Geographic Information Science for Development and Environment (GISDE)

Course of Study

Prerequisite: Proficiency in general computer skills, including file management in MS Windows XP,  word processing (e.g., MS Word) and spreadsheet skills (e.g.,  MS Excel).

Master’s Degree Requirements

The Master’s degree in Geographic Information Science for Development and Environment requires 12 graduate course units. These consist of five required core courses and seven electives. At least one elective must be a skills course and at least one elective must be a policy course. The seven elective courses allow students flexibility to take courses that will best help them meet their objectives and strengthen areas that they would like to focus on.

We encourage students to take advantage of the diversity of courses offered throughout Clark University, and consider enrolling in courses offered in the other programs in the Department of International Development, Community, and Environment, and in other departments (particularly geography, economics, and biology) as approved by the student’s academic advisor. The final requirement for a GISDE degree is the successful completion of a final M.S. project. This design allows full-time students to complete the program in either three or four semesters.

I. Required Core Courses (5)

The GISDE required courses include four core courses plus one required unit devoted to facilitating the completion of the final M.S. project. The core courses provide GISDE graduate students with a common academic foundation in GI Science.

In order to enroll in Advanced Raster GIS or Advanced Vector GIS, students must: 1) pass a proficiency exam that typically occurs at the end of the pre-semester GIS training in August, or 2) must pass Introduction to GIS course for graduate students in the first semester.

1. IDCE 388 Advanced Vector GIS – This course builds upon the concepts of GIS introduced in Introduction to GIS, and focuses on the more advanced analytical vector GIS tools. Topics include exploratory spatial data analysis, spatial statistics, interpolation techniques, 3D data presentation and analysis, network analysis and multi-criteria decision making. Concepts in lectures are illustrated using the ArcGIS software. Final project is required.

2. IDCE 396 Advanced Raster GIS – This course builds on Introduction to GIS by delving deeper into raster GIS. Topics include time-series analysis, uncertainty assessment, multi-objective decision making, land-change modeling, and spatial statistics. Concepts in lectures are illustrated using the Idrisi software. Final project is required.

3. IDCE 371 Introduction to Remote Sensing – This course introduces basic concepts and analytical methods of satellite remote sensing as applied to environmental systems (e.g. land-cover classification, vegetation monitoring, etc) Emphasizes processing and analysis of digital satellite images, especially Landsat, SPOT, and AVHRR data, for classification of land cover, land-cove/land-use change analysis, and other geographic topics.
4. IDCE 391 GISDE Professional Seminar – This course requires students to complete research proposals or internship applications in the spring semester.

5. IDCE 30213 Master’s Final Research Requirement – This course involves collaboration with internship or research advisor to complete a final M.S. project. The grade designation for this credit will not be given until the student has completed and submitted their final M.S. project.

II. Elective Courses (7 required)

Elective courses provide students the flexibility of designing much of their coursework to suit their own needs and to provide depth in a chosen area of focus. Students may take courses offered by the other three graduate programs in IDCE (International Development and Social Change, Community Development and Planning and Environmental Science and Policy) or in other departments, as approved by their academic advisor.

Skill Electives (a sampling of courses offered by IDCE)

• IDCE 30220 Advanced Remote Sensing
• IDCE 30212 Introduction to Quantitative Methods
• IDCE 30261 Computer Programming for GIS
• IDCE 30262 Internet and Open Source GIS
• IDCE 30393 Social Applications of GIS
• IDCE 30394 Environmental Applications of GIS
• IDCE392 GIS and Land Change Science
• IDCE 324 Intermediate Quantitative Methods
• IDCE 349 Advanced Topics in Spatial Analysis
• IDCE 30291 Qualitative Research Design and Methods

Policy Electives (a sampling of courses offered by IDCE)

• IDCE 367 Quantitative Environmental Modeling
• IDCE 363 Decision Methods for Environmental Management
• IDCE 381 Critical Cartographies: Mapping Culture, History, and Power
• IDCE 382 Environmental Pollution Policy: A U.S. Perspective
• IDCE 343 Seminar in Human Dimensions of Global Change
• IDCE 30226 Biogeochemical Cycles and Global Change
• IDCE 30241 Environmental Toxicology
• IDCE 30202 Land Use Seminar
• IDCE 30214 Landscape Ecology
• IDCE 30205 Climate Change, Energy, and Development
• IDCE 30218 Community-Development Decision Making and Negotiation
• IDCE 30217 Economic Fundamentals for International Development
• IDCE 30231 Humanitarian Assistances in Complex Emergencies
• IDCE 30277 Sustainable Consumption and Production


* Please view Clark’s official Academic Catalog for a complete listing of course offerings. Remember that each IDCE program offers flexibility so students can take classes across programs and within other departments at Clark University, including the Graduate School of Geography and the Graduate School of Management.

IV. Final M.S. Project

Each GISDE student must complete a final M.S. project for which the student earns credit in either IDCE 393 or IDCE 394. If the final project is based on internship experience, the student will register for IDCE 293. If it is based on research, the student will register for IDCE 294.

All three final project options require an oral presentation and a written paper.
All four programs within IDCE offer three options for a final M.S. project, which is the culminating experience of an IDCE Masters degree. In GISDE the three options are: (1) a Research Paper, (2) a Practitioner Report, or (3) a Thesis. Students choose the option that is most compatible with their research and professional interests, and then develop these interests independently through the final project.

[ Spotlight Profile ]

Lori Johnson

(GISDE '12)

Lori Johnson completed a research project with Florencia Sangermano, Asst. Research Professor at Clark Labs, for an organization called Beyond Ktaadn and the Québec Ministère des Resources Naturelles et de la Faune.

Using multi-criteria evaluation and remote sensing methods in IDRISI she predicted core reproductive habitat for wolverine in Quebec, Canada to support field surveys and land protection.

She presented her work at the US Regional Association of the International Association of Landscape Ecology Annual Symposium in April 2012

She also worked for Conservation International as a GIS Analyst where she mapped the distribution of Australian turtles species and completed a global assessment of priority areas for tortoise and freshwater turtle protection.

Lori is currently working on a GIS analysis of wildlife mortality data collected throughout Massachusetts on a joint project with Mass Wildlife and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

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