What You’ll Study

In this minor in the Global Studies program, you’ll learn to use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to solve real-world problems. Geospatial technologies connect data sets to landscapes and communities, which allows government and nonprofit agencies to gain new insight about environmental and social problems. Geospatial technology refers to GIS, GPS, spatial data management, and related developer tools and end user applications.

Open-Source Teaching & Research

Open source software means that the source code used to create the program is freely available for the public to view, edit, and redistribute. This code is written by a worldwide community rather than a single software company. Some do this as part of their “day jobs,” while others volunteer.

Free and open source geospatial technologies are critical for both developed and developing countries as they lower the access cost to geospatial software for education, government, and industry applications. They enhance research and teaching in geospatial science and technology and increase research and development of spatial data infrastructures. Most importantly, they enable more transparency, accessibility, and long term sustainability in our communities.



Explore Classes in This Program

GBL 225

Introduction to Geographic Information Systems

This course provides you with an introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in the natural and social sciences. You’ll apply techniques of geographic information science to view, manipulate, analyze, and publish geographic data. Topics covered include vector and raster data models, database query, geoprocessing, geocoding, and cartographic techniques. You’ll conduct an in-depth individual research project that uses GIS techniques to address a particular question or problem.

GBL 325

Advanced Geographic Information Systems

Are you interested in furthering your understanding of geographic information science? Then this course is for you. Topics build on the foundation of the intro course and include spatial analysis procedures on raster and vector data, database management, topology, model design, 3D modeling, open source GIS, web mapping, and project management. You’ll design and conduct significant, real-world research projects, often for outside agencies or organizations.

Meet Our Faculty

Warren Wilson students crave a challenge. I am continually amazed at the enthusiasm with which our students throw themselves into an endeavor, whether it be a physically exhausting service trip or an intellectually stimulating research question. Wilson students tend to say “bring it.”

David Abernathy, Ph.D.
David Abernathy
David Abernathy, Ph.D.
Buncombe County map
Fieldwork Profile

Mapping Change

Students and faculty at Warren Wilson contributed a major project for Buncombe County called ‘Mapping Change.’ It used maps to analyze change over a 10-year period of rapid growth in Western North Carolina. The project culminated in an 80-page book, which analyzed the effects of change in terms of land use, demography, water quality, and housing. The data united many different social and ecological problems, illustrating how they connect to one another.

Professor Paul Bartels outlined the findings for the county commissioners in a presentation using maps from the book. Among many other observations, Bartels connected the impact of homes built on steep slopes with sediment erosion, stream pollution, and trout populations. Through Bartels’ presentation to county lawmakers, Warren Wilson students’ work in GIS and Data Science influenced local government.