Mapping Sciences

The term mapping sciences is used to refer to a range of different sub-disciplines within the broadly-defined area of Geography-Earth Science that rely on maps for the conveyance of important information.  Mapping scientists develop and use a range of technologies to ascertain and describe the physical landscape of the Earth (and other planets).  These technologies are used to produce maps and databases that can be used to solve real-world problems.  One of the most critical tools of the geographer and geoscientist is her or his ability to produce graphical representations of data in the form of maps and to use map databases to quantify, analyze, and interpret various phenomena.  Mapping sciences provide us with the tools for exploring the earth and a framework for investigating how human systems are effected by natural systems and how natural systems affect us. Typical tools include standard field equipment including surveying total stations, altimeters, Brunton Compasses, rod and stadia, various tapes and measurement tools, GPS (Global Positioning Systems), computer-assisted drafting devices and software (CAD, GIS), etc.

At Shippensburg University, faculty teach courses and carry out geographic research that emphasizes the development of qualitative and quantitative mapping skills.  These range from the accurate production of hand-drawn maps of a given 2-D or 3-D space in a room or sandbox, all the way through recreating landscapes and features on the landscape in digital computerized form.  Courses offered in the mapping sciences fall in one of three broad areas and include cartography, remote sensing, and geographic information systems.  Cartography is the study and practice of making maps in a way that combines careful attention to science, graphical artistry, and precise technique so that perceived landscapes and landscape features can be represented in ways that communicate spatial information on a variety of spatial and temporal scales.   

Students interested in mapping sciences can take a range of courses offerings from a major in Geographic Information Systems, through a six-course minor, and even a four-course certificate.  Interested students are encouraged to contact a faculty member or their advisor to discuss potential courses and projects (see below). 



Earth Science Courses (ESS)

ESS 110 Introduction to Geology
Examines and analyzes the geological processes and elements involved in the mobile earth, with emphasis on earth materials, external and internal processes, and earth history. Attention is given to human interaction with the geological environment. Topographic maps, fossils, minerals, and rocks are used to enhance understanding and student involvement. Lab/lecture.

Geography Courses (GEO) 

GEO 202 GIS I: Introduction to Geographic Information Systems 
Introduction to the fundamental mapping and computer concepts and skills that underlie Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and every other geotechnology. Topics include representation (raster vs. vector), display, map scale, coordinate systems, data acquisition, and data management.

GEO 222 Map and Air Photo Analysis 
Discussion and independent study of maps and aerial photographs to familiarize students with the nature and properties of maps and aerial photographs and to fundamental analytical techniques used to measure and describe spatially organized information. Laboratory exercises include qualitative and numerical reading, analysis and interpretation of a wide variety of maps and aerial photographs.

GEO 352 Cartography
Introduces basic tools of map-making. Explains techniques for displaying data and develops skills in compilation, design, and execution of maps.

GEO 339 Remote Sensing 
Explores viewing and interpreting the earth from aircraft and satellite-borne imaging systems. Examines remote sensing of the Earth and uses the interaction of electromagnetic energy with matter to determine physical properties of surfaces. Imagery will include those from Landsat TM, SPOT, TIMS, and radar.

GEO 363 GIS II: Intermediate Geographic Information Systems 
Continues development of the student's understanding of GIS and extends understanding into spatial analysis. Fundamental concepts covered previously, including scale, earth models, map projections and coordinate systems, are also developed. New major concepts include Boolean logic, overlays, map algebra, binary modeling. Technical skill development focuses on data collection and integration, digitizing, and design of spatial data display. Primary emphasis on using real-world examples in GIS modeling and analysis.

GEO 420 GIS III: Advanced Geographic Information Systems
Examines advanced topics in GIS analysis such as spatial data uncertainty, error propagation, spatial data display, transformations of geographic phenomena, and visualization. Skills focus on advanced spatial analysis, terrain modeling, georectification of data, and network analysis. Students design and implement an independent GIS project during the course.

GEO 440 Field Techniques 
Studies geoenvironmental aspects of the local landscape by direct field observation. Various procedures and techniques are utilized to collect data concerning landforms, geology, soil, streams, air quality, population, transportation, housing characteristics, and land use. Instruments, maps, air photographs, and statistics are used to aid in the research, analysis, and evaluation of the field problem.

GEO 441 Quantitative Methods
Broad-based education in the geographical sciences requires proficiency in applying statistical techniques to environmental problems. Provides a comprehensive and empathetic approach to statistical problem solving using practical geographic examples.

GEO 450 Geography-Geology Field Studies 
One week to 10-day regional field study observing and analyzing the physical and cultural landscape. Emphasis placed upon the physical and historical geology and geography of a prescribed route including several states. Prerequisites: ESS212, ESS311, GEO103 or permission of the instructor.

GEO 453 Advanced Cartography 
Experience is gained through project work in map design, execution, and production by use of vacuum frame, scribing tools, plate maker, lettering machines and large process camera. Students develop skills inscribing and color proofing in carrying out independent research projects and then design and execute maps and graphs in support of their research.

GEO 517 Applied Geographic Information Systems (GIS) 
Reviews advanced geographic information systems (GIS) applications and the use of geographic information management technology in environmental analysis. Spatial mapping and data applications will be related to renewable resource management, transportation and logistics, infrastructure management, natural resources, and land use planning, public health and safety, environmental hazards, mineral exploration, environmental assessment and monitoring, map and database analysis and research and education. Emphasis is on how GIS can assist in answering questions, solving problems, and analyzing spatial data. State -of- the -art GIS software is used to show applications of geographic information technology for geoenvironmental and natural resource management projects.

GEO 530 Mapping Sciences 
Advanced methods in computer-assisted mapping and map analysis (geographic information systems or GIS). Emphasis placed upon techniques of establishing, managing spatial (geographic) databases, cartographic modeling and analysis, and digital map composition using state- of- the- art GIS software. One hour lecture, three hours computer laboratory per week.

GEO 545 Image Processing of Remotely Sensed Data 
Microcomputer processing of remotely sensed data in digital format forms the primary focus. Each student has numerous hands-on computer experiences in extraction and selection of multiband pixel data from satellite platforms. Image processing and enhancement techniques emphasized. Supervised and unsupervised classification strategies performed on numerous data sets extracted from selected regions of the world. Students utilize the broad-based data sets for more specific applications research.