Research Committee, Working Group 3

Initiative on Convergence Research of GIScience, Humanities, and Social Sciences


  • Xinyue Ye (Leader), Texas A&M University
  • Chen Xu (Co-Leader), University of Wyoming
  • Wenwen Li, Arizona State University
  • Yongmei Lu, Texas State University – San Marcos
  • Shih-Lung Shaw, University of Tennessee
  • Daoqin Tong, Arizona State University
  • Xinyue Ye, Texas A&M University
  • Zhe Zhang, Texas A&M University
  • Lei Zou, Texas A&M University

GIS technologies and GIScience methods are traditionally rooted on the concept of absolute space, Cartesian coordinates, and Euclidean geometry, and employ quantitative methods. Conversely, the humanities and social sciences tend to be concerned with place rather than space and privilege the use of qualitative methods and techniques. As a result, while GIS and GIScience are increasingly being used in humanities and social science research, they face many challenges and limitations when addressing the research needs of scholars in the humanities and social sciences. There is an epistemological dilemma where GIScience in general advantages reductionism and humanities prefer holism. A dynamic ontological structure could be a foundation for facilitating convergence research among these fields. The interaction of social sciences and cybernetics has shed light on possible dynamics, but the literature in general is unfamiliar to GIScientists. By encouraging and supporting a dialogue across disciplinary boundaries we can explore innovative and creative ways of bringing human dimensions and human perspectives to GIScience. Such efforts not only will make GIScience and GIS more relevant and useful to research in the humanities and social sciences but will also help shape future research and education directions of GIScience.

The scope of this initiative will include a survey of the relevant research communities to collect inputs to questions such as:

  1. What are the key challenges of creating convergent research across the humanities, social sciences, and GIScience?
  2. What would be the benefits of such collaborations to the humanities, social sciences, and GIScience?
  3. What are the key research challenges of bringing human dimensions and human perspectives into GIScience?
  4. What kinds of curriculum are needed to teach such convergence research?
  5. What are additional topics that need to be addressed to move this convergence research initiative forward?