GEOG 586
Geographic Information Analysis

Geographic Information Analysis


Quick Facts


In this data rich world, we need to understand how things are organized on the Earth's surface. Those features are represented by spatial data and necessarily depend upon what surrounds them. This is a course in analytical methods for handling specifically spatial data, that is, data where the arrangement of observations in space is thought to be of significance. The techniques introduced are often mathematically complex, but while these aspects are covered in the course, the emphasis is on the choice and application of appropriate methods for the analysis of the spatial data often encountered in applied geography. Weekly projects are hands-on, using geographic information systems or other appropriate computational tools, so that students appreciate the practical complexities involved, and the relative limitations of these methods in contemporary desktop GIS.

Through the weekly projects, students acquire familiarity with use of a single method or family of methods in standard desktop tools, so that they can focus on aspects of that method and develop a thorough understanding of its potential and of its limitations. Problem scenarios range across demographic, planning, crime analysis, landscape analysis, and other application areas. The term-long project is intended to allow students to formulate a research problem in a topic area of their own choosing, to gather and organize appropriate available datasets, and to understand how a variety of methods among those covered in the course can be applied in combination to thoroughly explore real questions. Students will be asked to engage with their peers' work during the project planning stage. They will also be encouraged to consider developing customized tools to automate repetitive analysis tasks, if they have previous programming experience.

Geography 586 is a required course for Penn State's Online Master of GIS. This section is being offered to students around the globe through Penn State's World Campus.

Learn more about GEOG 586, Geographic Information Analysis (1 min, 12sec)

Click here for a transcript of the course introduction.

FRITZ KESSLER: Oh, hello! I was just taking care of some important reading. For decades, geographers have been interested in mapping patterns of phenomena on earth's surface. Yet until the 1960's, geographers could not identify those patterns or explain the significance of those patterns. The quantitative revolution changed all that in geography. By quantitative I mean mathematics, and by mathematics, I mean statistics. Diseases, wars, climate change, in fact every facet of humanity and nature create patterns on earth's surface. Statistics in spatial analysis allows not only the patterns to be identified, but also explain the processes that creates those patterns. The most powerful aspect of being a geographer is coupling statistics and spatial analysis with the ability to explain the significance of those patterns. Geographic information analysis will allow you to do just that. Now, back to my reading.

Credit: © Penn State is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Want to join us? Students who register for this Penn State course gain access to assignments and instructor feedback and earn academic credit. For more information, visit Penn State's Online Geospatial Education Program website. Official course descriptions and curricular details can be reviewed in the University Bulletin.

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