Intro to R as GIS

For the past two years I have served as one of two student representatives on the US-IALE executive committee. One of the major things we do in addition to providing a student voice on the ExComm is organize a students-only half-day workshop at our annual meeting. This is offered at no-cost to students attending the conference and we try to do things relevant to the field. In 2015 our chapter hosted the IALE World Congress in Portland, Oregon and with an eye on software that many students are learning to use we (ambitiously) put together an introductory workshop on manipulating and analyzing spatial data using R. We were able to recruit three other people to help develop and deliver the workshop, and managed to cram the whole thing into 4 hours.


Karl providing some guidance during the workshop – equally possible that he’s saying, “I haven’t seen that error before…”

Given that we unleashed a barely controlled firehose of R on the attendees, I think that overall it went okay. Given the material I think it would work better as a 6-8 hour workshop with the option for attendees to bring/use their own data. Maybe this is the way it should be set up from the start, i.e. here is a dataset that I know it works with, now try and do it with your own. I haven’t organized or been a part of delivering many workshops, but I learned a lot and really enjoyed the experience.

If you want to check it out the workshop materials the are freely available here on GitHub.


2 thoughts on “Intro to R as GIS

  1. Hi,

    I just stumbled onto your blog by accident trying to remember the names of the packages we used during the IALE 2015 workshop (shutting down the server at work before leaving for the day is never a good thing) and just wanted to thank all of you organizing it! Even with the small hiccups it was a great eye opener, at least for me, in what potential there is in R for GIS and spatial data visualisation and analysis. I had a great time and am still working using it more, both in research and education.

    Again, thank you for taking the time to put the thing together.

    All the best,
    Johan Pihel, Swedish University of agricultural sciences

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad that it has been useful and helpful for you! It’s always a challenge to balance content with experience in a short amount of time, especially since it’s not something any one of us was teaching regularly. Comments are appreciated to help improve it for next time. Cheers!


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