GIS is STEM!

Today’s youth are tomorrow’s decision makers, and an understanding of geography and the use of geospatial technology will be crucial to helping them make good decisions that affect global health and community life. Unfortunately, geography has always been sort of an “underdog” in our educational system; it’s been misunderstood, generalized, and sometimes ignored. Even today, as we see increased focus on STEM in education, we frequently see geography completely disregarded as a component of STEM.

This is very unfortunate. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Geography touches heavily on all of these disciplines, and the application of geospatial technology helps us to better understanding cross-disciplinary phenomena and solve important problems. GIS, GPS, and remote sensing can be used to simultaneously engage students in science, technology, engineering, and math.

To overlook geography as a critical component of STEM flies in the face of the goals of STEM—to improve education, the work force, and national competitiveness. We need to work together as a community and get geography back in to STEM. The geospatial community and larger geography community have responded in number of ways. For example, National Geographic has organized a group called the Geo-Literacy Coalition, with the goal of raising awareness about the importance of a geo-literate population and the need to invest in geography education. More people in the GIS community need to support the efforts of the Geo-Literacy Coalition as well as other efforts to recognize the critical importance of geography in STEM.

Jack Dangermond

About Jack Dangermond

Jack Dangermond founded Esri with a vision that computer-based mapping and analysis could make significant contributions in the areas of geographic planning and environmental science. The recipient of 10 honorary doctorate degrees, he has served on advisory committees for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Science Foundation.
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  1. brya1680 says:

    Jack, I couldn’t agree more.  We’ve got to get geography and GIS more engrained in STEM education.  It is so frustrating that geography still plays such an “underdog” role to this day, even with focus on the continued demand and employment opportunities for GIS professionals (U.S. jobs anyone?) notably the US Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration (DOLETA) showcasing geospatial technology as a high-growth industry for the 21st century.  Geography’s lack of respect resonates into all levels of education as I just discussed geography’s challenges with the Montana Office of Public Instruction (OPI) yesterday while geomentoring for Hans Bodenhamer, high school science teacher from Big Fork, MT.  You probably remember Hans from the UC 2010 K-12 Cave Kids presentation.