University of Florida Launches Geodesign Specialty

05-03-2016 09:57 AM
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The Geodesign Summit is meant to inspire. Each year we hunt for presentations and organize couch talks (our form of panel discussions) to ignite interesting conversations that stimulate the grey cells and inspire attendees to try new technology to come up with innovative solutions.


Each year, the Geodesign Summit is held at the Esri Headquarters in Redlands, California.

As an organizer, one of the things that inspires me are the reactions we get from attendees. There is an obvious need for spatial planning both in the government and private sectors, and universities like the University of Florida (UF) are stepping up to meet that demand by offering geodesign courses and degree programs.


Creating new curricula and introducing new degree programs at major universities is challenging. It takes a champion and a lot of perspiration! And Paul Zwick, professor at UF knows a lot about working hard to get things done.

Paul and his colleagues took it upon themselves to develop a Geodesign Specialty​ at UF, available this Fall to anyone pursuing the popular Sustainabilty and the Built Environment major in the College of Design, Construction, and Planning. And there are few professors more qualified than Paul and his colleagues to take geodesign principals and put them into practice.


UF has been doing geodesign for over 20 years. The publication of Smart Land-Use Analysis: The LUCIS Model (2007), written by Paul Zwick and Margaret Carr, was one of the first publications to lay out a geodesign process for land use planning. The recent publication Advanced Land-Use Analysis for Regional Geodesign: Using LUCISplus, co-authored again by Paul Zwick, revamps the original and cements UF's reputation as a center for geodesign.

24332221264_5ba92c6ed4_z.jpgIris Patten, co-author of Advanced Land-Use Analysis for Regional Geodesign book, presents 

LUCIS Plus as a spatial planning tool for evaluating areas of potential conflict and opportunity.

UF also has the GeoPlan Center, a self funded GIS consulting program focused on  land use, transportation, and environmental planning in the State of Florida. They host tons of GIS data for the entire State of Florida and assist many communities in their planning efforts.

The Geodesign Advantage

Since 2010, interest from students, teachers, and universities has continued to grow, and with each year we see more universities starting geodesign programs in the US and around the world.

Is getting a geodesign degree or emphasis practical? I'd say yes. I've talked with many employers, from Jacobs Engineering to HDR to Stantec, who are looking for graduates with geodesign skills they can apply to community planning.

So if you like GIS, but are undecided, take advantage of the opportunity at UF and add it as a geodesign specialty to your sustainability major. You have great, dedicated professors, who've published geodesign books and created geodesign tools, and you'll have ample opportunity to practice doing geodesign on real world projects.

Plan this right, and you can build your resume while getting your degree! Oh, and did I mention it's in Florida?

(The next Geodesign Summit is scheduled for January 25-26, 2017 in lovely Redlands, California at the Esri Headquarters, 380 New York St. Mark your calendars now!)

About the Author
Geodesign advocate, geographer, writer, musician. Interested in designing livable, sustainable, resilient communities. Currently, I'm the Industry Manager for Community Development at Esri, covering geodesign, urban and regional planning, economic development, sustainable development, and smart cities.