Skip to main content

Middle East and North Africa Studies: Data & Financial Indicators & GIS

Data Sources

Financial Indicators

GIS at Northwestern University Library

A Geographic Information System (GIS) "integrates hardware, software, and data for capturing, managing, analyzing, and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information. (ESRI)" What is GIS used for? There are many applications, spanning a wide variety of disciplines. Some examples include:

NU-affiliated faculty, staff and students can install ArcGIS Desktop on their personal computers and access desktop, mobile, server and web-based mapping applications. Use the Access GIS tab of this guide for more information.

  • ArcGIS Desktop software available from NUIT
    • NU NetID required
    • Faculty and staff may install on university-owned computers for teaching, research and administrative uses.  Installation on personal computers is allowed but only for academic, non-commercial uses.
    • Students may install on personal computers, but the software must be uninstalled when they leave the University.
    • ArcGIS Desktop will be installed with the necessary software license. Licenses will expire in February of each year and the software will cease to function.  Users must download and reinstall the latest version of ArcGIS which will then be licensed through the end of the next license period (1 year maximum).
    • ArcGIS Desktop System Requirements
    • ArcGIS Desktop Installation FAQ
  • ArcGIS Online
    • Use to create and share web-based maps. To request access to Northwestern University’s ArcGIS Online Organizational Account send an email using your Northwestern University email (; etc.) to with “ArcGIS Online Access Request” in the subject heading



If you are in need of assistance with a GIS project, please fill out the GIS Support Request Form. We look forward to working with you!

Loading ...

Learn GIS

See the box below for information about ESRI Virtual Campus: Self-Paced and Instructor-Led Training

  • Store Relative Pathnames for Data Sources

This is worth checking immediately when you sit down to do work at a computer that is not your own. Failure to do so may result in ArcMap being unable to locate your data the next time you open your map document

One-Time Fix: File>Map Document Properties>‘Store relative pathnames to data sources’

One-Login Fix: Customize>ArcMap Options>General tab>‘Make relative paths the default for new map documents’

If you accidentally forget to do this, you will likely see errors when you take your .mxd file to another computer. Upon loading your map at a new workstation you will see a series of red exclamation points appear next to your data in the Table of Contents.

Fix: Right-click > data layer>Data>Repair Data Source

  • Stop Geoprocessing Tools from Running in the Background

When running tools from the toolbox it is often useful to see a dialogue of what is happening in the program. This will help you, in particular, if something goes wrong.

One-Time Fix: Geoprocessing>Geoprocessing Options>Disable ‘Background Processing’

  • If a tool gives you the error of ‘invalid license’…

The University has purchased licenses for most ArcGIS extensions (3D Analyst, ArcScan, Geostatistical Analyst, Maplex, Network Analyst, Spatial Analyst), however the extensions may not be turned on.

One-Time Fix: Customize>Extensions…>*check* the extension you need.

  • Displaying Full Metadata Descriptions

While using ArcCatalog to investigate a dataset, it may appear that not all metadata is present. This is likely because you are only seeing the ‘Item Description’, instead of the common XML specification for describing, validating, and exchanging geographic metadata which you are potentially accustomed.

One-Time Fix: Customize>ArcCatalog Options>Metadata tab>Metadata style: ISO 19139 Metadata Implementation Specification

  • Replacing Missing Toolbars

Upon starting ArcMap on a NU machine, it is common for only the ‘Standard’ and ‘Tools’ toolbar to appear. You may want to enable other toolbars (there are many).

One-Time Fix: Customize>Toolbars>Select toolbar you need

Examples of common toolbars you might want to enable include: Draw and Layout.

  •    Fixing the Layout of ArcMap Dockable Windows

One common problem is that a dockable window (such as Table of Contents or ArcToolbox) may not be in the desired location, for example docked to the top when you would like it docked to the left. To move a docked window to a new location, drag its title bar. When you do this, blue targets appear representing the different locations where the window can be docked. Drop the window onto the target of your choice. Pause over a target to get a preview of where the window will be located if you drop it on that target. If you want the window to float over the display instead of being docked, don't drop it onto one of the blue targets.

Another common problem is when two dockable windows become tabbed over one another. To de-tab the windows, double click on one of the tabs.

The key to moving these dockable windows to the location you desire is to use the blue arrows that appear once the window is clicked. By moving your mouse to these arrows, they will appears highlighted, showing you the location of the window once you release the mouse.

Creating maps and other visualizations are an excellent way to illustrate complex ideas and concepts. This type of analysis provides new perspectives and innovation to any project. These types of skills are especially in demand in today’s workplace and make a valuable addition to any resume.

If you are affiliated as a current student, staff or faculty at Northwestern University, you may request an ArcGIS Online account which will provide you with the ability to access Geocoding services through Esri. ​

Contact us at


A variety of courses, covering several disciplines as well as general GIS techniques, are available throughout each year. Course availability and instructors vary by quarter. 

Home » Winter 2018 » WCAS » EARTH » 390-0 » 01

"Atmospheric Science" - Special Topics in Earth and Planetary Science

Introduction to GIS and Spatial Analysis for Public Health

Special Topics in Plant Biology and Conservation

Past GIS Course Offerings

  • WCAS ENVR_SCI 390 GIS II - Special Topics in Environmental Sciences
  • GEOG 343 Geographic Information Systems
  • Earth 390 Environmental Science 390 "Applied GIS" - Special Topics in Environmental Sciences
  • GEN ENG 220-2 Analy/Comp Graph II
  • PUB HLTH 425 Introduction to GIS and Spatial Analysis for Public Health 
  • GENENG 220-1 Analy/Comp Graph
  • ANTHRO 490 Mapping Space, People & Place 
  • WCAS 390 GIS for the Environmental Sciences - Special Topics in Environmental Sciences 
  • MEAS-CIV-ENG 358 Air photo Interpretation  
Loading ...