A half-day workshop on GIS in Environmental Science

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02-06-2020 10:55 AM
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Esri Frequent Contributor
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I developed a GIS workshop for environmental science university students that you might wish to use portions of or in its entirety in your own instruction.  The workshop can be covered in a half day, but ideally is a full day; or it could be parsed into several standard class periods. 

The workshop is designed to:
1. Develop knowledge and skills in geotechnologies focusing on environmental applications: GIS, remote sensing, and
GPS/GNSS, technical skills and foundational underpinnings, cloud and SaaS data sources and formats, multimedia, data quality; projections, symbolizing, georeferencing, measurement, classification, databases, and mobile workflows.
2. Develop workforce awareness of pathways in environmental careers that use GIS and how to prepare for them.
3. Develop confidence that you can use these skills and perspectives to move forward with your own career.

I state the workshop philosophy at the beginning of the instruction:

• This is your workshop. Let me know how we can help you today and in the future as you use geotechnologies.
• Using geotechnologies effectively is a journey that will require building a network with your colleagues.
• We will not work with every GIS tool and data set but we will build a foundation so that you will be empowered and feel confident.
• The activities include core themes and skills that can be used in many aspects of environmental work.

The workshop uses the following tools:  ArcGIS Online, web mapping applications such as Dashboards and Storymaps, Survey123 field data collection tool.  For more advanced work, there are links to ArcGIS Pro and Insights. 


The workshop includes the exploration of data from local to global scale, including ecoregions, river systems, population change, historical and current satellite imagery, human health, weather and climate, and natural hazards.  The field activity involves gathering tree type, height, species, and condition on whatever campus you happen to be teaching in. 

Underlying the workshop are the following themes:

(1)  Geotechnologies are critically important tools in environmental science to build a healthier, more sustainable future.

(2)  Geotechnologies are essential tools for your environmental career:  They enable you to apply your environmental skills and knowledge and contribute to the work that nonprofits, government agencies, private industry, and academia is using everyday.

(3)  Modern cloud-enabled GIS tools and spatial data mean that it is easier than ever to learn how to apply GIS to solve problems. 

The attached document contains the workflow and all the links for the workshop to be successful.  I hope this resource is useful. 

Environmental science images and maps

About the Author
I believe that spatial thinking can transform education and society through the application of Geographic Information Systems for instruction, research, administration, and policy. I hold 3 degrees in Geography, have served at NOAA, the US Census Bureau, and USGS as a cartographer and geographer, and teach a variety of F2F (Face to Face) (including T3G) and online courses. I have authored a variety of books and textbooks about the environment, STEM, GIS, and education. These include "Interpreting Our World", "Essentials of the Environment", "Tribal GIS", "The GIS Guide to Public Domain Data", "International Perspectives on Teaching and Learning with GIS In Secondary Education", "Spatial Mathematics" and others. I write for 2 blogs, 2 monthly podcasts, and a variety of journals, and have created over 5,000 videos on the Our Earth YouTube channel. Yet, as time passes, the more I realize my own limitations and that this is a lifelong learning endeavor and thus I actively seek mentors and collaborators.