San Francisco State University Launches New Masters Program in Geographic Information Sciences

…from Golden Gate Express

“SF State’s department of geography and human environmental studies is launching a new masters program in geographic information sciences (GIS) this fall – the only one of its kind in the Bay Area.

“”Working in GI science is one of the professions opening up now,” Ellen Hines, associate professor in the department, said. “There’s a job growth in the profession.” Launching the new program was discussed for several years, but faculty officially worked on it for two years.”

Assessment and Evaluation of GIScience Curriculum using the Geographic Information Science and Technology Body of Knowledge

Journal of Geography in Higher Education, Volume 33, Issue S1 2009 , pages S46 – S69

Steven D. Prager; Brandon Plewe

“Academic institutions are increasingly being held accountable for the quality of education which is, in turn, leading to an increased emphasis on curriculum assessment. This is especially true of geographic information science & technology (GIS&T), in which a rapidly growing profession demands that educational programs produce highly qualified graduates. In response to these demands, the University Consortium of Geographic Information Science (UCGIS) has developed the Geographic Information Science and Technology Body of Knowledge, to identify the broad spectrum of knowledge, skills and techniques that make up the GIS&T domain. An intended use of this document is to support the development and assessment of GIS&T curricula. The authors address the potential benefits of using the Body of Knowledge through an evaluation of the learning objectives and curriculum of sample courses at two universities. They find that the Body of Knowledge enables robust specification of objectives and curricula, and provides the platform for reproducible and consistent evaluation of both curriculum and, ultimately, student outcomes. It is also flexible in allowing programmes to evaluate curricula based on their own goals and missions, rather than against a single standard curriculum.”

Conserving Rainforest while Sustaining Local Economies

Guyana’s Minister of Agriculture Will Describe World’s First National Low-Carbon Development Strategy at Town & Gown Cultural Series Event on February 8

Robert M. Persaud, minister of agriculture for the South American country of Guyana, will speak on a new approach to rainforest conservation at the next Town & Gown Cultural Series

event. Guyana is working to establish the world’s first national low-carbon development strategy that responds to a developing country’s economic needs as well as global climate change concerns. Introductory remarks will be made by D. James Baker, director of the Global Carbon Measurement Program for the William J. Clinton Foundation and former administrator of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The free event will take place at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, February 8, 2010, at the ESRI Conference Center, 380 New York Street, in Redlands.

Relatively undeveloped, Guyana retains up to 80 percent (162,000 square kilometers) of its original forest cover. That rainforest is part of the Guiana Shield, an area that includes all of Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana and parts of southern Venezuela and northern Brazil. These combined forests are the source of 20 percent of the world’s freshwater and represent 18 percent of all the carbon dioxide stored in the world’s tropical forests. Guyana’s new “avoided deforestation” strategy is to evaluate its standing rainforests as assets that can qualify for carbon financing and programs that provide new economic opportunities.

In addition to his current post, Persaud is also Guyana’s coordinator of information communications technology strategy. He has previously held positions as information liaison to the president of Guyana, head of the Government Information Agency, director of the Guyana Broadcasting Corporation, and chairman of the National Communications Network. Persaud holds a master of business administration (MBA) from the University of the West Indies as well as a diploma in news agency journalism from the Indian Institute of Mass Communications.

The next Cultural Series speaker will be James Fallows—national correspondent for The Atlantic, commentator on American politics and culture, and Redlands native—on Sunday, February 21, 2010, at 3:00 p.m. The series is sponsored by ESRI and the University of Redlands and is intended to share these institutions’ educational and cultural resources with the surrounding community.

Attendees should guarantee seating by preregistering for the event on the Internet at or by calling 909-748-8011.

[Source: ESRI press release]

Assistant Professor Position Open at The University of Arizona; GeoDesign Focus

“The Graduate Planning Program of the University of Arizona’s School of Landscape Architecture and Planning is seeking candidates for two tenure track positions starting with the 2010-11 academic year.

“Position One centers on Geographic Information Systems, Landscape Planning, Regional Planning Land Use Suitability and the emerging area of GeoDesign as it relates to physical planning and design. The successful candidate will be eligible for possible joint appointment with other units in the college. AICP or eligibility is preferred.”

Openings at the University of Nairobi

Applicants should be holders of an ordinary Diploma in Land Surveying, Cartography or equivalent from a recognized institution. In addition, they should have at least three (3) years of industrial experience with GIS, Digital Mapping, Remote Sensing and Digital Photogrammetry. Possession of a higher qualification in Geoinformatics and good computer knowledge will be an added advantage. The successful candidate will be expected to prepare practical classes for both undergraduate and postgraduate students in a busy Geoinformatics laboratory.

Applicants must be holders of a PhD in Population Studies/Demography or related discipline. Those with a Masters degree and a minimum of three years teaching experience at University level will also be considered. In addition, applicants should have a minimum of two (2) publications in refereed journals or two (2) chapters in scholarly books since last promotion/appointment. They must show evidence of continued research activity.  The successful candidate will be expected to teach Demography Technique courses. She/he will be expected to teach at undergraduate and postgraduate degree levels, supervise research projects, initiate and conduct research in their respective areas of specialization and help develop new courses.

Adding Environmental Risk to the Financial Equation

…from the Ethiopian Review

“Despite projections, many financial analysts ignore the risks and opportunities associated with environmental trends. ENVEST seeks to change this.

“In its upcoming report on the Asian Power sector, ENVEST uses geographical information systems (GIS) maps that show the intensity of water scarcity in certain geographic areas overlaid with locations of current and planned power generating facilities. The mapping shows that over half of existing and planned capacity for major power companies, representing 74GW, is located in areas that are already considered water scarce or stressed.”

Assessment of Nitrate Contamination of Groundwater Using Lumped-parameter Models

Environmental Modelling & Software, Volume 24, Issue 9, September 2009, Pages 1073-1087

Lubna Hajhamad and Mohammad N. Almasri

“In this paper, lumped-parameter models (LPMs) were developed and utilized to simulate nitrate concentration in the groundwater of Gaza City and Jabalia Camp (GCJC) in the Gaza Coastal Aquifer (GCA) in Palestine. In the GCJC area, nitrate levels exceed the maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 10 mg/L NO3-N (45 mg/L NO3) in many wells. Elevated nitrate concentrations in the groundwater of GCJC area are due to the disposal of untreated wastewater, the existence of heavy agriculture in the surrounding areas, and the use of cesspits for wastewater disposal. The developed LPMs utilize monthly time steps and take into consideration all the sources and sinks of water and nitrate in the study area. The main outcomes of the LPMs are the average temporal water table elevation and nitrate concentration. In order to demonstrate LPMs usability, a set of management options to reduce nitrate concentration in the groundwater of the study area were proposed and evaluated using the developed LPMs. Four broad management options were considered where these options tackle the reduction of nitrate concentration in the lateral inflow, rehabilitation of the wastewater collection system, reduction in cesspit usage, and the restriction on the use of nitrogen-based fertilizers. In addition, management options that encompass different combinations of the single management options were taken into account. Different scenarios that correspond to the different management options were investigated. It was found based on the LPMs that individual management options were not effective in meeting the MCL of nitrate. However, the combination of the four single management options with full rehabilitation and coverage of the wastewater collection network along with at least 60% reduction in both nitrate concentration in the lateral inflow and the use of nitrogen-based fertilizers would meet the MCL constraint by the end of the management period.”

Introduction of Threat Analysis into the Land-use Planning Process

Journal of Hazardous Materials, Volume 163, Issues 2-3, 30 April 2009, Pages 683-700

Davor Kontić and Branko Kontić

“The subject of this paper is a method for introducing risk assessment into the land-use planning (LUP) process. Due to adaptations of the results of risk assessment, which are needed to make the risk assessment usable by land-use planners, we term the overall process threat analysis. The key features of the threat analysis can be summarised as follows. (i) It consists of three main steps. The first is determination of the threat intensity level of an accident, the second is analysis of the environmental vulnerability of the surroundings of an accident, and the third, integrating the previous two, is determination of a threat index in the accident impact zone. All three are presented in GIS based maps, since this is a common expression in LUP. (ii) It can and should be applied in the early stages of the LUP process. The methodology is illustrated by an example in the context of renewal of a land-use plan for the Municipality of Koper in Slovenia. The approach of threat analysis follows directions of the Article 12 of the Directive 96/82/EC of the European Commission (the Seveso II Directive).”

2010 Thacher Environmental Research Contest Entries Due by April 5, 2010

“The Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) announces the 2010 Thacher Environmental Research Contest. This national competition for secondary school students was founded in honor of former IGES board member Peter Thacher, who died in 1999. Peter Thacher was former deputy executive director of the United Nations Environment Program, NASA advisor, and, at the time of his death, president of the Earth Council Foundation/U.S. He was a leader in promoting the use of satellite remote sensing. Read about the 2009 winners.

“The 2010 Thacher awards will be given to secondary school students (grades 9-12) demonstrating the best use of satellites and other geospatial technologies or data to study Earth. Eligible tools and data include satellite remote sensing, aerial photography, geographic information systems (GIS), and Global Positioning System (GPS). The main focus of the project must be on the application of the geospatial tool(s) or data to study a problem related to Earth’s environment.

“Geospatial technologies and data have numerous uses in science research, ranging from climate prediction to archaeology. They can be used to improve our understanding of the Earth system, including interactions among the atmosphere, biosphere, geosphere and hydrosphere. They can also be used to improve the quality of our lives by supporting weather prediction, natural hazards monitoring, agriculture, land-use planning, coastal management, transportation, public health and emergency response.”