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Geospatial intelligence certificate earns national accreditation

February 24, 2021

The University of North Georgia's (UNG) geospatial intelligence certificate program within the Lewis F. Rogers Institute for Environmental and Spatial Analysis (IESA) recently earned an accreditation that puts it among 19 such programs in the nation.

The designation from the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) puts UNG in the company of schools such as the University of Southern California (USC), Johns Hopkins University, Penn State World Campus, University of Maryland, the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Air Force Academy.

UNG's certificate program combines spatial sciences, engineering and technology with intelligence tools and techniques to prepare students for leadership roles in security, disaster response, and humanitarian efforts.

Dr. Jeff Turk, director of IESA, was grateful to gain the accreditation after the two-year application process.

"It is an honor for UNG to be one of 19 institutions to have received accreditation of its geospatial intelligence program by USGIF," Turk said. "The accreditation further validates our programs, and we look forward to a very productive relationship with the USGIF community, including geospatial intelligence events, student scholarships, and expanded student career opportunities associated with an accredited program."

Dr. Steven Fleming, a professor in USC's Spatial Sciences Institute and a retired Army colonel, helped advise UNG through the accreditation process. He chairs USGIF's academic planning committee and academic advisory board. UNG is the first senior military college to earn the accreditation.

"UNG can chart the course for what other senior military colleges can do in this field," Fleming said.

The undergraduate certificate program is well suited for students who aspire to careers in geospatial intelligence at federal and state agencies or in the private sector. 

USGIF brings together government, industry, academia, professional organizations, and individuals who develop and apply geospatial intelligence to address national security concerns. 

"USGIF accreditation of IESA's geospatial intelligence certificate is a huge step forward for UNG," Dr. Billy Wells, senior vice president of leadership and global engagement and a retired Army colonel, said. "This is one more step toward UNG becoming an Intelligence Community Center for Academic Excellence, just as we have done with cybersecurity."

With numerous military bases spread throughout Georgia, for many of those who have served in uniform, geospatial intelligence is a natural area of academic interest when applying their veteran education benefits, such as the G.I. Bill, Fleming said.

Sonrisa Reed, a junior from Gainesville, Georgia, pursuing degrees in environmental spatial analysis and nursing, said the geospatial intelligence class she took last summer was a great asset.

"I enjoyed learning how actionable information is uncovered, developed and utilized to inform the critical decisions of civilian, business and military leaders," Reed said. "These were new areas of interest to me, and this class inspired me to learn more."

Dr. Huidae Cho, assistant professor of geospatial science and computing, is grateful for the benefits students will receive through the accreditation. And Zac Miller, senior lecturer in IESA at UNG, expects the recognition to boost UNG's profile.

"It provides some exposure in the geospatial intelligence industry," Miller said.

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