GIS & Spatial Literacy

GIS (geographic information system) connects data to maps, allowing researchers to view, understand, question, and interpret geographic relationships. Spatial literacy is the ability to use maps and spatial thinking to understand the world and solve problems.GIS@SMU offers instruction and consultation on finding GIS data, using GIS software, and applying spatial thinking to research projects. We host workshops with invited GIS experts on a range of topics.

GIS at Every Level

We support researchers at any level of GIS experience.

  • For beginners or those needing review, we offer introductory GIS workshops throughout the academic year, including Introduction to ArcGIS Online, Introduction to Survey123, Introduction to StoryMaps, and Introduction to ArcGIS Pro.
  • Esri offers tutorials at Learn ArcGIS.
  • For help on ongoing GIS projects and assignments, drop-in consultations are available in the GIS Collaborative Lab.
  • To learn full analysis with GIS, we recommend semester-long courses such as CEE 7324: GIS & Mapping, GEOL 5356: Principles and Application of Remote Sensing, GEOL 3359: Computer Methods in Earth Sciences, and HIST 4340: Big History Text Mining: Seminar in Digital History.

GIS Collaborative Lab

GIS staff offers weekday drop-in consultations in the GIS Collaborative Lab and on Zoom for help with ongoing GIS projects and assignments, including locating spatial data, using and choosing GIS applications, and more. Current or experienced GIS users are given priority. The Collaborative Lab is a consultative service only.


The GIS Collaborative Lab, located in Fondren Red 106, is a workspace that is open for use by small groups. It has eight computers with GIS software, a projector, whiteboards, seating, and worktables. Reserve the GIS Collaborative Lab.

GIS Data and Applications

We instruct on a range of GIS applications, including Esri ArcGIS programs.

  • Find instructions for logging in or downloading ArcGIS programs, including ArcGIS Online, ArcGIS Pro, StoryMaps, and Survey 123.
  • ArcGIS Pro is available on computers in Fondren Library Red 106, 109, 110, and 323, Caruth Hall, and Heroy Hall.
  • To download ArcMap, contact us for the download code.
  • GIS data storage is available for course instruction. Contact us for more information.

Find GIS data and help choosing a GIS application. Learn more about finding maps.

Join the GIS@SMU Community

Stay up-to-date on the latest GIS@SMU news and contribute to the conversation by joining the listserv. Contact to sign up.