GIS Institute

The GIS Institute is an intensive two-week course focused on visualization, management, and analysis of geographic data. The Institute is a partnership between S4, the Brown University LibraryEarthLab, and the Population Studies and Training Center. The GIS institute allows participants to refine and/or develop spatial/geographic research questions with guidance and critical feedback from Brown University faculty. For additional information about the Institute, see links to the left.

Doctoral students who complete the institute will become S4 Fellows. Through a mix of lectures, exercises, and faculty-guided discussions the GIS institute provides a broad-based multi-disciplinary introduction to spatial analysis and spatial data visualization.  Participants have the opportunity to build databases and skills that will be of immediate use in their research.


At the GIS institute you will learn to manage spatial data, conduct geographic analysis, and communicate spatial concepts. Our goals for the institute are to teach you to:

  • Make maps and communicate about spatial patterns
  • Create, edit, and query spatial data
  • Conduct sophisticated spatial analysis including spatial regression analysis and other techniques.

The two-week long Institute is an immersion in Geographic Information Systems as well as an opportunity to integrate spatial data and concepts into ongoing research. Expertise from across the university will be brought together to provide training and background in GIS and related tools and techniques.

Core Instructors

  • Frank Donnelly: GIS, Cartography, Spatial Databases, Data Sources, Census Data
  • Kevin Mwenda: GIS, Geocoding, Spatial Analysis/Statistics
  • Seda Şalap-Ayça: GIS, Raster Analysis, Spatial Analysis/Statistics
  • Guixing Wei: GIS, Geocoding, Programming in R and Python, Spatial Analysis/Statistics


The Institute is open to the Brown University community. There is no financial obligation for participating in the Institute. No prior training in GIS is necessary. 

Individuals who wish to attend the Institute must submit an application including a short abstract of the research they would like to conduct as part of the Institute. We anticipate projects that will contribute to dissertations and other ongoing research activities. These might take the form of core analysis, a chapter or manuscript, or other essential element of the dissertation or research program. Prospective participants are encouraged to discuss the Institute with their supervisory team and/or S4 related faculty about potential research projects. At the conclusion of the institute, all participants will be required to present their project results.