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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Timothy L. Nyerges
GEOG 462
Seattle Campus

Coastal Geographic Information Systems

Combines lectures about fundamental concepts in geographic information systems with hands-on computer lab assignments about coastal environment-society issues. Coastal feature data measurement, characterization, and movement related to the land-water and environment society dynamic. Prerequisite: GEOG 360.

Class description

Geography 462 is an intermediate course that examines the theory and application of geographic information systems (GIS). It combines an overview of general principles of geographic information science and practical experience in the analytical processing and use of geospatial information with GIS.

Student learning goals

Understand the challenges, intellectual benefits and costs of integrated data processing strategies with GIS, particularly within landscape contexts of water resource and coastal region management and sustainability issues. These strategies include (but are not limited to) problem definition, database design, data collection, data structuring, data analysis, and information presentation.

Master the use of several GIS data processing strategies as applied through hands-on use of GIS software to complete laboratory assignments as practice in critical enquiry.

Experience the process of working in groups in order to encourage a broader and deeper understanding about the value of using geographic information to address complex geographic issues within a context of a pluralistic society, i.e., a society that mediates multi-valued interests for overall improvement.

General method of instruction

The lectures introduce students to the analytical treatment of geographic information using several frameworks for understanding data, software operations, and systems. The course adopts a thematic focus on coastal concerns in the Puget Sound Region. Coastal is defined as the watershed basins that drain into Puget Sound as well as the water of Puget Sound; the idea being that both raster and vector data models are treated. Over one-half the US population lives in only 17% of the land area along coasts. Several readings that support both GIS concepts and coastal concepts are made available through .pdf on a password protected web site. Students work with many of these concepts and skills in laboratory assignments, discussion sessions and a final project undertaken in student teams. Lab assignments take place in the Geography Department's Sherman Lab (Smith 401) as hands on experience with ESRI's ArcGIS. The lab assignments, and particularly the final project, require additional hours of work outside of the lab session according to the U of Washington guidelines that 2 hours of outside work are expected for every hour of class time. In the lecture and the labs we make use of a coastal data model developed as an integration of the ArcMarine and ArcHydro data models to investigate interaction of the terrestrial and marine environments of coastal areas. The dynamic (i.e. change) about terrestrial and marine/estuarine environments is an important underlying theme of the course. Students are expected to participate in discussion sessions on a diverse range of pertinent geographic information topics and applications. Web resources will provide lecture notes, lab assignment materials, case study materials and sources for geographic data and analysis at UW and around the world.

Recommended preparation

Geography 360

Class assignments and grading

Computer laboratory assignments. See

- Exam 1 - short answer essay questions, 100 points, 25% of final grade.

- Exam 2 - short answer essay questions, 100 points, 25% of final grade.

- Six lab assignments with an increasing percentage of points across the quarter, total 150 points, 37.5% of final grade.

- Final project: 1) scoping - 10 points, 2) presentation 10 points, and 3) report - 30 points, total 50 points 12.5% of final grade.

- Peer evaluation learning assessment for final project; final project will not be graded unless submitted.

The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional information on course home page
Last Update by Timothy L. Nyerges
Date: 11/04/2010