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Geographic Information Pathway

Geographic Information Sciences Pathway

Geographic information (GI) generally consists of facts, data and/or evidence pertaining to events, activities and things located on (or near) the surface of the earth (Bishop & Grubesic, 2017). The process by which humans organize, access and use this information is fundamental to science, industry and our everyday lives.

Individuals working with GI must navigate the world of both print and digital cartographic resources as well as oversee all aspects of related services, resources, and geospatial technologies. The Occupational Outlook Handbook projects that employment in fields that use GIS are expected to increase at a rate faster than the average rate of growth for all occupations between 2014 and 2024, or, 29% (U.S. Dept. of Labor, 2016). A Google-funded market assessment puts the global revenue for geoservices at $270 billion per year and jobs in many types of information agencies exist (Oxera, 2012). Careers in GI have the potential to attract a wide range of students from different fields to fill information professional roles.

Geographic Information: Position Titles in Information Sciences

These are but a few of the many positions geographic information professionals hold:

  • Geospatial/GIS Librarian
  • Map Librarian
  • Spatial Data Analyst
  • Data Visualization Librarian
  • Earth Sciences Librarian
  • Map Cataloger
  • Archivist/Records Manager
  • Surveying and Mapping Technician
  • Geology Librarian

Preparing to Enter the Professional World of Geographic Information:

Professional Development:


    • Map & Geospatial Information Round Table (MAGIRT)
    • Western Association of Map Libraries (WAML)
    • North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS)


    • ALA Midwinter and Annual Conferences
    • Association of American Geographers (AAG) Annual Meeting
    • Esri User Conference
    • Tennessee Geographic Information Council (TNGIC) Conference
    • GEOINT Symposium
    • International Cartographic Conference

Publications of Note:

    • Journal of Map & Geography Libraries
    • International Journal of Geographical Information Science

Required Courses For All Students:

    • 510 The Information Environment
    • 520 Information Representation and Organization
    • 530 Information Access and Retrieval

Recommended Electives:

    • 516 Geospatial Technologies
    • 543 Geographic Information in Information Sciences
    • 552 Academic Libraries
    • 531 Sources and Services for the Social Sciences
    • 532 Sources and Services for Science & Engineering
    • 545 Scientific and Technical Communications
    • 534 Government Information Sources
    • 584 Database Management Systems
    • 592 Big Data Analytics
    • 490 Environmental Information
    • 599 Practicum

Real-World Experience:

Potential Practicum Settings:

    • UTK Map Collection
    • University of Memphis Library – Government Publications;
    • ETSU Library
    • Tennessee State Library and Archives
    • Vanderbilt University

Recent Placements of UTK-SIS Alumni:

    • USGS
    • University of Chicago
    • ERT, Inc. (a contractor for NOAA and other government agencies)

Other GI courses at the University of Tennessee— Knoxville *ALL only face-to-face

Visit the current online UT Catalog to view descriptions of these courses.

Biosystems Engineering:

    • 326 GIS/GPS Applications in Agriculture and Environmental Science
    • 412 Surveying
    • 555 GIS and GPS Applications in Biosystems

Civil & Environmental Engineering

    • 210 Geomatics

Comparative and Experimental Medicine

    • 615 GIS and Geographical Epidemiology


    • 411 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
    • 413 Remote Sensing: Types and Applications
    • 414 Spatial Databases and Data Management
    • 415 Quantitate Methods in Geography
    • 517 Geographic Information Management and Processing
    • 518 GIS Project Management
    • 611 Seminar in Geographic Information Science

Political Science

    • 544 Information Systems and Networks in Planning

Statistics, Operations, and Management Science

    • 551 Leveraging Information Through Descriptive and Prescriptive Modeling

Wildlife and Fisheries Science

    • 546 Advanced Habitat Analysis


Bishop, B. W., & Grubesic, T. H. (2017). Geographic Information: Organization, Access, and Use. New York: Springer. ISBN 978-3-319-22789-4

Oxera Consulting Ltd, 2013, January, What is the Economic Impact of Geo Services? Available:

U.S. Department of Labor. (2014). Occupational Outlook Handbook: Geoscientists: Summary. Published January 8, 2014. Available: science/geoscientists.htm#tab-1