E-MAIL: guochen(at)msu.edu

Pronouns: she/her/hers

2022–2023: Lilly Fellowship

Fall 2018: Sabbatical Leave

Fall 2018: Short-Term Visiting Scholar, University of Melbourne

2017–2018: Wilson Center Fellowship Leave



Core Faculty, Asian Pacific American (APA) Studies Program

Affiliated Faculty, Asian Studies Center, International Studies & Programs

Affiliated Faculty, Environmental Science and Policy Program (ESPP)

Associated Faculty, Gender, Justice and Environmental Change (GJEC)

Consulting Faculty, Center for Gender in Global Context (GenCen)



-Guo named inaugural Editor in Human Geography/Nature and Society of The Professional Geographer 2023 (Read AAG news)

-Dr. Guo Chen receives GenCen Inspiration Award-Professional Achievement Award 2023/4 (Read Department news / GenCen news

-New Focus (Special Issue) on Hidden Geographies published in The Professional Geographer 2023! Check out the Introduction Essay and all six articles in the issue

-Call for papers to Special Issue on Global Social Environmental Justice (link and flyer) 2023

-Enacting Inclusive Futures: APA Studies Symposium 2022/3/18

-Guo Featured in AAG Women in Geography Webinar: Thriving and Advancing in a Male Dominated Field 2022/3/15

-SWIG Event: Neurodiversity and Space (with resources) 2022/3/4

-SWIG Roundtable & Talk: Afghanistan: Security, Gender, and Development 2021/10/28-29

-Honors Research Seminar on Global Slums;  UURAF award-winning undergrad research Fall 2021–Spring 2022

-AAG virtual panel on anti-racist praxis in Geography and AAG virtual panel on migration, race, ethnicity, & justice, both organized by Guo; Guo penned inaugural AAG-Perspectives article 2021/4/29

-Guo received the CGSG Outstanding Service Award in 2020; AAG newsletter 2020

-Guo as faculty organizer of Anti-Asian Racism & Covid-19 webinar 2020



Urban & Economic Geography

Poverty, Inequality, & Social Justice

Slums, Housing,  & Migrants

Urban & Regional Policies

Urbanization & Environment

Waste Geographies

Mixed, Quantitative, Qualitative, & Creative Research Methods

China & Globalization

Global South, Asia-Pacific, & Emerging Countries

Justice and DEI in Geography

Asian and Asian American Geographies

Guo Chen, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Geography & Global Urban Studies

Michigan State University

Ph.D., Geography, Pennsylvania State University

M.S. & B.S., Nanjing University

Guo is an Associate Professor of Geography and Global Urban Studies in the College of Social Science at MSU and holds a Ph.D. degree in Geography from Pennsylvania State University, a Master’s degree in Human Geography & Urban and Regional Planning, and a B.S. in Economic Geography & Regional Planning from Nanjing University. Guo is a recipient of a number of prestigious awards in research, teaching, leadership, and service, including a prestigious Wilson Center Fellowship (2017-2018), an AAG specialty group outstanding service award (2020), and several university-wide awards and distinctions. She is a recipient of the College of Social Science–Integrative Studies in Social Science Teaching Excellence Award (2010) and a university Lilly Fellow for faculty leadership and teaching excellence/innovation (2022–2023). Her recent awards include an MSU GenCen Inspiration Award-Professional Achievement Award in 2023 and an MSU Outstanding Women of Color Award–Trailblazer Award in 2024. A human geographer with broad interests in urban, economic, critical, and environmental areas, she is also a teacher scholar and public intellectual who has authored and co-authored over fifty publications with a focus on inequality, urban poverty, housing rights for the poor, slums, migrants, urbanization and land use, urban governance, and social and environmental justice, including articles in  PLoS ONE, Scientific Reports, The Professional Geographer, Environment and Planning A, Urban Geography, Urban Studies, Cities, Area, Habitat International, Acta Geographica Sinica, and close to fifteen other journals.  She also writes about DEI and justice in Geography and Asian & Asian American Geographies. She is co-editor of Locating Right to the City in the Global South (Routledge 2013) and Interrogating unequal rights to the Chinese city (Environment and Planning A Special Issue 2012 based on her initiated sessions at the AAG meeting), as well as initiator and editor of a Focus Section for The Professional Geographer titled “Hidden Geographies” (issue 1 of 2023) featuring research articles on race, gender, ethnicity, class, nationality, citizenship, and social justice, by ten diverse scholars around the world. She is the inaugural Editor in Human Geography/Nature and Society as co-Editor-In-Chief for The Professional Geographer. 

Her research has been funded by the National Geographic Society, the National Science Foundation, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Mellon Foundation-funded Urban China Research Network, and MSU (IRGP–New Faculty Grant, CASID, HARP, DFI, Honors College, and Asian Studies–Dr. Delia Koo Awards). She is currently working on book and documentary projects on hidden slums, two edited issues on “Global social and environmental justice” and “Hidden geographies in the city,” and an edited book on DEI in Geography. Guo writes in both English and Chinese languages and authored likely the first geography graduate thesis documenting urban poverty in post-reform China (when she was a master’s student).

Dr. Chen served as secretary, vice-chair, and chair of the China Geography Specialty Group (CGSG) of the American Association of Geographers (AAG), 2012-2015, and received an AAG-CGSG Outstanding Service Award in 2020. She also received the distinction to be nominated and selected as a candidate for election for National Councilor of the AAG in 2023. She served as an Elected Faculty Representative on the MSU Asian Studies Advisory Council, 2019–2021. She has served on the editorial boards of The Professional Geographer and Journal of Urban Affairs and has served as an ad hoc reviewer for close to 50 academic journals. Her academic leadership also includes over a hundred organized sessions, invited talks, and conference presentations.  Her public scholarship includes interviews, op-eds, and webinars. She penned the inaugural piece for the new Perspectives section of the AAG News in 2021. 

Guo has promoted a creative pedagogy with a critical engagement of visuals, documentaries, and simulations in nearly all of her over ten different undergraduate and graduate courses taught/designed in more than a decade on a wide range of topics (economic geography, urban geography, global economy, poverty and inequality, global slums and migration, global diversity and interdependence, people and environment, theories and methods in geography, the geography of Asia-Pacific, and China and globalization), including a popular exit/capstone course for MSU Asian Studies Minor students and a recent Honors Research Seminar on global slums. She has mentored many graduate and undergraduate students, numerous visiting scholars, and interns.

Guo is actively involved in leadership roles, including those related to diversity, equity, and inclusion at MSU. She was an Elected Faculty Advisor of the Supporting Women in Geography (SWIG) group at MSU, a network of over 30 women graduate students and alums, during which time she initiated the highly visible SWIG Speaker event, organized webinars, and expanded the diversity of the group in collaboration with graduate student leaders.  She was a founding member of the Diversity Committee (2020–21) and Chair of the first standing DEI committee (2021–22) in Geography at MSU, responsible for drafting and leading in creating the first ever department DEI website, making award nominations, organizing several task forces, and compiling resources shared with community, all voluntary work equivalent to that of a DEI coordinator.  In addition, she has served as a President-appointed faculty member (2021-24) and an Elected Chairperson  (2021–22) of the President’s Advisory Committee on Disability Issues (PACDI) at MSU, while also working on its RVSM, Bylaws, and new website subcommittees. She and the vice-chairperson were acknowledged by the President’s and IDI offices for their leadership, zealous advocacy, significant contributions, and “exceptional efforts to ensure that our campus is accessible and inclusive of individuals with disabilities” in 2022. Guo is an elected Faculty Senator representing the College of Social Science on the Faculty Senate at MSU, 2023–25.

Creative Products: Slums research/student projects site coming out soon!

Selected Publications


2023. Shining a Light on China’s Hidden Waste Workers (with visuals), China Environment Forum, Wilson Center

2023. Post-trauma, we need empathy, understanding about the most vulnerable community members, The State News 

2021. Working Together for Racial and Social Justice: From Anti-Asian Racism and Violence to Anti-Racist Praxis in Geography, inaugural article for AAG News-Perspectives

2018. China’s Waste Import Ban: A Wake-up Call, But for Who? China US Focus

2018. China’s Waste Import Ban: Dumpster Fire or Opportunity for Change? Wilson Center

2018. The Increasing Visibility of Inequality in Urban China, China US Focus

Selected Research Publications (not including book/articles in progress)

Hidden Geographies: Migration, Intersectionality, and Social Justice in a Global Contemporaneous Space, The Professional Geographer 75 (1), 131–137, 2023

Dharavi in Beijing ? A Hidden Geography of Waste and Migrant Exclusion, The Professional Geographer 75 (1), 187–205, 2023

Henancun in Beijing: A Parallel Society in the Making,  In Displacement, Belonging, and Migrant Agency in the Face of Power, edited by Mayer and Tran, Routledge, 2022 (with Feng, J.)

Low-income Population in Urban China: A Case Study in Kunming, Yunnan, Area, 2021 (with Hou, X.)

How the built environment affects change in older people's physical activity, Social Science & Medicine, 2017  (with Zhou, P. and Grady, S.)

The evaluation of land consolidation policy in improving agricultural productivity in China, Scientific Reports, 2017 (with Jin, X. et al.)

Urbanization and Income Inequality in Post-Reform China: A Causal Analysis Based on Time Series Data, PLoS ONE, 2016

The Heterogeneity of Housing-Tenure Choice in Urban China: A Case Study Based in Guangzhou, Urban Studies, 2016

Municipal solid waste and environmental equity in China, In Confronting the Challenges of Urbanization in China, 2016 (with Wei, Y.)

The Landscape of Gentrification: Exploring the Diversity of “Upgrading” Processes in Hong Kong, 1986–2006, Urban Geography, 2015 (with Ye, M.)

基于广州实证的后改革时代中国城市住房权问题 (Housing rights in post-reform urban China: A case study of housing differentiation and justice in Guangzhou, China), 地理学报 (Acta Geographica Sinica), 2015

Socio-Spatial Differentiation and Residential Segregation in the Chinese City Based on the 2000 Community-Level Census Data, Cities, 2014 (with Wu, Q. et al.)

Locating Right to the City in the Global South. Routledge, 2013

Structural Evaluation of Institutional Bias in China’s Urban Housing: The Case of Guangzhou, Environment and Planning A, 2012

Housing the Poor in Urban China: Some Empirical Evidence from Nanjing, Cities, 2012

Special Issue: Interrogating Unequal Rights to the Chinese City, Environment and Planning A, 2012

Privatization, Marketization, and Deprivation: Interpreting the Homeownership Paradox in Postreform Urban China, Environment and Planning A, 2011

Urban Poverty in the Transitional Economy, Habitat International, 2006

Other Selected Publications