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Introduction to GIS and Spatial Analysis for Social Scientists

Program(s): Undergraduate Courses

This course provides an introduction and overview of how spatial thinking is translated into specific methods to handle geographic information and the statistical analysis of such information. This is not a course to learn a specific GIS software program, but the goal is to learn how to think about spatial aspects of research questions, as they pertain to how the data are collected, organized and transformed, and how these spatial aspects affect statistical methods. The focus is on research questions relevant in the social sciences, which inspires the selection of the particular methods that are covered. Examples include spatial data integration (spatial join), transformations between different spatial scales (overlay), the computation of “spatial” variables (distance, buffer, shortest path), geovisualization, visual analytics, and the assessment of spatial autocorrelation (the lack of independence among spatial variables). The methods will be illustrated by means of open source software such as QGIS and R.

Remote or Residential

✓ Residential Course


Course Considerations

For UChicago students: Cross-listed with GEOG 38702, ENST 28702, ARCH 28702, SOCI 20283, and SOCI 30283. This course is open to all undergraduates and is included in the Summer Institute in Social Research Methods. 

This course is required for the Environmental and Urban Studies major and is an approved elective for the minor. It satisfies the methods requirement in the Public Policy Studies major. It is an approved elective for the Geographic Information Science minor, the Latin American and Caribbean Studies major, the Architectural Studies minor, and the Sociology major. This course may be approved as an elective for additional majors by petition.

Course Overview

Start Date

June 10

End Date

July 12

Current Grade / Education Level

Undergrad / Grad


Undergraduate Courses

Class Details

Course Code

GISC 28702 91

Class Day(s)

Mon Tues Wed Thurs

Class Duration (CST)


11:30 A.M.


Session I

Course Length

5 weeks

Primary Instructor

Crystal Bae

Academic Interest

Social Sciences (e.g., history, sociology)