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Geography & GIS Courses


Want to get a better feel for how things work in the world or simply enhance your employability with state of the art GIS technology skills?  Check out our wide variety of Geography courses!

LIBERAL ARTS AND A.S. GEOGRAPHY/GIS COURSES

Physical Geography (3 Credits) Geography 1101
World Regional Geography (3 Credits) Geography 1104
Cultural Geography (3 Credits) Geography 1108
Weather & Climate (4 Credits) Geography 1300

GIS PROFESSIONAL CERTIFICATE COURSES (Completely Online!)

Map Use, Analysis & Interpretation (3 Credits) Geography 1201
Principles of Geographic Information Science (3 Credits) Geography 1204
Cartography (3 Credits) Geography 1206
Modeling Techniques in GIS (3 Credits) Geography 2104
Remote Sensing & Image Interpretation (3 Credits) Geography 2107
GIS Applications (1 Credit) Geography 2113
GIS Internship (1 to 3 Credits) Geography 2201

SPECIAL OFFERINGS—DEPENDENT ON INTEREST/ENROLLMENT

Global Positioning Systems (GPS) (1 Credit) Geography 1200
Data Acquisition GIS (2 Credits) Geography 2001
Database Management GIS (2 Credits) Geography 2002


 

Physical Geography (3 credits) Geography 1101

In 2010 in Haiti, over 300,000 people lost their lives in one of the most devastating earthquakes in recorded history--why do earthquakes occur where they do and how can humans prepare for them?  Why do tsunami strike some coastal areas but not others?  Are wildfires really wild and disastrous or are we simply in the path of naturally occurring fires?  Are floods and storm surges predictable and if so, are we learning how to work with naturally occurring environmental processes? How can the tropical rainforests be the lushest places on earth yet have some of the most infertile soils?  Physical Geography is the study of landscapes and processes and how humans benefit from and adapt to them.  Emphasis is placed on understanding natural events such as volcanic eruptions, floods, landslides, thunderstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes and wildfires and the human response in the face of natural disasters.    

World Regional Geography (3 credits) Geography 1104

Are there any conditions that justify the killing of hundreds of thousands of people--just because we don’t like them—and did you know this has happened…more than once? And if we have so much food, why are people still starving? How is technology making the world “smaller” for some, but not for others?  Who are these people who are perfectly content living on Mongongo nuts and willing to go without texting and the World Wide Web? In the face of rapid globalization, places have become increasingly interdependent, and we are facing new and complex challenges that are reshaping local and regional geography. World Regional Geography is an exploratory course, offering insights to both physical and cultural geography in various places across the world.  Focus will be given to exploring the similarities and differences that face these regions in areas such as population growth, economics, environment, political systems, and cultural ideology. The course also will cover the basics in reading and interpreting information presented on maps. Topics vary as the world continues to unfold.

Cultural Geography (3 credits) Geography 1108

What is the relationship between Coos Bay, Oregon and the Powder River Basin, Wyoming and why should you care if you don’t live there?  Why are people moving to Noonan, ND and Brooks, Alberta and how is it changing life there for long-time residents?  What is the connection between the fruit we eat and the lives of growers in Jamaica?  Is there really a place on the “south side of the (railroad) tracks” and who lives there?  Why do boundaries create benefits and problems for us?  How does access to (or lack of) transportation options enhance or diminish economic development?   Cultural Geography is the study of people and places and the interactions between humans and their environment. As a sub-discipline of Geography, the field studies spatial patterns of population, migration, cultural identity, economic development, agriculture, politics, urbanization, nature and technology. We seek to understand how humans, with all our unique identities, adapt to our environments, leave our mark on landscapes and examine how we are connected to each other—over distances—and importantly—why this matters.

Weather & Climate (4 credits) Geography 1300

I’m going on vacation to New Zealand in March…is it going to be hot and humid or should I bring my ski gear?  We are expecting 10”-14” of snow this weekend—how do weather forecasters know that? Why doesn’t the United States have a desert like the Sahara?  Why does it rain over 125 inches in Hilo, HI but only 25” in Kona, HI if they are only 50 miles apart?  Is there really a hole in the ozone and does that mean I should wear sunscreen? Why are fish absent from some New York lakes and what does this have to do with the climate?  Is the climate really changing and are humans to blame? What are we going to do if the sea level rises 3 feet?  Weather and Climate is the study of the atmosphere and its relationship to humans as it benefits and challenges our lives. Attention is given to investigating the interactions between humans and their environment in the areas of global warming, acid deposition, ozone depletion, monsoon geography, and their impacts to global hydrologic cycles, soils and terrestrial biomes.

Map Use, Analysis & Interpretation (3 credits) Geography 1201

When the map indicates you should be standing in a “forest”, why are there no trees?  How steep is it going to get before the trail reaches the camping site?  O.K.—just how big is Greenland anyway and why do we have to keep asking that question? Can I be in 5 different time zones at once?  Why does the Columbia River look different on different maps…isn’t it the exact same river?  Maps have become the cornerstone for applications in numerous disciplines not limited to urban and regional planning, natural resources and engineering. Many major private corporations and governmental units produce and use maps to accomplish their objectives. Map Use, Analysis and Interpretation will help you learn how to understand and gather information from different types of maps. We use mapping technologies that are freely available to the public as well as GIS software. We will explore a wide variety of maps, their various formats, the principles governing mapping systems and mapping techniques. Emphasis is placed on reading, analyzing and interpreting information presented on maps.

Principles of Geographic Information Science (3 credits) Geography 1204

What is the zoning for an area and is a proposed variance compatible with existing and planned land uses?   What land uses surround a polluted lake?  How might future development impact existing natural areas?  Are there more burglaries in low income or high income neighborhoods?  Where are there gaps in dedicated bike routes across the community? Where have forest fires burned—how big were they and what vegetation types fueled the fires?  Where is a grizzly bear spending its time eating and sleeping?  At what ocean depths do blue whales appear to feed? Principles of GIS examines some advantages and limitations of using technology for mapping.  Emphasis is placed on learning GIS fundamentals, using ESRI's ArcGIS 10.x software.  Students will learn how to use a GIS to investigate a variety of human and environmental issues, and will complete an independent project.  The course establishes a sound working knowledge of GIS and prepares students for advanced GIS coursework. 

Cartography (3 credits) Geography 1206

Do you know you’ve been lied to over and over again?  Maps are representations of reality and there are many stories they tell…but there are also “untold” stories.  How have maps misled you…do you even know?  Who is using all the water in America…and how can you show that on a map?  Where do hazardous areas overlap in space… and how can you effectively portray that on a map? Creating a map is easy…creating an interesting map with a purpose and a clear and relevant message is a skill.  Cartography allows students to investigate various uses and construction of maps. Emphasis is given to reading, interpreting and critically evaluating the information presented on maps, the collection and statistical manipulation of data sets, and the design and drafting of a wide variety of thematic maps and graphs. Students will learn the concepts and techniques of cartography through a series of practical map exercises, using a GIS. They will also develop and publish course maps in online environments. Prerequisite: Principles of GIS.

Modeling Techniques in GIS (3 credits) Geography 2104

How can the general public be involved in the assessment of land use proposals managed within a GIS—if they have no GIS experience? How can a high voltage power line be routed to avoid scenic areas? Where is the best location to build a new hospital?  Where are areas that sinkhole hazards are expected to become more common?  Will the open pit mine be visible from the visitor’s center?   Which lands should be acquired to preserve biological diversity of a community/region?  What is the shortest route between the timber sale and the mill? In which direction (and how far/how fast) are invasive species expected to spread?  Modeling Techniques in GIS seeks to answer questions using geospatial data and analysis.  This course will build upon the foundation of concepts learned in previous GIS courses offered at Itasca Community College and introduce a variety of techniques for spatial/tabular data evaluation and analytical modeling. After surveying a variety of modeling scenarios, students will have the option of developing their own GIS modeling project.  What questions do you have?  Prerequisite: Principles of GIS.

Remote Sensing & Image Interpretation (3 credits) Geography 2107

Did you know you can tell how healthy vegetation is, the degree of sediment in the water, where dust storms are headed and rates of deforestation—all from space?  Satellite imagery and aerial photography continues to support a variety of disciplines such as urban and regional planning, agriculture, geology, natural resources and environmental sciences to capture and evaluate the areal extents and spatial associations of features distributed on the Earth's surface. Remote Sensing & Image Interpretation will help you better understand the variety of systems and analytical techniques used to interpret satellite imagery and aerial photography within a GIS. As a whole, the course encompasses a broad range of ideas from electromagnetic radiation, principles/use of different sensors, cameras, films, scanners, interpretation and land use mapping, and the integration of remotely sensed data within geographic information systems. Learn how to speak about remote sensing with confidence! Prerequisite: Principles of GIS.

GIS Applications (1 credit) Geography 2113

After all this GIS exploring, no doubt you’ll have some “unfinished business”.  There was a project you worked on in class, but wanted to do more.  You have a friend or client that needs some GIS expertise that you can develop a product for.  You want to develop a portfolio of your work accomplishments.  GIS Applications is designed to provide students with the opportunity to initiate, plan, manage, implement and critique a GIS application as a capstone experience. Topics will be chosen and directed by students in consultation with the instructor.  Prerequisite: Principles of GIS and instructor approval.

GIS Internship (1-3 credits) Geography 2201

This is your opportunity to make a positive impression on a prospective employer while acquiring important, relevant and applicable work experience and professional references.  In the GIS Internship, you’ll be expected to seek placement within a professional setting and apply the knowledge, skills and abilities you’ve acquired in the program to assist in real world applications of GIS activity which meet the employer’s goals. For those students who are completing the GIS Professional Certificate only, Geography 2113 (GIS Applications) is provided an alternative course option. Prerequisite: 12 credits of completed GIS coursework in good standing and instructor approval.

Global Positioning Systems (GPS) (1 credit) Geography 1200

Want to learn more about GPS technology and how to use a GPS unit?  Learn how to find coordinates, navigate to/from locations, collect and display data you’ve collected within a GIS.  Global Positioning Systems is designed to provide an introductory experience using global positioning systems (GPS) technology. The objective is to show some applications of the technology for GIS mapping purposes. Requires the purchase of a recreational grade GPS unit and accessory for transferring data between the GPS unit and a GIS.

Data Acquisition GIS (2 credits) Geography 2001

How do agencies collect the information they need to show where horse riding and snowmobile trails are located or where hunting and fishing are permitted and prohibited?  When parcels are subdivided, how is ownership, zoning, area and other important attributes updated in the GIS? How are power companies able to determine where a break in electrical, gas or water service occurred?  How do businesses figure out where they should market specific products?  These are all data that are utilized in a GIS…but where is all this data coming from? How do you collect it and get it to display in a GIS?  More important, how can you tell if the data you are collecting are valuable or simply “garbage”?  Data Acquisition in GIS helps you develop skills in data collection techniques…learn how to develop the data that business and governments depend on. Students acquire, develop analyze and document the accuracy of geospatial data.   Data structures, topological relationships, coordinate transformations, file formats, media development/distribution are addressed. Prerequisite: Principles of GIS.

Database Management GIS (2 credits) Geography 2002

Have you ever been asked a question that you know the answer to but you need to look it up?  Where do you go…how do you do it?  GIS data and projects are linked in many different ways that make them useful to a wide variety of professionals at the same time—from assessors and city clerks to firefighters and police officers; from wildlife biologists and foresters to business managers and courts; from sociologists and economists to politicians and historians.  Database Management GIS helps you learn how to set up, track and manage the various types of geospatial data used by these and many other professionals.   The development and use of relational databases and geometric networks in a GIS environment is the focus of this course. Editing and database development for a variety of applications is pursued.  Prerequisite: Data Acquisition GIS/Principles of GIS.