Steven Manson contributes to innovative geospatial research and teaching at the Spatial University

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Steven Manson, Professor of Geography, Environment and Society, has long been recognized for his insightful work examining various facets of human-environmental systems, focusing on land change, complex population-environment dynamics, and human well-being. His new book on Data Science for Human-Environment Systems (Cambridge University Press), published in February 2023, is the first of its kind and meets a demand for a deep and balanced view on the pros and cons of big data for a range of human-environment problems and systems (e.g., climate change, land change, extreme weather). He was also the lead editor of the book Building the Spatial University (Springer 2022) that goes in depth on U-Spatial and other spatial activities across the University of Minnesota campuses.

In addition to these recent publications, he is a key contributor to several big data projects funded by National Institute of Health, National Science Foundation, and the Department of Justice that create, curate, and disseminate harmonized data. This includes his work as principal investigator (PI) for the National Historical Geographic Information System (NHGIS) project, the largest publicly accessible population database in the world, and as Co-PI of the International Historical GIS (IHGIS), which captures and disseminates the world’s agricultural and population censuses. These projects create data and websites used by tens of thousands of researchers, students, policy makers, and members of the public.

Manson is also a respected educator. He has been instrumental in developing many key GIS courses including introductory and advanced GIS, spatial analysis, and human-environment applications of GIS. He is particularly excited by his work with the online version of Geography 1502: Mapping Our World. The course currently enrolls 600 students (a significant increase from the 50 students it used to enroll!) He and his graduate students developed the companion open access textbook for the course, Maps, Society, and Technology, which has been used by over 25,000 students around the world and was recently translated into Spanish. Here at the University of Minnesota, students save over $150,000 annually in textbook costs by using this free resource. Most recently, he joined Paul Bolstad, Professor of Forest Resources, as coauthor of GIS fundamentals: A First Text on Geographic Information Systems, a popular GIS text that has been used at hundreds of institutions over two decades. Steve has also played an active role in the MGIS program by making contributions to its administration, curriculum, and advising of students.

We are pleased to have Steve back in the Geography, Environment and Society department after his successful tenure as Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs in the College of Liberal Arts and thank him for his many contributions to the department, the university, and the field!

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