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What You'll Study
  • Integrating core R data wrangling skills into a geospatial workflow
  • Reading, projecting, and writing shape and raster files in R
  • Conducting spatial joins, geometric operations and data extraction
  • Conducting geospatial analyses (e.g., point pattern analysis)
  • Creation of informational and visually appealing static and interactive maps
  • Creation of interactive web applications for exploring geospatial data
Program Details

August 21 – October 15, 2023

Available Formats

Graduate (CONS 697, 3 credits)

Professional Training (SMSC 0534, 8.2 CEUs)


Graduate: See Mason’s graduate tuition rates

Professional Training: $500.00


Apply by June 26, 2023

Payment due by July 10, 2023

Meet the Faculty

Brian Evans
Brian S. Evans
Migratory Bird Ecologist
Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center
Brian has been a researcher at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center since 2007, specializing in environment-bird interactions with a focus on the landscape ecology of Greater Washington, D.C.

Course Content

This asynchronous online course aims to provide graduate students and professionals with an introduction to the increasingly powerful and flexible range of tools for working with spatial data in the R environment. The course will review core GIS concepts and the basics of R programming and build skills in raster and vector import and manipulation. The course closely integrates tidyverse functions with GIS tools to develop efficient and intuitive coding. Special emphasis will be placed on visualizing spatial data through static and interactive maps.

The course will cover 6 main topics: 1. Data wrangling using tidyverse packages (e.g., dplyr, tidyr, and purr); 2) GIS fundamentals including projections and coordinate reference systems, spatial data types, and scale; 3) Shapefiles (i.e., points, lines, polygons) and manipulating them with packages sf and sp; 4) Rasters (i.e., spatial grids) and manipulating them with the terra package; 5) Point pattern analysis (e.g., interpolation and spatial density) and 6) Visualizing spatial data with tmap, ggplot and leaflet, and creating interactive web applications with shiny.

Course Format

This format is designed to make it as accessible as possible to both professionals and graduate students who may be navigating complicated work and family schedules. Content is typically posted one week early for those looking to work ahead while time is available. Participants should expect to spend a minimum of 10 hours per week working through the course material and assignments. This minimum assumes comfort working in the R environment. Those participants requiring a completion certificate will be required to complete a subset of the weekly assignments in addition to the final project.

What’s Included

The total cost for professional training covers weekly access to:

  • 1-2 hrs. of recorded presentations (code-along exercises and slides with audio) introducing new theory and concepts
  • One or more well commented R Markdown files teaching new analytical tools
  • At least one assignment, where participants will adapt the demonstration code to complete a GIS workflow and answer a series of questions
  • An optional live Q & A session (Fridays 10:45-11:30 am ET)
  • An optional live assignment review session (Mondays, 10:30-11:45 am ET)
  • Two opportunities for “virtual office hours” with the instructor (Th 8:00-9:30 am; Fr 1:30-2:45 pm ET)

Software and Programs

All exercises and some lectures will be performed in R, through the user-friendly interface RStudio. Pre-course work will be suggested for all participants not completely comfortable with the program R. All participants should be comfortable working in the R environment by the time the course begins.

Acceptance does not guarantee you a seat in the course. Seats are allocated as registration payments are received, and early registration is strongly encouraged to ensure you get a spot.

Email for additional information.

Take the next step toward a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity