Students in classroom.


Dr. M.S. DeVivo, Social Sciences Department, Grand Rapids Community College, 143 Bostwick NE, Grand Rapids, MI, 49503. E-Mail:
Web site:

Program: The Geography program at Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) seeks to achieve excellence by integrating a rich and challenging curriculum with field studies in the U.S. and abroad, while also making substantive contributions to geographical research. Eight undergraduate courses are listed in the curriculum, and six of them are currently offered online as writing intensive courses to students across the globe: World Regional Geography, Cultural Geography, Geography of Michigan, Immigration and Ethnicity in America, Introduction to Globalization and Inequality, and the Regional Geography of the U.S. and Canada. Additionally, the Physical Geography course is designated as a lab science, and it is offered in both hybrid and online formats.  Moreover, short courses devoted to Utilities GIS are offered to students enrolled in GRCC’s Public Works Academy.

GRCC Geography majors are expected to make presentations at academic conferences, and several have received scholarships and awards for field studies, as well as completion of the baccalaureate and conference participation. In recent years, students have conducted fieldwork throughout the U.S., 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 M.A. and Ph.D. 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.

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 education of girls in Sub-Saharan Africa, while also advancing social justice in the local community and contributing to geographical scholarship; local efforts are for the most part dedicated to ameliorating food insecurity for school children and community college students.

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 (

Among the scholarships and awards presented by the Geography program is the GRCC Geography Field Cap, which is awarded 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, Social Sciences — leadership, history of geography, historical geography, geopolitics, African wildlife conservation and community development

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