What is geodesign?

Dr. Laura C. Loyola, assistant professor (teaching) of spatial sciences, describes how we use geodesign principles in our teaching and research.

Learning beyond the classroom

Each summer since 2014, Spatial Sciences Institute faculty have been leading students through an immersion in the essentials of geodesign, fostering critical and spatial thinking abilities while they tackle real-world design and planning issues in an international setting.

As part of their SSCI 350: International Geodesign (Maymester) experiences, students travel to a destination selected to challenge their familiarity with design and planning systems and protocols.

In the 2023 summer course, Dr. Guoping Huang led students to Amsterdam, Netherlands, a renowned hub celebrated for its historical prowess in harmonizing human habitation with nature and its contemporary innovative use of geospatial technology for sustainable development. The class envisioned how Amsterdam could enhance equity and sustainability while accommodating a growing population by 2050, by reacting to existing issues and by proactively proposing innovative solutions.

Planning is underway for future SSCI 350 locations in Asia, Africa and South America.


My time in Amsterdam surpassed my expectations, leaving me with a sense of fulfillment, a wealth of new friendships, and a deeper appreciation for the intersections of design and innovation. It was truly a transformative experience that will continue to shape my career and personal growth. SSCI 350 was one of my favorite classes I’ve taken at USC and one of my most memorable experiences.

Qian Long, Bachelor of Architecture ’25

Qian Long’s Amsterdam experience