ESRI Geography Instructor, Dr. Joseph Kerski @josephkerski: A Day in the GeoLife Series

NAME: Dr. Joseph Kerski


Education Manager, Esri
Instructor, University of Denver
Instructor, Elmhurst University
Instructor, North Park University


Earth Science



BA University of Colorado, Geography
MA University of Kansas, Geography
PhD University of Colorado, Geography 


TWITTER NAME: @josephkerski

What’s your job like?

My focus is: promoting spatial thinking and analysis in all levels of education, from primary to university and lifelong learning, globally, in formal and informal educational settings. My typical day (detailed in my Day in the Life of a geographer video here: involves:

(1) constructing GIS related curriculum using analytical and field tools such as ArcGIS Pro, ArcGIS Online, Survey123, story maps, and others;

(2) creating and giving blog essays, podcasts, videos, presentations to a wide variety of audiences, but focused on education and educators;

(3) teaching in online (courses, webinars) and face to face settings (conferences, universities, special events) about how and why to use geotechnologies to teach and conduct research in geography, GIS, earth science, history, computer science, engineering, business, health, data science, and in other fields and disciplines;

(4) conducting research in the implementation and effectiveness of GIS in education;

(5) partnering with government agencies, professional societies, academia, associations, nonprofit organizations, and private industry to advance and further the use of spatial thinking and analysis throughout education and society. 

Geography Instructor
Joseph J. Kerski, Ph.D., GISP

What’s a typical day like?

A typical day for me is often at a university. I visited 39 campuses in 2019 alone, or sometimes at a school, conducting a workshop or a presentation or meeting with students and faculty and listening to their challenges and needs, and sharing GIS tools, spatial data, methods, and best practices. I also teach online in currently three different universities and have advised MOOCs in many others and at Esri. Other typical days include at conferences and events, teaching and advising, or in the Esri office, meeting with colleagues, writing curriculum, or making plans to reach specific education communities (such as Schools of Business). I also spend time each day helping people with technical and pedagogical challenges that they may have with data or GIS tools. I also spend time most days posting notes about content that I have created to social media, and connecting people and organizations together, again to advance geographic content knowledge, skills, and the spatial perspective.  

What’s fun?

Getting out into the field with students is a rare thing for me but when it happens, I love it. I am a great fan of landscapes that many would find ordinary but I greatly enjoy–coasts, deserts, mountains, prairies, agricultural fields and narrow city lanes, tundra, caves, and much more. I also am an amateur musician and explore the connections between geography and music; including the creation of dozens of geography parody music videos.  

Geography Presenter
Joseph Kerski, Ph.D., GISP

What’s challenging?

(1) Keeping pace with rapid changes in education and in technology, specifically geotechnologies (remote sensing, GNSS, GIS, web mapping).

(2) Being as effective as possible helping educators and students meet their needs. 

What’s your advice to students?

  • Be tenacious.
  • Ask deep and rich questions.
  • Keep moving forward in your use of geotechnologies.
  • READ.
  • EXPLORE the world–collect data, yes, but also enjoy our unique Earth.
  • Understand geographic foundations (surficial geology, datums, projections, scale, and so on).
  • Embrace systems thinking.
  • Scale matters!
  • Be an encouragement to others.
  • Give back to the community.
  • Thank your mentors.
  • Pursue your dreams. 

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