Honorary doctorate awarded to GIS expert

Honorary doctorate awarded to GIS expert

A LEADING scientist from the discipline of Geographical Information Science (GIS) has been honoured by the University.

Professor dr Henk Scholten received the title of honorary Doctor of Science from the Faculty of Science and Engineering for his extensive contributions to GIS.

In GIS, scientists combine maths and geography with key data to plan, map and model for different environmental conditions and factors.

Prof Scholten, from the Free University of Amsterdam, has worked with the Dutch police and government ministries, the European Union, the World Health Organisation as well as helping relief efforts in Pakistan following devastating floods.

Plan and predict

He regaled the audience with tales of his younger life and as a mathematics and geography student at the Free University Amsterdam.

“My tutors said you will never be a top mathematician or geographer so I should think about combining the two disciplines to bridge the gap that exists,” he said.

“Maths is about trying to model and predict and geography is how to understand the world – that became GIS. We can still use the language of geography and maths can bring us the models that predict what’s going to happen tomorrow.”

Prof Scholten invited students to adopt the ‘three 3Cs’ as they set out on their new paths, ‘cooperation, communication and creativity’, and wished them the best of luck.


He is co-founder and CEO of Geodan, one of the largest European companies specialising in Geospatial Information Technology. 

His connections with Manchester Met began when one of the first online distance learning courses was set up, more than 25 years ago. The University and partner universities formed UNIGIS for long-distance learning in GIS, which Prof Scholten helped develop and is still a president of.

Since 1990, he has been professor in Spatial Informatics at the Faculty of Business and Economics in the Free University Amsterdam.

Prof Scholten has also received a Royal Decoration in the Netherlands for his significant contribution to geo-information, both on a national and international level.