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The Department of Geography offers ‘Open Source GIS’ in partnership with Continuing Education Programs at Hunter College.








One-week professional training course offered at Department of Geography, Hunter College, CUNY

January 25-29, 2016, 9AM to 5PM


“This was a great course. It outlined very well the world of FOSS to me. The emphasis on code and scripting was useful since this is how most of these tools operate.”


Course Description

This five day course will span the entire range of GIS data capturing, management, analysis, and visualization of geographic information using Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). Each day of the week is designed as a self-contained unit, so that participants can sign up to any combination of individual days, or book the whole one-week session. The course will be conducted in a workshop style, combining brief introductions by the instructor with hands-on exercises where the participants will work with the different free and open source GIS packages. Computers and server space to run the exercises will be provided. Participants will be issued a certificate of participation upon successful completion of their course sections. Previous iterations of the course were joined by participants from different organizations, companies, and universities in the tri-state area, so that it also presents an excellent networking opportunity


Day Topic Description
Monday QGIS

Hands-on introduction to the most popular FOSS desktop GIS, covering setup, data management, spatial analysis, map design, digitizing, the plugin ecosystem, and integration with other FOSS GIS software. 

Prerequisites: Participants should be familiar with basic GIS concepts.
Tuesday PostGIS

Introduction to the spatial extension to the popular PostgreSQL database. Participants will learn how to set up and use PostGIS as the central data storage in their GIS software stack, how to connect it to other software, and how to query the database using SQL.

Prerequisites: Participants should be familiar with basic GIS concepts. 

Wednesday Geospatial Python

General introduction to the Python programming language with a specific focus on its capabilities for processing and analyzing geographic information, including automating GIS workflows, raster and vector data processing, and geocoding.

Prerequisites: Participants should have a basic understanding of fundamental programming concepts such as data types, loops, and conditionals. The article·Instant Hacking·is a great read for participants without any prior programming experience.

Thursday Web Mapping

Introduction to the development of interactive web maps using online services such as·CartoDB·and·MapBox, as well as JavaScript libraries such as·Leaflet·and·OpenLayers.

Prerequisites: Participants should be have a basic understanding of how HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are used to build interactive websites. The articles·How does the Internet work and·The web standards model – HTML CSS and JavaScript·are great reads for participants who do not have any prior experience with web development.

Friday Web Services

Introduction to Geospatial web services including OGC services such as the·Web Map Service·and the·Web Feature Service, as well as tile services that deliver base maps for interactive web maps. Participants will learn how these different kinds of web services work and practice how to set up and configure different kinds of web services.

Prerequisites: The article·How does the Internet work·is a great read for participants who do not have any prior experience with web development.


Target audience

The course is designed for experienced GIS users who want to broaden their skill set with expertise in the ever-growing world of free and open source GIS. Participants are expected to have a technical background and an interest in developing comprehensive workflows using multiple software components. While we do not require any programming experience, we will be working on the command line and developing some small scripts. Participants should hence be curious to master these valuable skills.



Carsten Kessler is an Associate Director of the Center for Advanced Research of Spatial Information (CARSI Lab) and Assistant Professor for Geographic Information Science in the Department of Geography at Hunter College - CUNY.


Carsten has extensive experience in projects around open data and the exchange of geographic information, both in international research projects and as a consultant. His research interests are in the areas of information integration, volunteered geographic information, emergency management, and collaborative and participatory GIS.


He will be present for the duration of the course to support the participants in the hands-on exercises.


Location, registration and fees

The course will be held at the Department of Geography's computer lab in the Hunter North building at Lexington and 68th Street, Manhattan. Tuition fees for this course are as follows:

  • $1800 for the entire week (Section 1)
  • $800 for any two days (Section 2)
  • $435 for one day (Section 3)


Fees include access to computers and services required for the hands-on exercises, as well as a copy of the course materials for personal use.


Click here to register online
Locate 'Geography GS1' in the Course Category or enter code GISGEO-1 in the keyword search. You can also fill out our REGISTRATION FORM and email it to or fax to 212.772.4302


Header map by Stamen Design, under CC BY 3.0. Data by OpenStreetMap, under CC BY SA.

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