GIS@SMU: Initiative for Spatial Literacy

The GIS@SMU: Initiative for Spatial Literacy provides leadership in developing and coordinating geospatial and GIS data services and programs throughout the University. The development of skills in spatial literacy brings the ability not only to describe work visually, but through the agency of maps, to interpret and conceptualize using the structures of location, direction, movement, and distance in space.

Active, dynamic online mapping and Geographic Information System (GIS) technologies, provide the initiatives’ primary steps to support students and faculty to start to build mapping structures into their research process. By taking advantage of online tutorials, local SMU workshops, and actual courses throughout the university, students and faculty have access to the technological skills to begin to integrate spatial analysis into their work, not only as a descriptive tool but also as a conceptual reframing.

On the academic research side, the initiative invites collaboration & communication between faculty in different areas of the university who use GIS technologies for research and presentation, in order to encourage the interchange of skills, data and systems, and to create a working structure towards the development of an SMU spatial data system. The initiative is designed to support and accommodate the very diverse levels of student and faculty expertise and interest, and allow participation at various levels of intensity and skill.

Spatial literacy is the competent and confident use of maps, mapping, and spatial thinking to address ideas, situations, and problems within daily life, society, and the world around us.

Diana Stuart Sinton, Cornell University & Executive Director of the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS)