Sunday, August 19, 2012

University of Salzburg establishes Geoinformatics as interdisciplinary domain

[see below for German language text ]

University of Salzburg establishes Geoinformatics as interdisciplinary domain
Combining the success stories of the previous “Centre for Geoinformatics” with the Austrian Academy of Sciences’ “Institute for Geographic Information Science”, the University of Salzburg on August 1, 2012 has founded its new “Interfaculty Department of Geoinformatics – Z_GIS”. This step acknowledges the important new interdisciplinary positioning with Geoinformatics at the intersections of technical, natural and social sciences.

The University of Salzburg with this department enhances its internationally recognized focus on research and education in Geoinformatics. More than 70 faculty and staff in the units GIScience, Integrated Spatial Analysis, Communication & GISociety, Capacity Building and Spatial Data Infrastructures contribute to research projects and address problems in science, business, society and environment.
Research-led teaching and learning will be a core responsibility: the international PhD program excels with its flagship doctoral college in GIScience, the English language MSc in ‘Applied Geoinformatics’ attracts and graduates top students from many countries, and substantial Geoinformatics content is contributed to the Geography bachelor program. Of course the worldwide leading UNIGIS distance learning program is part of the new department as well.

Led by professors Josef Strobl and Thomas Blaschke, the Interfaculty Department of Geoinformatics is demonstrating a pathway which might serve as a role model for university organization worldwide: Geoinformatics being established as a trans-disciplinary subject beyond the constraints of traditional faculties and schools, it is subject to direct quality assurance through competitive research funding, pursues international cooperation in projects and educational programs, and aims at leadership in several core competences.

The well established brand of ‘Z_GIS’ is retained as the banner for ‘Geoinformatics Salzburg’, the new organizational framework together with well-proven experience will be the foundation of our 25th annual AGIT conference and GI_Forum in July 2013. We are looking forward to again meet peers and friends from the geospatial community to discuss insights from an academic organization making ‘spatial’ an integrated perspective across the university.

Universität Salzburg gründet interdisziplinären Geoinformatik Fachbereich
Aufbauend auf dem Erfolgsmodell des ‘Zentrum für Geoinformatik’ und unter Einbeziehung des bisherigen Geographic Information Science Instituts der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften hat die Universität Salzburg per 1.8.2012 den ‘Interfakultären Fachbereich Geoinformatik – Z_GIS’ eingerichtet – ein Signal, dass diese Disziplin an den Schnittstellen von Technik, Naturwissenschaft und Sozialwissenschaft integrativ wirkende, neue und wichtige Impulse setzt.

Damit verstärkt sich in Salzburg der international anerkannte Forschungs- und Lehrschwerpunkt in Geoinformatik, mehr als 70 MitarbeiterInnen tragen in den Abteilungen GIScience, Integrated Spatial Analysis, Communication & GISociety, Capacity Building und Spatial Data Infrastructures erfolgreich zu innovativen Projekten und der Lösung von Problemen aus Wissenschaft, Wirtschaft, Gesellschaft und Umwelt bei.
Auch im Bereich der forschungsgeleiteten Lehre werden neue Standards gesetzt: das internationale Doktoratsprogramm wird durch das ‘Flaggschiff’ des Doktoratskollegs ‘GIScience’ weiterentwickelt, das ebenso englischsprachige Masterstudium ‘Applied Geoinformatics’ erfreut sich großen Interesses und exzellenter AbsolventInnen, und in den Bachelor Geographie werden starke geoinformatische Akzente eingebracht. Selbstverständlich sind die weltweit führenden UNIGIS Fernstudien im neuen Fachbereich angesiedelt.

Unter der Leitung der Professoren Josef Strobl und Thomas Blaschke stellt sich der nunmehrige Interfakultäre Fachbereich Geoinformatik Herausforderungen, die für die Organisation der Geoinformatik an Universitäten weltweit richtungweisend sein können: fächerübergreifende Orientierung der Geoinformatik ohne die Zwänge der traditionellen Fakultätsrahmen und damit Aufstellung als transversale Disziplin, unmittelbare Erfolgskontrolle durch hochgradige Direktfinanzierung in Projekten und Kooperationen, internationale Orientierung der Ausbildung und Anspruch an Spitzenleistungen in Schwerpunktthemen.
Die kompakte Marke ‘Z_GIS’ bleibt weiterhin als Erkennungsmerkmal für ‘Geoinformatik Salzburg’ erhalten, neue Organisationsform und bewährte Kompetenz werden damit auch hinter dem 25. AGIT-Symposium im Juli 2013 stehen. Spätestens dort freuen wir uns, mit KollegInnen und der Geoinformatik-Community Erfahrungen au seiner universitären Organisation zu diskutieren, die ‘spatial’ als fächerübergreifende Perspektive auch organisatorisch verankert.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Sustainable Universities – Department of Geoinformatics (Z_GIS) receives Sustainability Award

The Austrian Sustainability Award is a joint initiative of the Federal Ministry of Science and Research (BMBF) and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management and was established in 2007 as a means of promoting and increasing awareness for sustainability processes within higher education institutions in Austria. Since 2008 the initiative supports academic pioneers in this field by tendering a nationwide “Sustainability Award” every two years as an incentive for sustainable higher education.

This year, for the third time, the award honored existing projects or initiatives of ambitious and committed pioneers within Austrian universities in eight distinct categories concerning different aspects of university organization. An interdisciplinary jury of experts from science and research, business, culture and media has evaluated 77 innovative projects and initiatives from 22 different academic institutions (universities, universities of applied sciences, universities of education, etc.) all over Austria. 

In the category “Communication and Decision-making” the University of Salzburg’s Department of Geoinformatics (Z_GIS) was awarded an excellent second place with its project “Tackling Climate Change”. Moreover, the University of Salzburg’s “PLUS Green Campus” project “Green Meeting – nachhaltig tagen an der Universität Salzburg” was awarded third place in the category “Regional Cooperation”.

2nd prize
A joint study conducted by the United Nations Environment Programme in cooperation with the International Organization for Migration, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the United Nations University, the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel and the University of Salzburg’s Centre for Geoinformatics has analyzed regional trends in temperature, rainfall, droughts and flooding over the past 40 years and their implications for the availability of natural resources, migration and conflict in 17 West African countries. Moreover, an innovative mapping process was utilized to identify 19 "climate hotspots" where climatic changes have been the most severe and which warrant focused adaptation planning as well as other follow-up activities.

Stefan Lang |
Michael Hagenlocher |
Daniel Hölbling |

3rd prize
The PLUS Green Campus Sustainability Initiative at the University of Salzburg aims to make the University a sustainable and environmentally-friendly institution. One “green vision” is to organize conferences and workshops according to the principles of environmental compatibility and sustainability. The organization and management of scientific and cultural events of any scale are part of the daily life at the University of Salzburg.

For this reason, a Green Meeting catalogue was developed. The Objective of this guide was to provide a practical framework of guidelines for the university’s staff to align events at the University of Salzburg to environmentally responsible and resource-saving criteria.  In January 2012, the Green Meeting Guide officially launched and the first events organized by its criteria.

Bernhard Zagel |
Daniela Weinhäupl |