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GIS - Not just for geographers!

With the G-word (Geography) in its name, it may seem that geographic information systems have been designed with only geographers in mind. That's far from true. The key to this name game is that GIS is about exploring information that is tied to specific places. There are lots of places on the planet and lots of different kinds of information.

For instance, the facts and figures you might examine could include social and economic traits of the people living in Minnesota counties. Other data sets might look at the extent of glaciers in the Himalayas in Nepal, the types and quantities of crops farmed in West Texas, changes in planetary greenhouse gases, or the migratory flyways of Canada geese, or give a birds-eye survey of the Grand Canyon using satellite images.

In other words, since the topic being studied can vary, GIS is useful in many subject areas. These include the sciences (such as geology, earth science, archaeology, biology, botany, zoology, ecology, and even chemistry and physics), mathematics, and all areas of social studies (geography, history, sociology, economics, anthropology, and political science). GIS is an excellent tool for learning about a single subject area or for engaging in interdisciplinary study of topics such as environmental education or global studies.