Perspectives on Sustainability

Smith 304 Lecture/Discussion, MWF 8:30-9:20 AM
Smith 401 Lab Sections: AA MW 9:30-10:20 AM, AB MW 10:30-11:20 AM
Smith 401 Lab Sections: AC TTH 8:30-9:20AM, AD TTH 9:30-10:20 AM

Tim Nyerges, Professor
402 Smith Hall, 206.543.5296, nyerges at
Office Hours: M & Th 9:30AM-10:20AM, or by appointment

Hong Chen, TA                             Muthatha Ramanathan, TA
Smith Hall                           417 Smith Hall

Office Hours: announced in section        Office Hours: announced in section
hongchen at              muthatha at

The course learning objectives for students are to:
(1) apply principles of map design when creating various types of maps about sustainability
(2) practice critical thinking skills during geographic information representation and use
(3) understand mapping developments as related to geographic information systems (GIS)

Course Description
GIS Mapping has its roots in cartography. Cartography can be defined as the art, science, and technology of making and/or using maps to represent locational relationships among phenomena. This course is designed to provide an introduction to the concepts, terminology, software, and hardware involved in computer-aided mapping as a fundamental component of geographic information systems (GIS). Lectures emphasize basic concepts for understanding the process of geographic information representation and use. Methods and techniques learned in this course are applicable to GIS.  In addition, this course adopts a sustainability theme through which we understand information development and use.  Sustainability is one of the major themes in geographic studies world-wide as well as within the Geography Dept at the U of Washington.

Lab sections emphasize hands-on experience with geographic data retrieval and manipulation for creating and using maps. Seven lab assignments are required for this course. The last of the seven assignments is a final project of students’ choice, taking into consideration the time and data constraints established by the instructors. Although no computer programming is required for this course, previous computer experience with Windows 2000 or Windows XP is helpful. We will be using the ArcGIS mapping software package on Pentium PC computers.  Students have access to ArcGIS mapping software and hardware in the Geography Department's Computer Labs in Smith 401, 411, and 415.

Class discussions emphasize the link between the materials presented in lecture that week and the application of these concepts in lab assignments. In-class five-minute essays associated with those discussions will help reinforce your understanding of the concepts as they apply to the practice of map making and use.

Required reading:
- Dent, B., Torguson J. S. and Holder, T. W. 2008. Cartography: Thematic Map Design, 6th edition, McGraw-Hill, Boston.

Grading (total 400 point grading scale):
5 Five-Minute Essays (10 points each) – 12.5% (50 points) of total points  
First Exam – 17.5% (70 points) of total points
Second Exam – 20% (80 points) of total points

7 Lab Assignments 50% (Lab 1 @ 15 points; 2,3,4,5, @ 25 points each; 6 @ 35 points; 7 @ 50 points) 200 points of total points


Climate Concerns and Vulnerability Project – for Extra credit, or as a Requirement, and/or for your Final Project

The Climate Concerns and Vulnerability (CCV) Project is composed of two parts.  Part I is about Voicing Climate Concerns (VCC) in which participants develop indicators for climate change impacts to a Pacific Northwest National Estuary Research Reserve System (NERRS) reserve. VCC is extra credit for undergraduate students in Geography 360.  VCC is required of graduate students in Geography 560 (thus will NOT be awarded extra credit).  Failure of graduate students to participate in VCC will result in decrement of 20 points. Part II is about Deliberative Mapping of Vulnerability (DMV should be accessed through Climate Concerns and Vulnerability Project Phase 2 on page 7) in which participants discuss NERRS vulnerability to climate change impacts based on maps created as a results of Part I indicators.  Students can use Part II, that is DMV, as their final project assignment.  If students wish to undertake DMV for extra credit, you will be awarded 20 points, but of course you would also have to complete a separate final project. More details are at the CCV project description.