Steven Manson is a professor in the Department of Geography, Environment, and Society at the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities and Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs for the College of Liberal Arts. He also directs the Human-Environment Geographic Information Science lab.

Dr. Manson combines environmental research, social science, and geographic information science to understand complex human-environment systems. He teaches in the areas of geographic information science and spatial analysis of human-environment systems.

He is a Resident Fellow at the Institute on the Environment and Scholar of the College in the College of Liberal Arts. He is a past NASA New Investigator in Earth-Sun System Science and NASA Earth System Science Fellow. He received the Young Scholar Award from the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science, the Sustainability Science Award from the Ecological Society of America, and a University of Minnesota McKnight Land Grant Professorship.

Profiles and news

Manson with monitorDr. Manson and colleagues have garnered external funding — including $8 million from NIH and NSF— to advance the big data of human-environment research and deal with deserts in the deluge of big data. He is the Principal Investigator (PI) for the National Historical Geographic Information System (NHGIS) and Co-Principal Investigator for the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) and IPUMS Terra (TerraPop). IPUMS Terra was named one of GIS Geography's top 10 GIS data sources and featured in articles on GIS Geography and GIS Lounge.

Associate Dean Steve Manson, College of Liberal Arts, with the Libraries eLearning Support experts, Shane Nackerud and Kristi Jensen.Working with his graduate students and U of M Libraries' Shane Nackerud and Kristi Jensen, Dr. Manson developed an open mapping textbook used by learners around the world. A thousand U of M students per year use the text, saving over $100,000 in traditional textbook costs.

Dr. Manson works on problems such as declining water and air quality, climate change, food shortages, and social and environmental impacts of migration. This profile and story on mapping the future examines how much of his research focuses on land use and the human impact on the environment.

Manson speaking about workDr. Manson discusses his research on cities and environmental issues. In addition to being among the faculty recognized as the CLA Scholars of the College, Manson and colleagues received over $20 million in funding from the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and Department of Justice supporting his wide range of research projects.

Dr. Manson explores alternative approaches to understanding human decision making. He’s developing computational intelligence methods that capture some of the social dynamics and personal biases that influence human behavior instead that are typically ignored by scientists. [PDF]

Dr. Manson’s research is “topical” in more ways than one. Manson trains his eye on the earth’s surface; using a technique called agent-based modeling, he examines the rate at which humans are altering the land surface of planet Earth. Given the alarming pace of change in the earth’s surface, and given the increasingly charged debates about global warming, his work couldn’t be more timely." [PDF]


Mapping, Society, and Technology is a free and open text on reading, using, and creating maps. It also explores how maps reflect the relationship between society and technology. Mapping is an essential form of scientific and artistic inquiry as well as a trillion dollar business. People, companies, and governments use and misuse maps and map technology to tell stories, save lives, rig elections, and spy on you.

Mapping, society, and technology