Value Proposition & Benefits of Membership

The University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS) is a non-profit scientific and educational organization comprised of 60+ member and affiliate institutions. It was established in 1995 to advance research in the field of Geographic Information Science, expand and strengthen multidisciplinary Geographic Information Science education, and advocate policies for the promotion of the ethical use of and access to geographic information and technologies, by building and supporting scholarly communities and networks. UCGIS is the hub for the GIS research and education community in higher education in the United States, and serves as a national and international voice to advocate for its members’ interests. 

Institutional membership in UCGIS provides many benefits, described in detail below and available for download (pdf, last updated January 2021).  Looking for a quick membership overview?  Here's a simple member benefits flyer (pdf, last updated January 2021). 

Research, Teach, and Learn in the Geospatial Sciences

  • Specialized training and career-enhancement for graduate students and junior faculty. For example, in 2017 and 2019, we held week-long NSF-supported Summer Schools focused on building practical experiences working with CyberGIS at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and work in teams to address problems across themes of big data and reproducibility and replicability, among others. Each time, over 30 graduate students and early career scholars received $2000 grants to enable their participation.  Currently pending proposals would continue to fund these programs over the next five years.  
  • Open access to analytical functionality of the BoK. As its steward, we maintain and publish the one and only Geographic Information Science & Technology Body of Knowledge (GIS&T BoK). This resource for students, educators, and professionals documents the core knowledge for our discipline and serves as a comprehensive touchstone for our dynamic discipline. Upcoming enhancements will support digitally-enabled design and planning of courses and curricula, and enable evaluation of professional readiness and job qualifications.
  • Contributing to the next generations of geospatial science, nationally and globally. We help scholars and educators from our member institutions engage with both basic and applied research. For example, the Open Knowledge Network for Spatial Decision Support is another recently funded NSF project with which UCGIS is involved. The GIS&T BoK plays a role here too as we demonstrate its utility across numerous application areas.
  • Opportunities to leverage our network and expertise. We collaborate with our institutional members and partners on grant proposals (info here, pdf). Our areas of expertise, national reach, and low overhead rates contribute well to ideas that seek expanded capacity and a wide scope.

Experience Geospatial Professional Development

  • Front-of-the-line access to and knowledge about our programs. For example, in 2017 UCGIS and the University of Maine received a generous grant from the National Science Foundation for a 40-month program of professional development activities and resource-development for women in the geospatial sciences, titled TRELIS (Training and Retaining Leaders in STEM-Geospatial Sciences). The first TRELIS workshop was held in May 2018 in Madison, Wisconsin, the second took place in June 2019 in Washington, D. C., and the third was held virtually during 2020-21, and a 4th cohort will be recruited in winter 2022 and meet in June 2022! We make sure to announce such opportunities early and often to our member institutions.
  • Free registrations to our webinars. Through our ongoing Webinar series, we offer timely knowledge and inspiration about a diverse range of relevant geospatial topics, and some are open only to members.
  • Free registration to our workshops. Our pre- and post-Symposium Workshops are always available at no charge to those from member institutions who attend our Symposium.
  • Open channels of communication to remain current and voice your opinions on national and international fronts. We are actively engaged with a variety of national geospatial organizations, such as the Coalition of Geospatial Organizations (COGO) and the GIS Certification Institute (GISCI), so that we can monitor current trends and identify key issues that will impact our community, and provide our members with access to voice their opinions to key stakeholders, for topics such as the  Geospatial Data Act of 2018. Worldwide, we coordinate Memoranda of Understanding with sister geospatial organizations, such as the Association of Geographic Information Labs in Europe (AGILE), the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo), the International Cartographic Association (ICA), the Australasian Spatial Information Education and Research Association (ASIERA), and YouthMappers.

 Connect, Network, and Be Recognized within the Higher Education GIScience Community

  • Enjoy heavily discounted registration fees for our events. At our annual Symposia, participants share and learn around diverse GIScience topics that are particularly timely and relevant for our higher education community, and the collegial environment is optimal for networking.
  • Begin your career by being seen, heard, and honored. During the Symposia, we highlight the scholarly achievements of students from UCGIS member institutions, offering Student Scholarship Awards. In 2020, five students received awards for their posters at the Symposium.
  • Eligibility to make nominations for prestigious Awards. We recognize leaders in GIScience through our series of hallmark annual Awards (Education, Research, and Carolyn Merry Mentoring), and our UCGIS Fellows Program. Scholars worldwide are eligible recipients, but nominations can come only from within our member and partnership community.
  • Free posting of announcements, job ads, and other targeted information our website and via our list-serve.  Non-members pay $200/posting for this service.
  • Develop and display leadership skills at the national level. Our Board of Directors, Officers, and Committee members are elected or appointed positions held by individuals from our numerous member universities, and the GIS&T BoK’s Editorial Team is comprised almost entirely of UCGIS-affiliated scholars. Being a member of our leadership team is an unequaled opportunity for recognized service to our discipline.

Our activities are possible because of our member institutions, and in turn we enable the faculty, academic staff, and students of our member institutions to participate and contribute. Our size allows us to be both flexible and responsive in support of our members, while our scope reaches throughout the geospatial academic community in higher education. Have your voice be heard within that community by being part of the UCGIS network.