What is Geography?

Geographers study the relationship between people and their physical and cultural environments. In a world that is ever more connected, place still matters. Geography classes provide in-demand job skills such as critical thinking, communication skills, global perspectives, and an understanding of human-environment interactions. Geography will also provide you with a deep understanding of how the world works: from global politics, economics, and development, to how power and inequality matter in conflicts over social and environmental issues.

What is GIS?

A geographic information system is a set of tools, including digital hardware and software, used to link information to location. From global positioning systems in our cars and smartphones to geo-social ‘check-in’ apps like Twitter, Facebook, and Foursquare, locational technologies are integrated into our everyday lives in countless ways. GIS is the system behind these everyday technologies. GIS can be used study where things are, how they got that way, and identifying any patterns in how things are distributed. GIS provides a means of linking databases to maps, creating visual representations of statistical data, and analyzing how location influences features and events.

What can you do with GIS?

GIS applications are unlimited and are expanding every day. These technologies are also increasingly essential to the planning and management of many aspects of government, business, and activism. Resource conservationists use GPS and mapping technologies to monitor and protect our precious natural resources. Citizens send geotagged photos of urban problems to government officials via smart phone apps. Crisis mappers use mobile spatial technologies to compile and map real-time observations of disaster relief needs or human rights violations around the world. Businesses use geospatial technologies to plan the most efficient routes for deliveries or analyze how best to reach their customers. GIS is a vital tool to query, analyze and map data needed for decision making in business administration, environmental science, supply chain management, property and facilities management, risk assessment, emergency response, land use planning, transportation planning, social science, real estate, crime prevention, and many more.

GIS has now become so powerful and its application so widespread that the people with the skills to use them are in high demand across a broad range of professions.  Having an understanding of how these technologies work and hands-on skills with these digital tools will help you in analyzing and finding solutions to local, regional, and even global problems. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that cartography and GIS careers will be among the top 20 fastest growing jobs in America, with median pay of $60,930.

Can I access GIS software?

ArcGIS software licenses are available to Stout faculty and staff. ArcGIS is installed on the computers in the Library, Room 111. For information on how to obtain a license for use on your campus computer, please access the ArcGIS KnowledgeBase Article.

 Course Descriptions


Minor Requirements [PDF]
from the Undergraduate Bulletin


Minor Advisor
Dr. Innisfree McKinnon
Innisfree McKinnon441K Harvey Hall
Social Science Dept.
GIS Tutoring
R.S. Swanson Library, Room 111

Lab Hours: 
Wednesday 11:00AM - 3:30PM
Thursday 5:00PM - 7:00PM

For assistance at other times:
Contact Colin Schulte