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Highlighting the use of GIS in higher education and research

This fall, instructors, students and researchers had the opportunity to share their ideas, experiences and latest GIS research at Esri Canada User Conferences in Vancouver and Halifax and the GIS in Education and Research Conference in Toronto. 

GIS is used in a wide range of disciplines both for teaching and research at colleges and universities across Canada. For the past several years, special sessions at Esri Canada User Conferences and the biennial GIS in Education and Research Conference (GISEd) have provided members of the education community opportunities to share their work with the broader GIS community.

First held in 2013, GISEd creates opportunities for students, educators and researchers to network, share ideas and learn new skills. The third biennial conference (#GISEd2017) was held on October 11, 2017 at Hart House, University of Toronto, and was the largest conference yet with attendees from across the country.

The 2017 GIS in Education and Research Conference drew participants from across the country – Victoria to St. John’s – from colleges, universities, K-12 schools, school boards and related organizations.

The day began with a plenary talk by Dr. Cynthia (Cindy) Brewer, developer of the ColorBrewer colour picker and author of Designing Better Maps: A Guide for GIS Users and Designed Maps: A Sourcebook for GIS Users. Participants then had a wealth of options: over 70 presentations in 11 different sessions ranging from spatial analysis and citizen science to historical GIS and geodesign; and 7 workshops run by Esri Canada staff.

GIS in Education sessions at Esri Canada User Conferences provide similar opportunities as the GISEd Conference, but on a smaller, more local scale. This year’s sessions were held at the Vancouver and Halifax UCs and featured presentations from members of the ECCE at Simon Fraser University, Dalhousie University, University of New Brunswick, Centre of Geographic Sciences, Nova Scotia Community College, as well as Canada’s 2017 Esri Young Scholar Emily Acheson, 2017 Esri Canada GIS Scholarship recipient Lorien Nesbitt, UBC’s elementslab, and the Age Advantage Association of Nova Scotia. The presentations in Vancouver mainly focused on aspects of land use and urban design while the presentations in Halifax examined social issues and education challenges.

One of the challenges faced in the area of marine spatial planning when working with indigenous knowledge is how to define a space. From Knowledge to Data: The Challenges of Documenting Traditional Knowledge - Dr. Claudio Aporta, Associate Professor and Director of the Marine Affairs Program, Dalhousie University.

Interested in learning more? You can read about GISEd from the perspective of a few ECCE student associates in the Esri Canada Centres of Excellence blog. Conference proceedings for GISEd and the Vancouver and Halifax UCs are now available online. Contact for more information.

About the Author

Krista Amolins is a Higher Education Developer and Analyst in the Esri Canada Education and Research group. Her responsibilities include developing resources for use by students and faculty at colleges and universities, focusing particularly on LiDAR, JavaScript and Android app development; collaborating on projects with researchers at select universities; and coordinating the Esri Canada scholarship programs. She has a PhD in Geomatics Engineering from the University of New Brunswick and also holds the Esri ArcGIS Desktop Associate Certification.

Profile Photo of Krista Amolins