Tufts OpenCourseware
Land use map of Union Square, Somerville, MA, created with ArcMap. (Image courtesy of Barbara Parmenter, 2012.)
Highlights of this Course

Geographic Informaiton Systems (GIS) store data and maps, and allows us to visualize different characteristics and issues of the world around us. The course focuses on introducing GIS as a basic mapping tool for visualizing the urban environment. Besides the introductory tutorials available here, Tufts University has a website with resources not only for Tufts faculty and matriculating students, but for others who are interested in learning about GIS as well. Learn more at GIS@Tufts.

Course Description

This course provides a basic set of tutorials for understanding how to use geographic and tabular data to visualize a community. The first tutorial uses state and municipal data to investigate and map land use for Somerville, Massachusetts. Functions such as reading data documentation symbology, attribute tables, creating and printing maps are all covered allowing for students to learn to use GIS. The next set of tutorials focus on using data from the US Census Bureau to understand the socio-demographic characteristics of communities. The Census tutorials can be done for any community in the US. The student will learn how to access data from the US Census Bureau website, download it, process it to make it usable in ArcGIS, and then map the information. Understanding and visualizing the statistical reliablitiy of data from the Census is also covered. All these tutorials in turn will allow students to frame spatial questions for further exploration and research.

Please note that the course as presented here does not contain the full content of the course as taught at Tufts. The included content is based on material the Tufts faculty and instructors choose to include, as well as factors such as content preparation, software compatibility, and intellectual property and copyright restrictions.
Course Faculty
Patrick Florance
Barbara Parmenter
Course Length
12 Hours