GIS and Sustainability: Project based Introductory GIS Course Curriculum

GIS and Sustainability: Project based Introductory GIS Course Curriculum
An introductory level GIS course was modified to incorporate a sustainability focused term project. Students in the class learn the basics of GIS through lectures, intense classroom discussions, and structured laboratory exercises. Incorporating a term project requirement is an effective way for students to gain valuable experience in project development, management, completion and presentation. During the fall of 2009, the students and the instructors worked closely with various sustainability council members, facilities managers, and administrative officials to identify areas of need where GIS can help address campus sustainability initiatives. At this time, Furman University was going through the process of developing strategies to collect baseline data relating to campus sustainability, to estimate its carbon footprint, and to effectively visualize some of the complex data as necessitated by Furman’s sustainability master plan. Results were used by the Furman Sustainability council in their study of cost and benefits of achieving carbon neutrality. The pedagogical challenges in conducting a course with 16 different term projects include data availability, instructor time, and compromise on course content. Under these circumstances, extra care needs to be taken in every step of the project to make sure data is handled appropriately, and the assumptions and analysis procedures used are sound.

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Amelie Davis, Furman University
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