Department of Environmental Studies, Huxley College of the Environment at WWU
ESTU 401 covers the theory and use of geographic information systems (GIS) within the context of socio-environmental planning and policy. It combines an overview of general principles of GIS and practical experience in the analytical use of spatial information, covering both raster and vector processing. The course does not cover remote sensing technologies in any depth. The course adopts a topical focus of disaster risk assessment. Disaster risk assessment requires manipulation and analysis of both social and natural systems data—quantitative and qualitative data—and presents opportunities to do service learning with planning and policy agencies. The course is intended as a way for policy and planning students to add GIS techniques to their methodological toolkit. The lectures provide a comprehensive overview of the analytical treatment of geographic information consistent with ring diagram definition of GIS shown below, in addition to a few lectures on issues of urban planning and policy analysis for disaster risk reduction. The practical component of the course involves the use of ESRI’s ArcGIS 9.x to prepare and analyze social, political, and environmental (tabular and spatial) data (exercises) to facilitate a self-guided project. The course is interspersed with discussion events to connect the practical material to lecture concepts and broader practice. WWU’s Blackboard course management tool will be used to provide lecture notes, exercise materials, discussion materials and resources for learning about geographic information and analysis. ESTU 401 is decidedly not a software training course. It seeks to build critical thinking about complicated choices involving the use of geographic information systems for planning and policy analysis purposes.