Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a fundamental tool for the study of geo-spatial information. As such, it is a critical component for the analysis of coastlines and watersheds. Both students and faculty within the Coastal Studies program draw upon its considerable abilities for their work. Moreover, GIS lends itself to multidisciplinary investigations that can simultaneously relate natural and social factors on the same spatial scales – another objective of the CCWS.
GIS is a tool that transcends interdisciplinary boundaries. An environmental scientist might use GIS to track soil erosion in a watershed or pollution sources. Archaeologists commonly use GIS to study the spatial relationships among artifacts and geological data from sites in local or regional contexts. Sociologists, political scientists, and historians use GIS to examine spatial and temporal trends in social phenomena like poverty, environmental discrimination, voting patterns, and dispersal patterns of selected populations.
By forming partnerships with other institutions that can provide access to such environments CCWS make available the local infrastructure necessary for conducting field research and teaching (e.g. research vessels, flowing seawater systems, and shore-side lab facilities).