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Geography Courses

Physical Geography

Physical Geography is the study of the processes and interrelationships involved in the development of the physical environment, and the spatial/temporal distribution of phenomena found therein. This sub-discipline of Geography focuses on the functional interactions between the atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere and biosphere. In this course, you will learn how to explain the interdependencies and consequences of energy and material flows as they influence the natural environment, and the spatial distribution of temperature, pressure, precipitation, severe weather, climate, landforms and biotic communities.

Weather & Climate

Weather & Climate is a broad based course that explains the spatial distribution of the Earth's dynamic systems such as atmosphere, weather, and climate. Attention is given to investigating the interactions between humans and this environment in the areas of global warming, acid deposition, El Nino/Southern Oscillation, natural disasters, ozone depletion, monsoon geography, and their impacts to global hydrologic cycles, soils and terrestrial biomes.

Cultural Geography

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. Emphasis is given to examining the quality and diversity of life, spatial patterns of cultural geographies, global interconnectedness and critical thinking about the future of our world. As an introductory course, no previous experience with geographic content is required.

World Regional Geography

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 geographies. As an introductory level course, we will explore the interactions between the physical environment and the cultural systems that shape world regional areas. 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.    

Map Use, Analysis & Interpretation

Maps have become the cornerstone for applications in numerous disciplines not limited to geography, geology, forestry, biology, ecology and engineering. Many major private corporations and governmental units produce mapping products and/or use maps to accomplish their goals and objectives. As an introductory level course, we will explore a wide variety of maps, their various formats, the principles governing mapping systems and mapping techniques. A series of "hands-on" activities will be assigned throughout the course to allow you to apply the knowledge you learn in the classroom. Emphasis is placed on reading, analyzing and interpreting information presented on maps.

Principles of Geographic Information Science (GIS)

The use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) has become widespread throughout both government and the private industry for researching and analyzing spatial relationships. This course will examine the history, development, major advantages, limitations and primary functions of a GIS. Emphasis is placed on learning geographic concepts and GIS principles, using ESRI's ArcGIS 9.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.


This courses allows students to investigate the history, 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. 

Data Acquisition GIS

The creation of quality geospatial data is the focus of this course.  Students acquire, develop analyze and document the accuracy of geospatial data.   Data structures, topological relationships, coordinate transformations, file formats, media development/distribution are addressed.

Database Management GIS

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.  

Global Positioning Systems (GPS)

This course is designed to provide an introductory experience using global positioning systems (GPS) technology for data collection.  The objective is to show some applications of the technology for mapping purposes. 

GIS Applications

This course 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. 

Modeling Techniques in GIS

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.  Students will develop a research proposal that utilizes the modeling capabilities of a GIS based on a similar study as found in the supporting literature. 

Remote Sensing & Image Interpretation

Remote sensing is a tool that is being used increasingly in a variety of disciplines such as geography, geology, forestry and environmental science to capture and evaluate the areal extents and spatial associations of features distributed on the Earth's surface. This course will provide an overview of current remote sensing systems and analytical techniques used to interpret satellite imagery and aerial photography. 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. Applications of remote sensing techniques may be investigated in geography, geology, meteorology, agriculture, forestry, urban and regional planning. 

GIS Internship

Students will be placed in a professional setting where they may apply the knowledge, skills and abilities they have acquired during the course of their education to assist in real world applications of GIS activity. Students should expect to spend approximately 45 hours per academic credit hour, and usually complete 135 hours (3 credits). In the past, interns have been placed at the Itasca County Land Department, MN Department of Natural Resources (Wildlife and State Parks Divisions), the MN State Forest and Resource Assessment Office and at the United States Forest Service Chippewa National Forest.