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What is to be done? Syllabus content for cartographic education

Lookup NU author(s): Dr David Fairbairn


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The worrying decline in provision of cartographic education in many countries around the world is balanced by expansion of course numbers in several others. What factors are driving these trends? Is it possible to learn from experiences in countries such as Brazil, Spain and Turkey, where cartography is an expanding university subject? Does the content of the syllabus vary in different countries? What modifications can be considered to what is taught in cartographic education and how it is delivered? To what extent do cartographers have to co-operate with other geospatial scientists and technologists in developing relevant educational courses? Answering these questions inevitably leads to a recognition of the connections and integration of cartography as a discipline with a host of other related disciplines, including geodesy, image handling, computing science, GIS, geography, mathematics, design, social science and commerce. Attempts at developing an effective cartographic syllabus will inevitably fail without acknowledging such links. Contemporary developments which take cartography into advanced new fields such as web technologies, into new structures such as SDIs, and into new markets such as citizen-based geospatial data handling programmes require new pedagogical methods, as it is clear that conventional educational programmes cannot hope to address every single application, link, collaboration and integration which cartography participates in. Syllabuses, educational content and mode of delivery will all have to change to be flexible, dynamic and relevant. This paper attempts to resolve the contradiction of crafting a focused cartographic syllabus, with a uniquely cartographic flavour, which also expands consideration to the collaborative nature of cartographic activity. Thus, whilst the pillars of future education in cartography will consist of those contemporary topics presented by Gartner and Schmidt (2010), it will be essential to make the links to other subjects. Each of their five major cartographic themes (data acquisition and sensors; web mapping and social networks; LBS; augmented reality and cross media; and SDIs) has inherent linkages with related disciplines, and these are mapped out here. Other initiatives, notably a number of competency models and development of associated ‘Bod(ies) of Knowledge’, also help to broaden the vision of cartographic educators. Further, note must be taken of some of the contemporary tools to enable educational delivery, such as MOOCs and online learning, which are fulfilling the need for up-to-date instruction in these new fields in a way in which conventional learning does not. Such methods of education are becoming normal for those who have no time for, lack of money to pay for, live distant from, or are barred by age from, formal educational courses. Cartographic education is generally a means to an end – the development of skills which are sought after by employers and clients. The role of recruiting organisations and of the marketplace will ensure that cartographers will continue to be in demand, but it is necessary for cartographic education establishments and providers to develop contemporary, integrated, strong, relevant content for their programmes. All with an interest in cartographic progress have a role to play in ensuring the health of educational provision in our subject. Overviews of contemporary cartography, models of competency, current syllabuses, the influence of professional and accrediting bodies, pedagogical researchers and developers, employers, students and practitioners all have a stake in the development of relevant and effective cartographic education.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Fairbairn D

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: 27th International Cartographic Conference

Year of Conference: 2015

Acceptance date: 01/01/1900


Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9788588783119