Western Oregon University has new minor and certificate programs in Geographic Information Science (GIScience) that began enrolling Fall 2014. The new program is housed in the Earth and Physical Sciences Department and expands upon the existing geosciences curriculum related to geographic information systems (GIS), cartography, remote sensing, photogrammetry, surveying, and quantitative analysis. These areas of study involve melding of computing systems with mapping, images, geographic location, information management and spatial analysis. GIScience and related geospatial technologies are in widespread use across all sectors of the global economy including scientific research, natural resource management, government, industry and business (e.g. Google Earth, Mapquest). To launch the program, the Earth and Physical Science Department has recently hired Melinda Shimizu from Arizona State University, to serve as Assistant Professor of Geographic Information Science.

The new GIScience program is aimed at WOU students looking for a minor to strengthen their technology skills to compete for entry level information management jobs upon graduation. The program is most relevant to majors in Natural Science, Social Science, Public Policy, Criminal Justice and Computer Science. In addition to the minor, the GIScience program may also be completed as a post-baccalaureate certificate for those off-campus individuals seeking to enhance technology skills that are directly transferable to the 21st Century marketplace.


Geographic information science minor with certificate option

Professors – Steve Taylor, Mark VanSteeter

Assistant Professor –  Melinda Shimizu


Geographic information science minor…………………………………… 24

Foundation Course:  4 credits

Choose one: (4)

ES202 Principles of Geology (4)
Geog105 Introductory Physical Geography (4)

Core Curriculum:  16 credits

Geog240 Map and Air Photo Interpretation (4)
ES340 Principles of Cartography (4)
ES341 Geographic Information Systems I (4)
ES342 Geographic Information Systems II (4)

Choose One: 4 credits

ES444 Remote Sensing (4)
ES492 Advanced GIS Applications in Earth Science (4)

In addition to the minor, the Geographic Information Science curriculum may also be completed as a professional certificate program. The requirements are the same.


Earth Science Student Handbook  –  Earth_Science_Advising_Guide_July_2015


2016-17 academic year specifics

Course offerings for the Geographic Information Science program in 2016-17 will include ES341 Geographic Information Systems I (Fall 16), followed by ES342 Geographic Information Systems II, and ES340 Principles of Cartography in winter and spring terms 2017, respectively. ES 492 Advanced GIS Applications in Earth Science will also be offered Spring 2017.

For more information, contact program advisors Dr. Melinda Shimizu (shimizum@wou.edu) or Dr. Steve Taylor (taylors@wou.edu) or Dr. Mark VanSteeter (vanstem@wou.edu).

[SECTION=Geographic Information Science Courses]

ES 104,105,106 Earth System Science (5)

This three-term sequence of courses integrates the critical concepts of chemistry, physics, and geology in the context of the Earth as a system. ES 104: Focus on the Solar System, the processes driven by the interior of Earth, including plate tectonics, earthquakes, and volcanism, and introduction to study of Earth materials. ES 105: Focus on physical and chemical processes occurring at the surface of Earth with an emphasis on energy in the Earth system. ES 106: Focus on human impacts to the Earth system, including chemical and physical aspects of water pollution, oceanography, air pollution, meteorology, and global climate change. Not open to students who have taken more advanced course in the corresponding subject matter. All three courses require three hours of lecture and one two-hour laboratory per week.

ES 201,202,203 Principles of Geology  (4)

Introductory geology sequence that focuses on physical and historical geology. ES 201 emphasizes Earth’s internal processes with topics including plate tectonics, minerals, igneous rocks and processes, volcanism, metamorphism and metamorphic rocks, rock deformation and geologic structures, and earthquakes. ES 202 emphasizes Earth surface processes with topics including sedimentary rocks, sedimentary processes, rock weathering, mass wasting, river systems, groundwater, glaciers, deserts, and coastal processes. ES 203 explores the origin and dynamics of the Earth’s interior, surface, ocean, atmospheric, and biological systems and critically evaluates topics including the age of the earth and the origin of life. Three lectures and one two-hour laboratory. No prerequisite.

ES 340 Principles of Cartography (4):

Introduction to cartography and the principles of map design. Topics include geodesy, scaling, projections, coordinate systems, data collection, computer cartography, map design, color models, symbolization, and map production. Four hours of lecture and active learning per week. Prerequisite: MTH 111 or higher, or consent of instructor.

ES 341 Geographic Information Systems I (4):

Introduction to Geographic Information Systems using the ArcGIS software platform. Topics include cartographic principles, coordinate systems, map projections, vector/raster data models, geodatabases, attribute data management, data exploration/queries, data display, map production, geoprocessing, attribute/feature editing, and metadata. Four hours of lecture and active learning per week. Prerequisite: ES 340, or consent of instructor.

ES 342 Geographic Information Systems II (4):

Continuation of Geographic Information Systems I, using ArcGIS software platform. Topics include advanced editing, spatial analysis, vector data analysis, raster data analysis, terrain mapping, watershed analysis, spatial interpolation, geocoding, network analysis, GIS modeling, Python scripting. Four hours of lecture and active learning per week. Prerequisites: ES 341, or consent of instructor.

ES 444/544 Remote Sensing (4):

Introduction to Remote Sensing and the acquisition of images at the Earth’s surface. Topics include introduction to photogrammetric principles, electromagnetic radiation, spectral properties of Earth materials, cameras and sensors, aerial photography, satellite imagery, data processing, image classification, image interpretation, and scientific applications. Four hours of lecture and active learning per week. Prerequisite: ES 342, or consent of instructor.

ES 492/592 Advanced GIS Applications in Earth Science (4):

Focus on the application of geographic information systems to real-world problems in the Earth sciences. Emphasis is placed on the use of computer technology in analyzing spatial and temporal relationships of geologic systems. Four hours of lecture and active learning per week. Prerequisite: ES 342, or consent of instructor.





Contact Us:

Department of Earth and Physical Science

Department Chair: Jeff Templeton  

503-838-8858   l    email: templej@wou.edu l   Location: Natural Science Building  NS 211