CyberGIS Curriculum Workshop for Synthesizing Education Materials

Sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF)
San Francisco, California, USA
April 2–3, 2016

CyberGIS (aka geographic information science and systems (GIS) based on advanced cyberinfrastructure) represents new-generation GIS in the era of big data, and has emerged during the past several years as a vibrant interdisciplinary field. CyberGIS holistically integrates high-performance computing, big data science, visualization and visual analytics, and collaborative problem-solving and decision-making capabilities through geospatial innovation and critical computational and spatial thinking. The importance of this integration is reflected by significant needs to bridge the digital divide between advanced cyberinfrastructure and various geospatial communities. CyberGIS is well poised to enable synergistic advances of digital and spatial studies and nurture digital geospatial ecosystems while holding a great potential for revolutionizing many areas of scholarship, ranging from engineering and science to the humanities.

While cyberGIS has already made significant research impacts in a number of domains (e.g., agricultural and biological sciences, geography and spatial sciences, and hydrology and water resources), it has become increasingly important to extensively advance cyberGIS education with community-driven strategies and plans. The central goal of this workshop is therefore to investigate curriculum aspects of cyberGIS and engage domain experts and stakeholder representatives to develop a roadmap leading to curriculum guidelines and resulting in recommendations for adoption in undergraduate and graduate courses in the US and beyond.

Workshop Scope

A variety of multidisciplinary communities urgently need guidelines and best practices of cyberGIS curriculum. This workshop will build on previous efforts such as the CyberGIS Fellows program that has accumulated a suite of related education materials. The workshop will focus on synthesizing such materials with forward-looking ideas and plans for cyberGIS curriculum development and adoption. Multiple breakout groups will be facilitated to assure in-depth discussion of the following topics.

  • Existing education materials including for example classes, lab exercises, and tools;
  • Curriculum gaps in teaching foundational knowledge and skills in big data science, cyberinfrastructure, and high-performance computing for various cyberGIS-related scientific domains;
  • Novel approaches to overcoming barriers and resolving the knowledge and skills gap;
  • Innovative ways to introduce high-performance computational thinking and cyberGIS earlier in the curriculum that complement and emphasize critical spatial thinking approaches;
  • Strategies and activities that broaden impact beyond workshop participants by leveraging new and existing cyberinfrastructure and cyberGIS investments to provide access to both educational materials and cyberinfrastructure for K-12 educators, post-secondary educators, and the vast array of self-learners and GIS practitioners.

The workshop will foster dialog initiated by position papers (maximum 2-page length based on the document template provided) that will be submitted in advance. Several smaller working groups will be set up and deliberate in parallel sessions and then bring their results to the plenary to be shared with the rest of the participants. The output from the parallel sessions will become the input to the overall report. All position papers will be posted on the website of the CyberGIS Center for Advanced Digital and Spatial Studies (CyberGIS Center) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (University of Illinois), so that workshop participants may read them in advance. The final report will be made publicly available on the website and also submitted to NSF along with the individual position papers. Position papers from people not attending the workshop will be encouraged and posted as well.

Position papers are now available.


Saturday, April 2nd

Hilton, Continental 8
  • 8:00 AM - Breakfast
  • 8:30 AM - Introductions
  • 9:00 AM - Lightning Talks: Major Issues in Teaching CyberGIS
    • Shook, Li, Bowlick, Swift, Carbajales-Dale, Mahmoudi, Gahegan, Goodchild
    • Summary: Usery
  • 10:15 AM - Breakout discussions
  • 11:00 AM - Plenary: report from breakout discussions
  • 11:30 AM - Lunch
  • 1:00 PM - Discussion: summarize the key challenges and solutions to carry forward into the later breakouts
  • 2:00 PM - Lightning Talks: What should be in the CyberGIS curriculum
    • Kemp, DiBiase, S. Wang, Ahlqvist
    • Summary: Gahegan
  • 3:15 PM - Breakout discussions
  • 4:00 PM - Plenary: report from breakout discussions
  • 4:30 PM - Reception

Sunday, April 3rd

Nikko, Mendocino 1
  • 8:00 AM - Breakfast
  • 8:30 AM - Lightning Talks: How to include CyberGIS themes in the curriculum
    • Kashem, Kim, M. Wang, Varanka, Ormand
    • Summary: Sinton
  • 9:00 AM - Breakout discussions
  • 9:45 AM - Plenary: report from breakout discussions
  • 10:45 AM - Closing session - Outcomes and future plans - Guidelines for Curriculum Synthesis
  • 12:00 PM - Lunch and continued discussion
  • 1:00 PM - Adjourn

Submission Instructions

Workshop Chair

Shaowen Wang, CyberGIS Center, National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), University of Illinois; University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS)

Program Committee

  • David DiBiase, Environmental Systems Research Institute
  • Daniel Goldberg, Texas A&M University, USA
  • Jianya Gong, Wuhan University, China
  • Michael Goodchild, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA
  • Karen Kemp, University of Southern California, USA
  • Scott Lathrop, NCSA, University of Illinois, NSF Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE), USA
  • Wenwen Li, Arizona State University, USA
  • Douglas Richardson, Association of American Geographers (AAG)
  • Morris Riedel, Juelich Supercomputing Centre, Germany
  • Johnathan Rush, CyberGIS Center, NCSA, University of Illinois, USA
  • Shashi Shekhar, University of Minnesota, USA
  • Eric Shook, Kent State University, USA
  • Diana Sinton, UCGIS, USA
  • David Tarboton, Utah State University, USA
  • E. Lynn Usery, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), USA


Please contact Johnathan Rush.

Workshop Partners