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Courses : Syllabi : 780

Geography 780 Participatory Geographic Information Systems


Dr. Piotr Jankowski

Course Description

The idea of participatory geographic information systems (PGIS) centers on the designs, processes, and methods that facilitate collaboration of multiple individuals for planning and decision-making. PGIS integrate people, geographic information representations, exploratory tools and structured discussion in order to synergize knowledge, expertise, and experience of multiple stakeholders. This seminar provides a setting to discuss the motivations, development strategies, and use of collaborative, participatory, and public participation geographic information systems in various application domains including land use, transportation and water resource planning and decision-making. The content of the seminar is organized into four sections. The first section outlines the origin and boundaries of collaborative GIS. It also explains the relationship between the seemingly overlapping terms of collaborative, participatory, and public participation GIS as well as surveys of the field. The next section provides examples of collaborative/participatory/public participation GIS. The following section addresses methodological and technical issues of designing and building collaborative/participatory GIS. The final section focuses on the evaluation of collaborative/participatory GIS designs. The required outcome of the seminar is a research paper that deals with a topic of your choice contextualized by reading materials, guest lectures by leading experts on PGIS delivered via compressed video, seminar discussions as well as your own literature survey.


Six units of upper division or graduate level courses in spatial analytic techniques. Interest in collaborative/participatory/Internet GIS and in social issues of using GIS as empowering and controlling (at the same time) technology.


Your grade in this course will be based on the following elements:

Class participation - All members of the seminar are responsible for reading at least two of the suggested papers each week. The more your read, the better perspective you have. All students are responsible for submitting electronically to the instructor two discussion questions/issues based on your interests – one question/issue for each of the readings. The questions should be submitted by 3:00 PM on the day before the weekly seminar meeting. Students should also bring a copy of questions to each seminar meeting for reference and for keeping a record of issues discussed.

Research paper - Please see/email the instructor early in the course to discuss a research topic of interest to you. The research paper will be your perspective on the design and use of collaborative/participatory GIS in relation to a topic of your choice - preferably your own research. The paper is to be approximately 10 double-spaced pages in length not including the diagrams and references.

Books and Materials

No text for this seminar; all the required readings are collected from the literature.

Weekly Topics

Week Topic
Week One What research interests in collaborative/participatory GIS do we hold?
Week Two Assuming that we all have some understanding about what a GIS can do, what are different perspectives on collaborative/participatory/public participation public participation GIS?
Week Three Public participation in planning and decision making.
Week Four What are we really after in regards to GIS and participation/involvement? (part 1: processes)
Week Five What are we really after in regards to GIS and participation/involvement? (part 2: outcomes)
Week Six How does the practice of Participatory GIS compare across the World?
Week Seven What are some examples of Collaborative/Participatory GIS?
Week Eight What are some more examples of Collaborative/Participatory GIS?
Week Nine What are models, methods, and process for system development?
Week Ten What are elements of a comparative approach to system design?
Week Eleven How can we evaluate the use(fullness) of participatory GIS technologies?
Week Twelve What are research opportunities in collaborative/participatory GIS?
Week Thirteen What are student research interests in regards to a research paper?
Week Fourteen How might we reflect on what we have learned this semester? What is the major challenge with your research interests?

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