School of the Environment-University of Toronto

GEM 400- Introduction To GIS For Environmental Management

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This course provides an introduction to digital mapping and spatial analysis using a geographic information system. The course begins by building a foundation of fundamental concepts such as scale and map projections, critical to all future GIS analytical work. Students then learn how to create their own maps, input their own data, and how to use GIS software to analyze geographic problems and learn techniques that can be applied to environmental management, as well as to a wide variety of other subject areas.

This online course provides an introduction to digital mapping and spatial analysis using a geographic information system (GIS).  The course begins by building a foundation of fundamental concepts such as scale and map projections, critical to all future GIS analytical work.  Students then learn how to create their own maps, input their own data, and how to use GIS software to analyze geographic problems and learn techniques that can be applied to environmental management, as well as to a wide variety of other subject areas.

Students will use leading-edge industry data and a case study provided by EcoLog ERIS .  The case study is the former Stelco brownfield site in Toronto, which has recently been rehabilitated and where new condominiums are currently under construction.  Analysis of this site includes working with a high-resolution aerial photograph of the study site, digitizing the outline of the Stelco parcel of land, querying and analyzing EcoLog ERIS environmental data surrounding the site, hyperlinking digital ground photographs to mapped features in the GIS software, and analyzing population density and distribution in the area immediately surrounding the site.

The online course notes and the textbook explain the underlying theory, and how it is implemented in GIS software.  The practical assignments then give students the opportunity to learn for themselves how to put that theory into practice, gaining hands-on experience with ESRI ArcGIS 10 software, the latest version of the most popular GIS and an industry standard in many fields.

This course is part of the Certificate in GIS for Environmental Management offered by the Centre for Environment (CFE) and can not be applied to any degree program at the University of Toronto.

The goal of the course is to provide students with a strong understanding of introductory GIS concepts and theory, as well as practical skills, so that they are able to make informed decisions about how to approach a GIS-related problem and transfer their understanding to any GIS software. Upon successful completion of the course, students will understand how to acquire data from other sources, create and edit their own data using different file formats, perform queries from tabular or map data, perform map overlay analysis, and understand some basic techniques for designing a quantitative map for communicating analysis results to others. This will all be done within the context of a practical environmental problem using actual data sets taken from the environmental sector.

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