Geography

Students in classroom.

Contact Us

Ms. Stacey Herrick, Department Support Professional: sherrick@grcc.edu

Dr. M.S. DeVivo, Professor of Geography: mdevivo@grcc.edu.

Program

As the recipient of the 2020 AAG Award for Associates Program Excellence Honorable Mention, the Geography program at Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) was recognized as one of the top community college geography programs in the US. The program has sought to achieve excellence by integrating a rich and challenging curriculum with field studies in the US and abroad, while also making substantive contributions to geographical scholarship and working to alleviate the impact of poverty and discrimination. As oppression and inequality are evident in society and the environment, a commitment is made in all courses to influence constructive changes toward advancing justice and equality for people of color. The department offers eleven undergraduate geography courses, several of which are listed in the schedule of classes each semester: 

  • Physical Geography
  • World Regional Geography
  • Cultural Geography
  • Global Environmental Issues
  • Introduction to Globalization and Inequality
  • Geography of Michigan
  • Geography of the US and Canada
  • Immigration and Ethnicity in America
  • Africa: A Geographical Exploration
  • Introduction to Geospatial Technologies and GIS
  • GIS Applications in Community Geography and Urban Planning

Geography courses also make up a significant part of the new GRCC Environmental and Sustainability Studies interdisciplinary program, and an additional course in geopolitics, Great Decisions, is offered online each winter term; although taught by geography faculty, it is listed as a political science course. Regardless, as GRCC geography courses are known for their rigor, they are transferable to numerous American colleges and universities; all are designed for online delivery to students across the globe. Currently, per-contact hour tuition is $117 for residents inside the district, $247 for Michigan residents outside the district, and $371 for out-of-state and international students.

Geography majors

GRCC Geography majors are expected to make presentations at academic conferences, and several students and alumni have received awards for undergraduate and graduate papers presented at AAG regional meetings. Additionally, a number have received scholarships and awards for field studies, as well as completion of the baccalaureate. In recent years, students have conducted fieldwork throughout the US, Latin America, and Sub-Saharan Africa. Most of the program’s graduates transfer to Aquinas College or Grand Valley State University to complete their undergraduate studies, and a majority of alumni have been successful in gaining funding to pursue MA and PhD degrees in geography and urban affairs at a number of graduate programs including: Syracuse University, the University of Missouri, the University of Texas, the University of Maryland, Ohio University, Kent State University, Rutgers University, Cleveland State University, and Western Michigan University.

Lambda Upsilon chapter of Gamma Theta Upsilon

As GRCC is an institutional member of the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan, which is devoted to educating leaders in higher education and international business on matters pertaining to global affairs, the geography program plays a critical role. GRCC is also home to the Lambda Upsilon chapter of Gamma Theta Upsilon, which was distinguished with the award of Honors in 2013 and 2016. This GRCC chapter of the International Geographical Honor Society remains devoted to raising funds for the Campaign for Female Education (in Africa), while also advancing social justice in the local community and conducting geographical research; local efforts are for the most part dedicated to ameliorating food insecurity for school children and community college students.

Visiting Geographical Scientist Program (VGSP)

Honorary GTU membership was awarded by Lambda Upsilon to New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof in 2011. Annually, a geographer of distinction is invited to deliver a lecture, which is sponsored by the Visiting Geographical Scientist Program (VGSP). VGSP distinguished speakers are among those interviewed for the Conversation with a Geographer oral history series, which is broadcast on GRCC TV and available for viewing on YouTube (https://www.grcc.edu/socialsciences/geography/conversationwithageographer). Incidentally, due to travel restrictions in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2020 VGSP lecture has been postponed.

GRCC Geography Field Cap

Among the awards presented by the Geography program is the GRCC Geography Field Cap, which is presented to stellar graduates of the program, as well as those that have contributed to the advancement of Geography through fieldwork, exploration, research, teaching, publication, or exemplary service. In addition to selected alumni, all VGSP distinguished speakers are presented with this award; other recipients include: Nicholas Kristof, Niem Huynh, Alicia Decker, Richard Leakey, Anne Bonds, Courtney Gallaher, Jessie Clark, Jerome Dobson, and Lee Schwartz.

VGSP Distinguished Speakers:

  • 2009 Leon Yacher
  • 2010 Marie Price
  • 2011 Leon Yacher
  • 2012 Kate Swanson
  • 2013 Rebecca Sheehan
  • 2014 Caroline Faria
  • 2015 Marie Price
  • 2016 Maria Fadiman
  • 2017 Karen Culcasi
  • 2018 Jonnell Robinson
  • 2019 Lindsay Naylor

Geography Faculty:

Mike DeVivo, Professor— leadership, history of geography, historical geography, geopolitics, African wildlife conservation and community development

Alyson Mabie, Adjunct Instructor — GIS education, urban geography and sustainable planning, environmental justice, craft beer industry, graffiti and street art