The W. E. Upjohn Center for the Study of GIS and Geographical Change at Western Michigan University continues a tradition of over 20 years of supporting administrative decision making through spatial awareness. Beginning as a Groundwater Education in Michigan Center in the early 1990’s, we have evolved into a GIS research center with specialties in conversion of paper data to GIS-ready georeferenced images and geodatabases.
Mary Upjohn Meader and Edwin E. Meader sponsored the center with a generous gift in October 2005. Examples of Mary's aerial photography are on display in the Center’s gallery. The center honors Mary's grandfather, Dr. W.E. Upjohn, visionary founder of the Upjohn Company. In 2015, the Upjohn Center for the Study of Geographical Change at Western Michigan University extended its mission to provide GIScience training and research applications.
Our donors enthusiastically supported our mission of protecting and preserving two-dimensional pre-digital geographical materials—maps, charts, atlases and air photos. Uncounted collections of these types of materials exist, owned by private collectors or curated in museums, libraries and governmental institutions. But many of these treasures are deteriorating or being lost. The center assists in preserving these historical objects, enabling universal access to their precise digital facsimiles at the highest resolution attainable.
Spatial decision support
Geographic information science services enable data-driven administrative decision-making at all levels of public service. The center has a long history of providing geospatial services to county and local governments, state and federal agencies and interdisciplinary projects at WMU and across educational institutions.
Our foray into cartographic research was fueled by donors who enthusiastically supported our preserving two-dimensional pre-digital geographical materials. We bring historical maps, charts, atlases and air photos into the digital age through scanning, georeferencing, delivery in the newest formats for mobile devices and geographic information systems analysis. The work assists in preserving these historical objects, enabling universal access to their precise digital facsimiles at the highest resolution attainable.
The W.E. Upjohn Center supports the educational mission of the Department of Geography and the College of Arts and Sciences by providing:
- Internships for undergraduate students.
- Research opportunities for graduate assistants.
- Cartographic and spatial analysis support for graduate student theses and dissertations in non-geographic disciplines.
- Supplemental instruction for coursework in GIS and project management.