GIS Educational Opportunities at Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the United States

By Malhotra, Rakesh; Vlahovic, Gordana | Southeastern Geographer, Fall 2011 | Go to article overview

GIS Educational Opportunities at Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the United States


Malhotra, Rakesh, Vlahovic, Gordana, Southeastern Geographer


This study examines the role Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) play in the GIS educational landscape in the United States. Research of HBCU institutional web sites was used to develop a database of GIS and related geospatial courses, concentrations, degrees, and departments offering these courses. The review of this information indicated strong differences in access to GIS education for students between rural and urban settings, community colleges and universities, and private and public HBCUs. The availability of GIS technology at HBCUs and at other institutions of higher education was also contrasted to examine the existence of a technology divide and data show that HBCUs have kept in step with other institutions in introducing GIS into their curriculum. In formation from a similar study conducted almost a decade ago (Padgett and Crayton 2001) was used to determine advances in GIS educational offerings at HBCUs over the recent past. As employability trends for geography graduates show increasing emphasis on transferable technical skills--like GIS, the availability of geaspatial courses, programs, and certifications at HBCUs is critical to increasing diversity in geography as a profession and, in the long run, the vitality of geography as a discipline. Unfortunately, the advent of GIS has not had any material impact on the establishment of core geography programs at HBCUs.

Este estudio examina el papel que las Universidades Historicamente Negras (HBCU) juegan en el panorama educativo de los SIG en los Estados Unidos. Una investigacion de las paginas web institucionales de las HBCU se utilizo para desarrollar una base de datos de SIG y cursos geoespaciales relacionados, concentraciones, grados, y departumentos ofreciendo estos cursos. La revision de esta informacidn indica fuertes diferencias en el acceso a la educacion en SIG para estudiantes entre el medio rural y urbano, community colleges y universidades, y las HBCU tanto publicas como privadas. La disponibilidad de la tecnologia SIG en las HBCU y en otras instituciones de educacion superior se contrasto tambien al examinar la existencia de una brecha tecnologica y los datos muestran que las HBCU se ban mantenido a la par con otras instituciones en introducir los SIG en su curriculo. Informacion de un estudio similar realizado hace casi una decada (Padgett y Crayton 2001)rue utilizada para determinar los avances en las ofertas educativas de SIG en las HBCU en el pasado reciente. A la vez que las tendencias de adquirir un empleo para los graduados de geografia muestran un creciente enfasis en conocimientos tecnicos transferibles-como los SIG, la disponibilidad de cursas geoespaciales, programas y certificados en las HBCU son fundamentales para aumentar la diversidad en la geografia como profesion y, a largo plazo, la vitalidad de la geografia como disciplina. Por desgracia, la llegada de los SIG no ha tenido ningun impacto material sobre el establecimiento de programas de geografia en las HBCU.

KEY WORDS: diversity, GIS, higher education

INTRODUCTION

The Employment and Training Administration (United States Department of Labor) recently identified geospatial technology as one of 14 "high growth" sectors in its High Growth Job Training Initiative. This clearly indicates that Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and other geospatial technologies are changing geography both as a discipline and a career option. As minority students are generally exposed to their final career choice at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), it is important to study the availability and access to GIS programs and certifications provided to students by HBCUs. It is particularly interesting to see if the gains geography and GIS have achieved during the last decade in non-minority focusing universities have similarly been replicated at HBCUs. Kerski (2008) argues that to fully benefit from the explosion of GIS and geospatial technologies, it is not enough that more courses, certification options and programs are available on university campuses. …

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