(image located at shutterstock.com )
Yogi Berra, the baseball player and trickster, stated, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” This appears to be exactly the direction that geographic information science (GIScience) education is taking. (For more 'yogisms', go toBrainyQuotes)
Instead of moving toward the ultimate goal of the creation of an accreditation of GIScience programs, there is still a fragmented, inconsistent and divergent approach to GIScience education.
Some of the underlying nagging questions concerning GIScienc programs in my mind are:
-What are students learning?
-Are they preparing them to be competitive to enter the job market?
-After completion of the courses, are the students able to perceive comprehensively GIScience, instead of being myopic GIS technicians?
In 2008, I published a paper “A road map for the development of an interdisciplinary GIScience Program at higher education institutions”. In it, I surveyed the existing GIScience programs and proposed a method of creating a ‘road’ to a development of effective and comprehensive GIScience programs. While there has been progress since the publication of this article, there is still not a consensus concerning about what makes up an quality GIScience program.
What are the reasons behind the persistent nebulous nature of GIScience programs?
Is it due to the?:
-complex and confusing world of technology which GIScience and spatial technologies are entwined;
-divergent views about what constitutes a GIScience program in higher education;
-competitive job market which appears to be driving programs to be geared toward creating GIS programmers instead of analysts;
-complex nature of GIScience;
-decreasing budgets of universities causing academicians to have less time to think about quality;
-academicians in GIScience being 'stuck in the mud' and narrowly focused on their own research and university program;
-lack of transprency for detailed evaluation of the programs; or
-combination of some of the above and other factors.
GIScience has certainly matured with very active programs across the globe and the academic, a signifiant literature and ‘brain-power’ to move GIScience education toward moving toward a consensus about a consistency and quality of GIScience programs. Yet, there is a constant ‘churning in the vortex’ in this area with increasing complexity, but no resolution. Why?
I will continue to explore this subject in later blog entries and possibility an updated paper on this subject. I would also be interested in the views of others involved in GIScience education.