Teaching philosophy

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) provide an essential tool for handling spatial datasets across disciplinary boundaries and within activities as diverse as public administration, business management, and scientific research. Both, the Nature and Science magazines have recently devoted their attention to the ever-increasing career opportunities related to GIS and other geo-technologies ([1],[2]). Since Ryerson University has a strong and longstanding commitment to career-oriented education, the Department of Geography, formerly School of Applied Geography, is an ideal place for GIS education.

The study of GIS and spatial analysis methods is grounded in the Geographic Information Science & Technology body of scholarly knowledge. As an instructor of undergraduate classes, I view myself responsible for conveying thorough conceptual knowledge of GIScience along with stimulating enthusiasm and critical thought about GIS software. As a teacher and supervisor of graduate students, I aim to provide advanced training that enables and encourages students to pursue a career in academia, government, or the private sector.

A characteristic of my teaching is the methods-oriented approach that draws from examples in the science, social science, and health disciplines, in which GIS can be applied. I aim to familiarize students with more than one GIS software package, focusing on the over-arching principles of GIS applications and enabling students to quickly get acquainted with whatever GIS technology they may be asked to work with in the course of their future careers. As part of a critical approach to GIS education, I also like to emphasize the value of open source GIS tools and the existence of an open source GIS community that includes many Canadian academics and businesses.

As part of my teaching mission, I am also involving students in my research projects through research assistant positions and individual supervision of research projects, research papers and theses. This is a way of getting hands-on experience with current GIS research and development trends - not only for graduate students but equally for talented undergraduates of diverse disciplinary backgrounds.

[1] Mapping opportunities, by Virginia Gewin, Oregon, Nature 427: 376-377 (22 January 2004). http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v427/n6972/full/nj6972-376a.html
[2] Careers in Geoscience and Remote Sensing, by Andrew Fazekas, Canada, ScienceCareers.org (19 August 2005). http://sciencecareers.sciencemag.org/career_development/previous_issues/articles/3640/careers_in_geoscience_and_remote_sensing/