The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Geography Department is working on updating the GIS Master’s program, which teaches a technical mapping software. The faculty are looking to change different courses throughout the program.
Allison Donnelly, associate professor at UWM, said that this program is very useful.
“GIS is Geographical Information Science, and it’s a way of mapping things, it’s very computer orientated,” said Donnelly.
The department wants to develop a professional masters for people who could use GIS in a professional manner, which would give them a lot of experience when using it.
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Geography Department holds monthly faculty meetings covering different topics that focus on the department as a whole. On April 12, 2017, the Department held a meeting to discuss the change.
Before the meeting started, faculty and teaching assistants filled the conference room. They chattered among themselves and ate their lunches before the meeting begins. Mark D. Schwartz, chair director of the Geography Department, started the meeting.
“Alright folks, I’d like to call the meeting to order,” said Schwartz.
Before making any final GIS decisions, the department will have to get the changed courses signed off by the instructors.
“To get approval for all the G courses, they would have a syllabus created and the requirements laid out,” said Schwartz.
As the meeting continues, undergraduate professors go over petitions that they received from students. Once the petition is discussed, the faculty comes to an agreement to either approve or disapprove the petition.
Ryan Holifield, associate professor in the Geography department, has been working at UWM for 10 years. He teaches mostly in environmental geography.
“Basically students petition primarily if they want to waive a required class or substitute a class that would be an equivalent,” said Holifield. “Our procedure is that generally the undergraduate or graduate committee makes a recommendation based on the petition which is usually run by the professor that teaches the class and then the faculty votes on it, usually we support the committee recommendation unless there’s some reason not to.”
During the undergraduate petitions section of the meeting, all petitions were approved but one. The way they go about approving them is to consider whether the class is similar to a class that was taken and also depending upon what grade the student received.
Not only are there petitions for the undergraduate students, but there are also petitions for graduate students. During the open meeting, there were no graduate student petitions, but they also go through the same process.
Woonsup Choi, graduate associate professor, would primarily go over the graduate petitions and other concerns about the graduate program. Unfortunately, what Professor Choi had to say was left for the closed session of the meeting.
As for the GIS program, professors also discussed internships.
Kristin Sziarto, another associate professor at UWM, talked about goals for GIS internships for students in the geography program.
“We need to get this in order for GIS internships and if we have a good plan it will be good for the students who do want to do other kind of internships,” said Sziarto.
Sziarto is proposing a course that is a graduate and undergraduate course that she has taught five years ago. She was getting requests about the course so she thought she would try to bring it back but combine the two courses.
“What I’m trying to do is have it be a grad/undergrad class or two classes taught more or less at the same time,” said Sziarto. “The undergraduate one would be blended but the work load would be different.”
For graduate students, they’ll read two academic articles per week, with quizzes and discussion post and an annotated bibliography as the big project. Graduate students on the other hand, have weekly response papers and a full research paper of 25-30 pages.
“I would like to do these (in) Spring 2018,” said Sziarto.
After talking more through the course, the department decided to approve Sziarto’s proposal.
The Geography Department will be taking a retreat, which is a longer meeting to cover topics that they don’t have time to fully cover in a monthly meeting. GIS internships for the geography department will be discussed more thoroughly. It will be held May 12, 2017