ESRI and NITLE Enter Partnership

Memorandum of Understanding Will Expand GIS Use in Liberal Arts Colleges

Georgetown, Texas — April 27, 2010 — The National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE) and ESRI have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will promote sustainable, cross-curricular uses of geographic information system (GIS) technology throughout NITLE’s network of liberal arts colleges. NITLE, a nonprofit leader in the liberal arts space, helps small colleges and universities develop mission-centric approaches that effectively integrate inquiry, pedagogy, and technology. ESRI is a market leader in GIS that provides complete technical solutions for desktop, mobile, server, and Internet platforms.

ESRI and NITLE are collaborating to determine how liberal arts colleges can better promote spatial thinking and problem solving among students and educators. The development of critical thinking skills is a cornerstone of a liberal arts education. Sean Connin, program officer for science and technology at NITLE, says, “Because GIS is a cross-disciplinary technology, it is an ideal tool to help students integrate information in a spatial and temporal context and develop unique insights about the world.”

The goals of the MOU include promoting spatial competencies on campus, facilitating cost-effective professional development in GIS, providing campuses with access to GIS software and support, and connecting academic experts to create and promote new GIS curricular materials.

“New models for geospatial support and teaching in the liberal arts are a necessary response to ongoing transformations in spatial technology, communication, and study,” added Connin. By partnering with ESRI, NITLE is seeking to advocate for next-generation strategies that advance spatial teaching and research at small, liberal arts colleges and reduce barriers for these colleges to support these activities.

Observes Toni Fisher, higher education manager at ESRI, “GIS isn’t just about geography; it is a learning platform that promotes analytical thinking in a cross-disciplinary environment. Students in the social sciences, such as history, anthropology, and political science, can all benefit from using GIS. Many of the existing members of NITLE are currently using ESRI software and are looking to take full advantage of its capabilities. This MOU will help spread the understanding and use of this important technology.”

For more information about ESRI’s higher education program visit:

About the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education

NITLE (pronounced “nightly”) helps liberal arts colleges and universities integrate inquiry, pedagogy, and technology. More than 140 institutions in the NITLE Network use its offerings to enrich undergraduate education and strengthen the liberal arts tradition. Established in 2001 with support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, NITLE is the key organization for small colleges seeking to engage students, use and manage technology strategically to advance their missions, and anticipate the impact of emerging technologies.

About ESRI

Since 1969, ESRI has been giving customers around the world the power to think and plan geographically. The market leader in GIS, ESRI software is used in more than 300,000 organizations worldwide including each of the 200 largest cities in the United States, most national governments, more than two-thirds of Fortune 500 companies, and more than 7,000 colleges and universities. ESRI applications, running on more than one million desktops and thousands of Web and enterprise servers, provide the backbone for the world’s mapping and spatial analysis. ESRI is the only vendor that provides complete technical solutions for desktop, mobile, server, and Internet platforms. (

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