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)



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

-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

Research interests and activities

My prior research has focused on the dynamics, spatial manifestations and spatiality, and the social and environmental complexities of rapid urban transformations and their impacts and implications for disadvantaged groups in China, Global South, and emerging countries through an integrative and critical lens.  In particular, my work has explored four broad themes: 1) theorizing the nexus of urbanization, poverty, inequality, and social justice in emerging urban contexts from an historical and geographical perspective; 2) understanding inequality and inequities on multiple scales such as within and across cities as well as between social groups and identifying the structural/institutional bias and structures shaping inequalities and social injustice, i.e., through studies on housing differentiation and rights and housing for the poor; 3) visualizing the hidden/changing landscape of urban poverty, deprivation, and exclusion of migrants and other vulnerable groups; and 4) evaluating and critiquing state and community policies that impact the poor and the marginalized.

My recent work has included using qualitative and creative methods to investigate the hidden geographies of intersectional inequity, exclusions, and social justice for rural-urban migrants and other groups based on long-term collaborative research on informal recycling, migrants, and hidden slums in the Global South and the Asia Pacific.

Trained as an urban and economic geographer, planner, and spatial analyst, I have employed a mixed methodology involving social theories and integrated quantitative and qualitative approaches that include intensive field work, surveys and interviews, archival research, and spatial and statistical analyses of a combination of census, socioeconomic statistics, survey data, remote sensing and land-use data.  I have a long-term interest in critically engaging with visual materials to gain insights into the socio-spatial, economic, and environmental dimensions of rapid urban changes. I was one of the first geographers to study and document urban poverty in a post-reform Chinese city based on extensive fieldwork (and authored likely the first geography thesis in Chinese language on that topic, which became the reason for a Ph.D. dissertation).

Current and previous projects:

Hidden Geographies

Migrants, informal recycling, and waste geographies

Slum geographies in mainland China, Hong Kong, and the Global South

Urbanization, inequality, and social and environmental justice in China and in a transnational or global context

The changing landscape of urban poverty in China before and since reform

Other projects on topics ranging from globalization, city and neighborhood governance, to migrants and migration, housing rights, differentiation, for the poor, and right to the city in China and the Global South

Asian and Asian American Geographies