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Geography and GIS

Geography Introduction

What is Geography?

Geography is the science of space and place on Earth's surface. It focuses on the physical and human phenomena that make up the world's environments and places. Geographers describe the changing spatial patterns of places in words, maps, and geo-graphics. Geography's continuing quest is to understand the physical and cultural features of places and their settings on the surface of Earth.

Why Geography at American River College?

Geography course offerings include basic courses in Physical Geography, Cultural Geography, World Regional Geography, and California Geography which are transferable to most regional 4-year universities. American River College is proud to claim Robert Christopherson, the award-winning author of the Physical Geography textbook, Geosystems, as one of its emeritus faculty members. Courses in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are also part of the geography course offerings, and are described in a separate section.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Introduction

What is GIS?

GIS is one of the fastest growing career fields in North America. GIS is a computer based tool used to map, manage, analyze, display, and model spatial information. A GIS is a data management system capable of analyzing patterns and relationships between many different layers of mapped data simultaneously. Advantages of a GIS compared with a traditional map are the ability of the user to quickly alter the display properties, modify or introduce new data, and manipulate analysis results by changing input parameters and modifying the assumptions.

Who uses GIS?

This exciting technology has applications in many fields, including environmental assessment, analysis of natural hazards, site analysis for business and industry, criminal justice, real estate, location analysis, resource management, land use planning, and global change and systems modeling.

Why GIS at American River College?

American River College (ARC) has long been a leader in geospatial education. We offer a GIS Certificate and an A.S. Degree in GIS, with the breadth of twelve different GIS courses. ARC initiated GIS course instruction in 1997, and received approval for degree and certificate programs in May 2001. Also in 2001, ARC's GIS program received the "Excellence in Education" award from the California Geographic Information Association. The program received a "Special Achievement in GIS" award from Environmental Systems Research Institute in August 2004. In October 2018, the program won an Excellence in Education award from the California Geographic Information Association (CGIA).
ARC's GIS program was established, and continues to be guided, by a strong advisory committee. This committee is composed of professional GIS practitioners in the greater Sacramento area, including representatives of federal, state, and local government, academia, and the private sector. Many of ARC's GIS courses are taught by practicing GIS professionals who bring cutting edge, real-world perspective and experience to the classroom. The required Work Experience in Geography (GIS) course serves as an educational capstone for many students, and also provides an exposure to GIS applications in the real world. This experience often proves invaluable in job searches after graduation.
ARC is a two-year community college in Sacramento, California, and one of four colleges in the Los Rios Community College District--the second largest district in California. ARC's enrollment of nearly 35,000 ranks it among the top ten community colleges in California, and makes it the largest institution of higher learning in the Sacramento area. The college offers more than 30 certificate programs and 40 occupational degree programs. The college transfers more students to the University of California at Davis and California State University, Sacramento than any other community college.


(Interim) Dean:
Narine Madramootoo
Admin. Asst.: Saira Bettencourt
Department Chair: Hugh Howard
Phone: (916) 484-4570
Fax: (916) 484-8550


Monday - Thursday: 
7:30A - 7:00P
7:30A - 5:00P

Our 30-station Computer Lab

provides students with high end computers and printers, suitable for modern GIS data processing and display. We also have a secondary computer lab on campus. We maintain a campus-wide site license for ArcGIS, the industry-standard GIS software produced by Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI).

The Science Success Center

offers individualized instruction in reading and study skills geared to support students' efforts in various science classes.

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Visit Science Success Center