Introduction to GIS

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Spring 2018
Credits per quarter

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Taught by

Geographic Information Systems (GIS), field deployment, workflow analysis

This course will teach students how to use the versatile technology of Geographic Information Systems (GIS).  GIS is more than map-making.  A GIS integrates computer hardware, software, and data for capturing, managing, analyzing, and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information across a wide variety of disciplines. GIS technology is increasingly used by physical and social scientists, policy makers, businesses, environmental and conservation organizations, utilities, public health providers, the military, and educators, to name a few.  More and more organizations are using spatial data and analysis to help them make decisions relating to acceptable land uses, allocation of resources and assets, fairness and social wellbeing, and many other needs. Instruction will rely strongly on weekly hands-on labs and homework exercises to guide students through a public policy decision process from beginning to end over the duration of the quarter.  Students will learn to manage spatial data and tools, mainly using the Esri suite of software commonly known as ArcGIS. No previous experience with GIS is required.  Student versions of the ArcGIS software suite will be made available for home use (but technical support is limited to college computers).

Faculty Biography
Michael Ruth, M.Sc., is a professional GIS practitioner for Esri (Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc).  Mike has been a project manager and consultant for Esri, helping a wide variety of agencies learn and exploit geographic information systems.  His clients have included major non governmental organizations, tribal and state governments, and US federal agencies.  Mike studied Environmental Science in college, later specializing in Geology at George Washington University.  For his Masters degree, Mike completing a field mapping project studying the geology of the western Dominican Republic along the Haiti border area.  After completing his Master of Science degree, Mike worked for the Spot Image Corporation, developing GeoTIFF and other satellite imagery methods for GIS integration.  Now at Esri, Mike has focused on Africa projects for non-profit organizations over the past few years.  Recent projects address the applications of GIS technology for improving polio vaccination success in Nigeria, agricultural improvement for small holder farmers in Tanzania, and participatory community conservation activities in the western Serengeti, among other projects.

Online learning:
  • Hybrid Online Learning - This offering delivers 25 - 49% of its instruction online, rather than via face-to-face contact between you and your instructors.

Scheduled for: Evening

Located in: Olympia

Final schedule and room assignment:


Advertised schedule:

Monday 6-10 pm