Geographic Information Systems Event


On Thursday, January 24, 2019, LMU hosted educator and geographer Joseph Kerski for a series of presentations, panels, and conversations about the use of Geographic Information Systems in education and academia. Kerski – who has a Ph.D in geography and has worked in academia, government, the private sector, and for non-profits – conducted the event with the energy of a curious child and the demeanor of a great teacher. His extensive knowledge of GIS, geography, cartography, pedagogy, and data collection and analysis provided a wealth of information and ideas to the professors, researchers, grant writers, and instructional technologists in attendance.


Joseph Kerski at LMU




Geographic Information Systems Event from LMU ITS on Vimeo.


What Is GIS?

Geographic Information Systems, abbreviated GIS, is a means of capturing data as it relates to geospatial information. This data can later be analyzed and manipulated. Explained less academically, GIS is a process of storing data of some kind – survey responses, landmass information, demographics, etc – on a digitized map as the data relates to a specific locations on that map.

So, for instance, if you conduct an exit poll survey during an election, you can store the data on a map at the exact point where it was collected. This data can the later be cross-referenced with geospatial information from other exit polls to create maps of voter behavior. Brianne Gilbert, Associate Director of LMU’s Center for the Study of Los Angeles, has done just this to collect information on how racially and ethnically homogenous neighborhoods create voting habits.


How Does, and Can, LMU Use GIS?

The Center for the Study of Los Angeles uses GIS to collect geospatial data on the city and its inhabitants. This data can then be analyzed to advance understanding of the relationship between the city’s landscape and its human population.

Digital Humanities librarian Melanie Hubbard used GIS in a course on urban environments. She taught students how to use maps and data collection to investigate issues important to them. For their final projects, students used mapping to identify food deserts, then wrote a proposal to either Ralph’s or Trader Joe’s to open a store in that area.

Through his presentations, Joseph Kerski showed attendees myriad ways in which GIS might be used at LMU. Some common applications for GIS software include creating historical maps with information embedded at pins along a route, such as a map of the Oregon Trail, and generating two images of the same place that swipe across one another to reveals changes over time, such as Santa Monica Boulevard in 1922 and 2012.



Sample projects created using ArcGIS:


How Can I Access GIS Tools at LMU?

LMU has a license for 500 users on our GIS platform. Contact Instructional Technologist Jeff Heline for access at 310-338-6061 or