When Ross Newkirk and I started a course in GIS at the University of Western Ontario in Canada in 1975, we hoped to introduce some of the students in the undergraduate geography program to a new kind of computer application, one that seemed to have enormous promise. Thirty years later, that promise has been realized in spades. GIS courses are available at almost all universities and colleges and are enthusiastically received by students in majors ranging from geography to criminology, from environmental studies to civil engineering. It would be hard for anyone majoring in any of the sciences dealing with the earth's surface to avoid at least hearing about GIS, and courses are even available in some of the humanities-at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), for example, one can learn about GIS applications from a professor interested in the sacred meanings of space in Japanese culture. The number of students taking GIS courses each year in the United States alone is certainly in the tens of thousands and worldwide may exceed 100,000.

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