses a specific environmental application.

Course URL:
Course Size:

less than 15

Course Context:

This is an introductory course with no-prerequisites. It is an elective for both the Environmental Studies and Earth Ocean Systems departments.

Course Goals:

Students will become familiar with the different formats of spatial data
Students will develop a working knowledge of GIS software (ArcGIS)
Students will be able to design and carry out a community based project using GIS
Students will analyze spatial data and learn techniques for effective cartographic techniques for display of spatial data
Students will be able to collect data in a range of formats, import and edit data into a spatial database
Students will analyze data based upon spatial location and attribute data

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

This course enables students to become conversant in GIS for the purpose of applying the discipline to a community based or research project.

Skills Goals

Think critically about spatial data
Understand how spatial data informs community based research

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

Students complete tutorials independently on GIS. As part of class time, students complete related independent lab assignments that require them to think independently and apply principles to case studies. These case studies are components of their overall semester long projects.

Attitudinal Goals

develop students' abilities to work with community partners and understand how spatial data can help organizations and communities think more strategically

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

Students work directly with community partners to identify a spatial question and then present the final results at the completion of their project. Students are also required to meet periodically to refine the spatial analysis.


Students are assessed through exams, the completion of six lab exercises, posting of discussion board reflections on related readings and the completion of a final project. The final project includes a cartographic output, data, a powerpoint presentation, and a report that summarized the process and results of the analysis.


Introduction to GIS (Microsoft Word 51kB May27 10)