Course Descriptions

Core Courses from Geographic Information Systems

430.601 – Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

In this introductory course, students become familiar with the concepts and gain the experience necessary to appreciate the utility of Geographic Information Systems in decision-making. Topics covered include the fundamentals of data structures, georeferencing, data classification, querying, cartography, and basic spatial data analysis. The course provides an overview of the capabilities of GIS software and applications of GIS. Class time is divided between lectures and GIS exercises that reinforce critical concepts. Students must complete a term project as part of the course. Offered every semester. Elective option for Govt. Analytics students.

430.602 – Remote Sensing: Systems and Applications

This course introduces remote sensing as an important technology to further our understanding of Earth’s land, atmospheric, and oceanic processes. Students study remote sensing science, techniques, and satellite technologies to become familiar with the types of information that can be obtained and how this information can be applied in the natural and social sciences. Applications include assessment of land cover and land use, mapping and analysis of natural resources, weather and climate studies, pollution detection and monitoring, disaster monitoring, and identification of oceanographic features.Offered once a year in Spring.

430.603 – Geospatial Data Modeling

This course moves beyond the fundamentals of GIS to explore the constraints surrounding data modeling as well as the methods to model spatial data. The course focuses on various kinds of spatial data, how it is collected, handled, processed, and analyzed through GIS technologies. Data conversion, migration and relevant modeling methods are examined. Spatial and attribute accuracy as a requirement for any data model is emphasized. As the term progresses, students deal extensively with different types of data presentations and the manipulation of those data in GIS models. Students develop a significant GIS project over the course of the semester and present their findings at the end.Offered twice a year.

430.604 – Spatial Analytics

This course introduces students to using various techniques for solving spatial problems. The course teaches a proven process one can utilize to address common inquiries related to understanding spatial relationships and patterns. Traditional analytical methods such as suitability analysis, network analysis, geostatistical analysis, spatial interpolation, etc. are examined, along with recent data science and analytics methodologies that help us extract knowledge and insights from data. Students will also use spatial statistics to address the distributional and locational aspects of spatial data within a variety of situations. Examples and assignments are drawn from many GIS applications, such as business, urban planning, public safety, public health, transportation and natural sciences. Offered twice a year. Elective option for Govt. Analytics students.

430.612 – Cartographic Design and Visualization

The Cartographic Design and Visualization course focuses on the fundamentals of cartography, spatial statistics, thematic mapping techniques, 3D mapping, and web based mapping. Students will gain an inter-disciplinary understanding of cartographic representation and visualization with hands on applications using cutting edge GIS and graphic design software to create purpose tailored maps. Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to interpret and appropriately communicate spatial data; will have developed a personalized cartographic style; will have created a professional GIS portfolio for current/potential employers; and most importantly will have developed a keen appreciation for maps and spatial awareness! Offered once a year. Prerequisite: 430.601 Geographic Information Systems.

Elective Courses from Geographic Information Systems

430.600 – Web GIS

Web GIS is an important foundation course in which students will become familiar with the current platforms available for delivering Web GIS and sharing geographic content over the web. Professionals in various industries often have to make information readily available and with current developments this has become easier than ever. The class offers a fundamental understanding of creating and designing web maps and web apps using various approaches and platforms. Capabilities such as editing, geoprocessing, geocoding, image analysis, 3D, mobile and real-time GIS in a web environment will be examined. Cloud-based and on premises infrastructure to deliver Web GIS will be utilized. Offered twice a year.

430.606 – Programming in GIS

In this course students will learn how to automate workflows and develop tools using Python scripts as well as develop web mapping applications using Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). The course is split in two sections. The first section covers Python as a scripting language which provides an easy way for automating complex GIS tasks and functionality, thus simplifying workflows and increasing efficiency. Management of Web GIS functions thought Python APIs will be emphasized. The second section teaching basic principles of developing web mapping applications utilizing JavaScript APIs. The students will learn how to develop rich, interactive web mapping applications which contain common GIS functionality such as selection, querying, geocoding, routing, editing and geoprocessing. This course will also introduce students to GitHub, Jupyter Notebooks, and Markdown. Offered twice a year. Prerequisites: 430.600 Web GIS

430.607 – Spatial Databases and Data Interoperability

A well-designed database is necessary to construct relevant spatial data queries. In this course, students learn the different database designs for stand-alone databases and enterprise database systems. This course examines the requirements for a GIS Decision Support System by focusing on the design of the data schema, identifying the necessary data elements and their formats, and exploring data interoperability as a designed constituent of a database. Data management routines for maintaining the spatial integrity will also be introduced. Offered once a year. Prerequisites: 430.600 Web GIS.

430.608 – GIS and Spatial Decision Support Systems

GIS can be a very effective tool to assist in making decisions for a wide range of applications at the local, regional, and global scale. This course will examine the use of GIS as a spatial decision support system for systematic policy analysis and scenario modeling. Case studies will be used from the areas of agriculture, conservation planning, homeland security, land use planning, natural disasters, transportation, urban planning, and water resources. Offered once. a year. Prerequisites: 430.601 Geographic Information Systems, 430.604 Spatial Analysis with GIS.

430.611 – Geospatial Ontologies and Semantics

The Geospatial Semantics and Ontologies course examines the foundations, design, and use of linked data (LD) modeling technologies and approaches for geospatial data. LD is based on the node-edge-node triple data model to form graphs that can represent information networks and so, addresses challenges associated with information management problems such as the use of variable terms used in GIS applications and their associations within related enterprises and information exchange over the Internet. The introduction to the course presents a general approach to semantics and ontology, and basics of information interchange on the Internet, such as Extensible Markup Language (XML) and its extension Geography Markup Language (GML). Standards for formal information semantics are covered, including serialization for Resource Description Framework (RDF) data, Well Known Text (WKT) for specifying coordinate geometries, SPARQL and GeoSPARQL query language, and Web Ontology Language (OWL) for logical reasoning and data inference. The triple model is compared to natural language, tree, and relational table data models. Exercises are intended to explore LD resources and services over the Internet. Subsequent lessons examine LD architectures and publication, ontology pattern design for the reuse of concepts, and visualization and mapping. The relation of LD to CyberGIS is presented in the final week. Some required technical literacies, such as Java Script Object Notation (JSON), data indexing, and Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) will be reviewed. These introductory skills provide the foundation of advanced geospatial LD applications. Offered once a year. Prerequisite: 430.600 Web GIS.

430.613 – Advanced Topics in Remote Sensing

This course explores the various remote sensing platforms, collection systems, processing methods, and classification approaches to remotely sensed data. Course content includes the Electromagnetic Spectrum, Lidar, Interferometric SAR, Sonar, Unmanned Autonomous Vehicles (drone technology), 2D vs. 3D modeling, volumetric analysis, ecological research with remote sensing and applications of technology and datasets in GIS models. Offered once a year. Prerequisite: 430.602 Remote Sensing: Systems and Applications.

430.615 – Big Data Analytics: Tools and Techniques

The explosion of data collection methods from a vast array of data sources in volumes previously unimaginable has tested the limits of traditional technology, which are not able to scale to the requirements of massive data. Big Data is the field of data studies where the data is identified by very large volumes, high velocity in data generation, and data format variety. This course explores Big Data technologies while utilizing cloud infrastructures. We will discuss the characteristics and architectural challenges surrounding Big Data, and explore geo-visualization techniques of data processed using Big Data Analytics. Students will work in a cloud computing environment to build Hadoop clusters, NoSQL databases, and work with other open source technologies to process data stores like Census data, and twitter feeds. Offered twice a year. Prerequisites: 430.600 Web GIS, 430.606 Programming in GIS. Python programming experience is highly recommended.

430.618 – Advanced Python Scripting for GIS

This course focuses on advanced uses of Python as a scripting tool to automate workflows in GIS and create customized applications. This includes the development of script tools, utilizing advanced ArcPy modules, working with third-party modules, implementing Python geoprocessing services, customizing GIS applications, and more advanced Python functionality. Offered once a year. Prerequisites: 430.606 Programming in GIS.

430.619 – Web Application Development

This course is designed to provide students with advanced experience in web application development. It focuses on uses of Web APIs, including the new ArcGIS API 4.2, for developing rich and interactive web mapping applications. HTML, CSS and several popular JavaScript frameworks, such as Dojo, JQuery and AngularJS, will be covered. Interchange languages (JSON, XML) and responsive design will also be explored. Widgets will be examined to quickly develop solutions, but the emphasis will be placed on tasks which provide more control over server-side functionality. Conceptual and technical documentation and samples will be greatly utilized. The course will facilitate heavy engagement in the large and growing community of Web API developers. Offered once a year. Prerequisite: 430.606 Programming in GIS

430.621 – GIS for Emergency Management

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have become an integral part of understanding the natural hazards in our world and how emergency management agencies respond to events and mitigate the impact of disasters. Furthermore, the advent of Web GIS has helped agencies overcome many challenges previously associated with GIS in Emergency Management. This course is an opportunity to learn about the use of GIS in studying natural hazards and apply cutting edge GIS technology to help emergency management agencies in the field. In today’s device-driven world, maps need to work on mobile devices so there will be an emphasis on enabling GIS in the field. You will use Web GIS to deploy maps that assist agencies with their incident command functions: Planning, Operations, Logistics, Command, and Public Information. While the industry focus will be on Emergency Management, the knowledge, skills and abilities you develop will be widely applicable in both public and private sector industries. Offered once a year. Prerequisite: 430.601 Geographic Information Systems or permission of the instructor.

430.627.81 – Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in Geospatial Technology

The transformational impact of artificial intelligence and machine learning in geospatial data science is profound. This course presents a hands-on approach of applying automated modeling and predictive analytics to solve problems. Smart capabilities are powered by machine learning and GeoAI through the use of correlations of pattern detection to build predictive models and classify outcomes for data never seen before. Use cases from various sectors focusing on prediction and optimization, finding patterns and correlations, advanced object detection and automatic feature extraction, are examined. Offered once a year. Prerequisites: 430.606 Programming in GIS. Python programming experience is required.

Core Courses from Global Security Studies

470.696 – Ethics and Privacy in Intelligence Operations

This course will address the ethical dilemmas and privacy issues that challenge intelligence and government decision makers in an increasingly complex operational and technological environment. We will examine basic moral, ethical and privacy considerations from all sides at several key points in intelligence operations from collection to covert action. The course will analyze the evolving nature of privacy concerns worldwide, with an emphasis on the balance between individual rights and national security needs as executed by intelligence agencies. Students will examine the policy implications inherent in seeking to address these issues. The readings will include diverse and opposing viewpoints as well as practicums and simulations to allow debate of the key positions in “real world” situations. Prior enrollment in 406.665 “The Art and Practice of Intelligence” or 470.711 “Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy” is strongly encouraged.

470.719 – Technical Collection of Intelligence

This course covers the application of remote sensing technology to intelligence issues to include geospatial intelligence (GEOINT), measurements and signatures intelligence (MASINT) and signals intelligence (SIGINT). It examines the tradeoffs associated with the use of different imaging, radar, and passive radiofrequency sensors and collection platforms. The methods for processing, exploiting and analyzing raw intelligence data collected by different types of sensors are discussed. The final segment of the course investigates the management issues associated with remote sensing in intelligence.

470.748 – The Art & Practice of Intelligence

This course will examine what intelligence is and how it is done particularly from an American-British perspective. Drawing on historical examples, the course will look at the various types of intelligence collection and how they interact with each other. It will explore the analytic process and the interface between analysts and policymakers. It will place a strong emphasis on effort on the limits of the possible including limits on knowledge, ethical limits, and political limits.

470.711 – Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy

This course examines the role that intelligence plays in the formation of national security policy. The course explores the forces and events that have shaped U.S. intelligence. It examines the steps involved in producing intelligence from requirements through collection, analysis and the actual making of policy. The role of intelligence in the major intelligence issues facing the United States today will be discussed as well. The main text for the course will be Dr. Lowenthal’s book of the same title published by CQ Press which has been called the “best introduction to the role of the U.S. intelligence community in the national security policy-making process.”

Elective Courses from Global Security Studies

470.601 – Climate Change and National Security

This course provides an in-depth examination of how the effects of climate change could impact national security, international relations, and global stability. Students will begin by examining and discussing the current body of academic literature. As the semester progresses, students will learn and practice how to use cross-disciplinary resources and tools to envision potential relationships between climate change effects and security outcomes.

470.697 – Intelligence and Counterterrorism

Counterterrorism is essentially an intelligence war. By definition, both sides use small forces and clandestine means, hiding their presence and activities not only from each other, but often from friends and allies as well. This course will explore the many roles of intelligence in every facet of counterterrorism, and ask students to evaluate their practical, legal, and moral effects and implications. It will also look at the terrorists’ own intelligence activities, and the “intelligence race” between terrorists and counterterrorists. There are no pre-requisites for this course. However, students would be well served to have a basic familiarity with intelligence and terrorism before the class starts.

470.752 – Intelligence Analysis

Intelligence analysis is fundamentally about understanding and communicating to decision makers what is known, not known, and surmised, as it can best be determined. Students will read seminal texts on intelligence analysis, discuss the complex cognitive, psychological, organizational, ethical, and legal issues surrounding intelligence analysis now and in the past, and apply analytic methodologies to real-world problems. Prerequisite: One of the following: 470.620 “Introduction to Intelligence in the Five Eyes Community,” 470.711.51 “Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy,” AS.470.748.51 “The Art and Practice of Intelligence,” or permission of instructor.

470.792 – Social Science in National Security and Intelligence
  • Required Courses

    472.600 - Introduction to Geospatial Intelligence

    This course provides an overview of the four disciplines that have merged to create the new discipline of geospatial intelligence and an introduction to the content of the program. The history of imagery analysis and digital cartography, the art of turning observation into insight and communicating those insights to non-experts, the science behind the sensors and platforms, and the mathematics behind imagery collection sampling strategies. The course studies the issues, technologies, and changes over the past 60 years that have developed into geospatial intelligence, and it will introduce the students to the opportunities and challenges of geospatial intelligence as it has shaped intelligence collection, analysis, reporting, and policy decisions. The outcomes of success in this profession have created new industries, and the course will also review the effects of commercial imagery, smallsats, non-governmental collection, and remotely piloted sensors. Students will be introduced to the concepts that will be covered through the remainder of the Master’s program through the Capstone exercise.

  • Capstone

    472.800 - Capstone in Geospatial Intelligence

    The Capstone is the culmination of the instruction and the learning in the program. It provides the students an opportunity to demonstrate their applied knowledge of the four disciplines of geospatial intelligence—the history of the profession, the science of the sensors and platforms, the art of analysis and geospatial communication, and the mathematics of collection sampling strategies. In this semester-long experience, the student selects a mentor/advisor, identifies a geospatial issue of interest, defines a collection strategy, an analytic methodology, a reporting strategy, and a written summary product and presentation.

  • Elective Courses

    472.610 - Commercial Imagery and the Impact of Small Satellites

    This course will begin with a brief history of commercial imagery. From there students will learn the fundamentals of various imaging sensor modalities (spectral, thermal, radar, motion imagery, etc.). Next, a historical perspective of collection management will be presented followed by changes to collection management due to technology advances within the commercial imaging industry. The strengths and weaknesses of collection models will be described, and students will learn to apply mathematically defined judgements to assess the value and cost of competitive imagery purchases. These judgments will examine the questions that drive the imagery purchase; the respective kinds of sensors and their applicability to certain questions, and the respective kinds of platforms for these sensors--aircraft, remotely piloted vehicles (drones), and different kinds of satellites, including smallsats (small satellites). The intended outcome would be the students understanding of the fundamentals of commercial imaging satellites and their collection criteria, through the comprehension of existing collection plans; the evaluation of existing collection plans; and the creation and budgeting for new collection plans.

    472.611 - Analyzing Social Media and Geospatial Information

    Social media is now present globally in everyday life, and in conflicts. With its reach, social media has also become an increasingly meaningful information source for scholars, advocacy groups, intelligence agencies, and others who are interested in shaping public discourse. This course introduces students to social media as part of present day open source information gathering, and how to plan collection and conduct analysis of information from social media. The course covers the operations security considerations, monitoring real time events, verification of online material, basics of social network analysis, and how to work with imagery sourced from social media, including geolocation of imagery. Automation and the limits of it in different phases of the process, and future developments in social media exploitation will also be discussed. During the course, students will conduct a hands-on investigation using social media data.

    472.612 - Geospatial Analysis: Communicating with Multiple Audiences

    The course will cover the art of communicating geospatial intelligence in writing, photographs or images, and mapping. It will address the challenges of communicating technical information and intelligence from satellites, aircraft, and drones, into text, combinations of text, graphics, maps, and data base,. The students will perform their own analysis, and convert their intelligence discoveries into data bases, reporting, analysis, briefings, and video-based presentations.