2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 7
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM


MATTHEWS, Jeffrey M., Division of Natural Sciences, Lewis-Clark State College, 500 8th Ave, Lewiston, ID 83501 and SCHMIDT, Keegan L., Division of Natural Science, Lewis - Clark State College, 500 8th Ave, Lewiston, ID 83501, klschmidt@lcsc.edu

Earth Information Systems (EIS) at Lewis-Clark State College (LCSC) is a new hybrid undergraduate major fusing the core elements of a traditional Geology major with a robust understanding of GIS. The EIS major yields a computationally intensive, fully integrated GIS and Geology undergraduate experience. The LCSC program seeks to teach students to utilize GIS as a skill for spatial analysis of problems in the Earth and Environmental Sciences. The EIS degree differs from existing GIS majors in that it proposes to use GIS as a tool to solve scientific problems rather than as a means to an end. EIS differs from existing Geology majors (or Geology majors with a GIS minor) in that computationally intensive spatial analysis is integrated throughout all aspects of the major.

The EIS major at LCSC consists of a liberal arts core, a robust set of chemistry, math and physics courses, a core suite of Geology courses and several relevant GIS and computing courses. The Geology component consists of Environmental Earth Science, Historical Geology, Earth Surface Processes (a computationally intensive GIS based version of Geomorphology) and Structural Geology (taught at the senior level). A previous reorganization of the Geology curriculum resulted in a year long two-course sequence (Earth Materials I and Earth Materials II) effectively combining previous offerings in Mineralogy, Optical Mineralogy and Sedimentary, Igneous and Metamorphic Petrograhy. The GIS courses include a sophomore introduction to Geographic Information Science and senior level advanced GIS and remote sensing courses. The major is rounded out with a required database course and electives in hydrology and computing.

The central aspect of the new EIS major is a comprehensive integration of GIS based three- and four-dimensional analysis with traditional geology. The result is a tightly integrated undergraduate experience emphasizing computationally intensive, GIS based spatial analysis of Earth Science problems providing students with a relevant and marketable bachelor's degree.