Beginning next quarter, UCSB will introduce a new academic minor in spatial studies — the assessment of people or things using their geographical location in order to identify patterns and trends.

The minor combines a range of academics including art, humanities, science and engineering to contextualize spatial thinking and reasoning. Its introduction was announced last Tuesday during a ThinkSpatial forum led by geography professor Mike Goodchild and spatial studies Director Don Janelle.

Goodchild said he’s eager to see how students respond to the minor, which has been in the works since 2008.

“I think it will provide a great opportunity…to benefit from one of the major strengths of the campus,” Goodchild said in an e-mail.

Instead of declaring a spatial studies minor prior to taking the required courses, students can petition for certification in the minor in one of three focus areas: spatial thinking, space and place or spatial science.

“It’s a remarkable collaboration…[and] truly represents a cross-cutting theme that can help break down some of the barriers between departments and colleges,” Goodchild said.

Third-year linguistics major Erin Strand said the minor allows students to expand academic pursuits without switching majors.

“I’m pleased that they are offering something new to students, especially since this minor is not a traditional subject,” Strand said. “The minor is so interdisciplinary that it would help any major in taking classes to broaden interests and an unexpected opportunity to take both an art class and an engineering class at the same time that counts toward the minor.”

Janelle said the minor offers a unique opportunity.

“Each student can choose their own program path,” Janelle said. “Any major can benefit from this minor since it is so interdisciplinary.”

Students interested in the spatial studies minor are encouraged to visit the Center for Spatial Studies in Phelps Hall 3512 or attend ThinkSpatial forums — informal lectures about spatial thinking held in Ellison Hall 5824 from noon to 1 p.m.

The next ThinkSpatial forum will feature a lecture by Davidson Library’s Map and Imagery Laboratory librarian Jon Jablonski on Feb. 1.