Geographers have an ongoing concern with the acquisition, manipulation, and representation of spatial data. The widespread adoption of digital technology coupled with management of very large spatial data sets has led to the development of Geographic Information Science. Particularly with respect to digital information, the nature of geographical data that vary with scale, time, and spectral characteristics presents unique problems for geographers and environmental scientists. In our world of massive amounts of information, geographers use remote sensing methods for collecting and integrating geographical data. They utilize cartography and geographic information systems to uncover spatial patterns and trends, to reconstruct past environmental conditions and to predict future scenarios. The use of such methods requires expertise not covered in human and physical geography concentrations. Conceptually, the societal, political and ethical implications of geographic information in policy and decision-making are only beginning to be understood, and this forms an important component of study in geographic information science. The dissemination of geographic knowledge at all levels of education forms another important component of this concentration.
Our program not only provides training in GIS and computer mapping, but is a national leader is Geographic Information Science research and theory. The professional geographer specializing in human or physical geography must realize that spatial data is increasingly collected and archived in digital form. Professional training in geography places increasing emphasis on the understanding of statistical and computing tools for data processing, analysis, and display. Our program has been one of the first to recognize this trend, and to develop the special faculty talents and modern laboratories essential to accommodate this type of training. We train students for a variety of positions in academic, government and private industry careers requiring technical skills in spatial data handling. We also provide opportunities to link GIS training with Geographic Education Our students can learn methods of computer and computer-assisted map production, preparing them for careers in mapping agencies and private mapping firms and publishing houses.