International Journal of Geographical Information Science Special Issue Call for Papers

Teaching Critical GIS

International Journal of Geographical Information Science

In spite of over a decade of rich literature on the theory and practice of critical GIS, there has been surprisingly little written on the teaching of critical GIS. This raises interesting pedagogical questions not easily answered. For instance: is critical GIS being taught separately from conventional GIS? Is critical GIS embedded within conventional GIS curriculum? Is critical GIS being taught at all? And if so, what are the reigning methodological and theoretical perspectives and assumptions? What sorts of GIS activities are linked to critical GIS in the classroom? How well do students (and their prospective employers) adapt to a critical GIS approach?

A handful of recent surveys have indicated that attention to critical GIS in the classroom or GIS lab is minimal (e.g. Wikle and Fagin 2011, 2014). However, the intersection of student, software, hardware and theory creates an entirely different level of discourse that may not be easily captured by survey questions or syllabus analysis. The art of successfully teaching any kind of GIS is not without its own set of problems. Too frequently GIS classes threaten to devolve into never-ending bouts of software training no matter what the philosophical basis. Is critical GIS better equipped to deal with this problem?

We suggest that a GIS journal such as International Journal of Geographical Information Science (IJGIS) to be an ideal forum to stage such discussions, so that the conversation can be broadly focused on critical GIS, taught and practiced by actual GIS practitioners and not simply on critical theories about GIS – a worthy topic, but a different one. The discussion is marginally about GIS curriculum standards, but more fundamentally about the ways curriculum standards are translated into successful mastery of critical GIS concepts and skills via the classroom and lab.


We propose a special issue of IJGIS devoted to the topic of teaching critical GIS. We welcome conventional article-length submissions that address, broadly, issues relating to critical GIS curriculum design, pedagogy, and practice. Papers should be of 'normal' IJGIS length, form and standard. 'Normal' length is about 18-25 published pages. A double-spaced MS, with separate figures, of about 50 pages comes out at about the right length. Any form of prior publication of these papers (particularly in conference proceedings as anything other than short abstracts) means that we would not consider them for further publication in the journal.

Papers should be submitted to us through the IJGIS ScholarOne Manuscripts™ portal by 30 November 2016.

Editorial information

  • Co-Editor: Nadine Schuurman
  • Co-Editor: Stacy Warren