Geog 1502: Mapping Our World

In Mapping Our World, we learn how maps and other spatial technologies like phones, drones, and GPS work. We use professional web-based tools to make maps for class, jobs, and fun.  Along the way, we see how mapping is a useful lens through which to view interactions between technology and society, and see how map technology saves lives, rigs elections, and spies on you and everyone else.

Key features
  • The course is completely online and quite flexible. There is a weekly tempo in that most assignments are due on a certain date, but you may complete most assignments any time during the week. The exception is that for some activities, you work with your instructor, TAs, and fellow students over a one-day or two-day window.
  • The course uses online readings, lectures, activities, and labs.
  • All materials are free, including an online textbook, labs, and web-mapping tools.
  • Fulfills TWO LE requirements, the Social Sciences Core and the Society and Technology Theme.
  • Prerequisites: None
  • Credit: 3 units
  • Help is available. We hold hours of office hours every weekday.


Learning Objectives

  • Students who successfully complete this course will be able to read, use, and create maps informed by a contextual understanding of how maps reflect the relationship between society and technology. 
  • They will understand how mapping is an essential form of social science inquiry and how mapping helps us understand the social world and issues such as land use planning and political gerrymandering.
  • Students will gain hands-on experience with making their own maps with a variety of technologies, ranging from paper and pencil to web-based maps and satellite data, and gain insight into underlying engineering and science of geospatial technologies.
  • This course can be used to gain insight into the technical underpinnings of mapping as a social science approach for later courses, complement on-going interest and activities, or provide an applied focus for research or policy.


We focus on participation in hands-on class exercises, completing online labs, and two online exams.
15% Midterm exam
15% Final exam
20% Class participation through activities
50% Online labs with web-mapping and other technologies

Exam Format

There are two mid-term exams; there is no final exam. Both exams are multiple choice and open book.

Class Format

All parts of the class are online:

30% Lecture
20% Discussion
20% Small group activities
30% Web-based labs


10 Pages reading per week
10 Pages writing per semester
2 Exams (online, open-book, and multiple choice)

Quick links

Fall 2017

Hand globe