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 team members offer 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 Data and Applications

We instruct on a range of GIS applications. View our full list of GIS applications and get help choosing the right one for your project.

  • ArcGIS Online - sign in with your SMU ID and password.
  • ArcGIS Pro - available on computers in Fondren Library Red 106, 109 and 323 and for download on personal devices. Log in with the organizational URL prefix smudallas and your SMU ID and password.
  • Google Earth Engine

GIS data storage is available for course instruction. Contact us for more information. Find GIS data and learn more about finding maps on research guides.

GIS Research Support

We support researchers at any level of GIS experience.

Getting Started

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 also offers tutorials at Learn ArcGIS.

Projects and Assignments 

Drop-in consultations are available in the Research & Scholarly Initiatives Studio (Fondren Library Red 106) for help with ongoing GIS projects and assignments, including locating spatial data, using and choosing GIS applications, and more. Researchers can request extra ArcGIS credits for advanced projects.

To learn full analysis with GIS, we recommend semester-long courses offered at SMU:

  • CEE 5324/7324: GIS & Mapping
  • GEOL 5356: Principles and Application of Remote Sensing
  • GEOL 3359: Computer Methods in Earth Sciences
  • HIST 4340: Big History Text Mining: Seminar in Digital History

GIS Consultation 

GIS staff offers weekday drop-in consultations in the Research & Scholarly Initiatives Studio 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 Research & Scholarly Initiatives Studio workspace in Fondren Red 106 has eight computers with GIS software, a projector, whiteboards, seating, and worktables.  

Join the GIS@SMU Community

The GIS@SMU Research Cluster is an interdisciplinary community that brings together faculty, graduate students and staff (OIT & Library) who are interested in GIS from across campus.

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