Journal of Geodesy and Geoinformation Science ›› 2022, Vol. 5 ›› Issue (3): 7-18.doi: 10.11947/j.JGGS.2022.0302

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Proliferation of Cartographic Education in the Age of Big Data

Liqiu MENG()   

  1. Chair of Cartography and Visual Analytics, Technical University of Munich, Munich 80333, Germany
  • Received:2022-06-24 Accepted:2022-08-25 Online:2022-09-20 Published:2022-11-17
  • About author:Liqiu MENG, E-mail:


Maps have long been a part of everyday life for the general public, and even more so in today’s knowledge society. No doubt, cartography as a profession of map design is assuming a more important role in the formation of intellectual skills in terms of spatial reasoning. Since its emergence as an academic discipline about 100 years ago, cartography has undergone many paradigm shifts. Its interaction with other disciplines has also constantly unfolded. These changes have left traces in cartographic education programs. In the age of big data, however, we are facing four fundamental challenges: (1) cartographic courses are being marginalized or even disappearing from degree programs in geospatial sciences; (2) the role of cartographers is increasingly eclipsed as a side effect of participatory cartography; (3) cartographers are blamed whenever something goes wrong with map use; and (4) professional map publishers can hardly compete with online mapping platforms dominated by Internet giants. Based on a contextual analysis of this seemingly gloomy situation, the paper reveals a number of proliferation points for the design of future cartographic curricula. First, cartography, once dedicated to supporting geospatial sciences, is thriving in the soil of data science, mapping not only the earth or other celestial bodies, but literally any kind of virtual space. Second, cartography has benefited from theoretical and technological advances in cognitive sciences, especially non-intrusive user studies, so that spatial cognition is becoming an integral component of cartographic education. Third, the role of scapegoat for wrongdoing of maps has accentuated cartographer’s overarching responsibility for quality and ethical issues in the geodata value chain. Finally, the diversification of the labor market requires new approaches to prepare future talents for a coopetition-oriented ecosystem in the marketplace.

Key words: transdisciplinary; spatial cognition; transparency; inclusiveness; online mapping platform