The two European Science Foundation/National Science Foundation Summer Institutes present a unique opportunity to reflect on the state of past, present and future geographic information research. This is because the Summer Institutes themselves are unique in several important ways. Firstly, the event itself is unique as a showcase for the findings of the work carried out in the two main geographic information research programmes on both sides of the Atlantic: the NCGIA programme funded by the National Science Foundation; and the GISDATA programme funded by the European Science Foundation. The main thrust of both these programmes is clearly evident in the structure of these Institutes, each of which covers six of the main research priority areas defined in both programmes. In this way the Institutes provide opportunities to reflect on the issues raised at the specialist meetings organised by these programmes to review the state of the art on these topics.