Guo Chen


Dr. Guo Chen is Associate Professor of Geography and Global Urban Studies at Michigan State University, and holds degrees in Geography (Ph.D., Penn State Univ.; M.S., Nanjing University) and Planning (B.S., Nanjing Univ.). Her research focuses on inequality, urban poverty, housing, urbanization and land use, urban governance and social and environmental justice, with a regional focus on China and other emerging countries. She has published close to thirty articles, book chapters, and edited book. Her recent publications appear in journals such as Environment and Planning A, Urban Geography, Urban Studies, Cities, Habitat International, and Acta Geographica Sinica. She is a guest co-editor of a special issue on “Rights to the Chinese City” for Environment and Planning A (Dec. 2012) and co-editor of Locating Right to the City in the Global South (Routledge, 2012). Her projects have been funded by the National Geographic Society, National Natural Science Foundation of China, Urban China Research Network, and MSU (IRGP-New Faculty Grant, CASID and DFI). Guo served as secretary, vice-chair, and chair of the China Specialty Group of the AAG from 2012-2015. She has served as reviewer for over 30 academic journals and is an editorial board member of Journal of Urban Affairs. She recently received MSU DFI to begin pilot work on socio-environmental justice in China. She has taught a wide range of undergraduate and graduate level courses on economic geography, globalization, inequality and justice, people and environment, theories in geography, Asia-Pacific and urban China, and is a recipient of the ISS teaching excellence award at MSU.

Research Interests:

Dr. Guo Chen’s research is on the dynamics, spatial manifestations, and social and environmental consequences of the urban transformations in China and other emerging countries. In particular, her work explores four broad themes: 1) measuring, mapping, and representing the changing landscape of urban poverty and deprivation; 2) identifying the drivers of changing inequalities within and across cities as well as between social groups; 3) evaluating policy responses in housing for the poor and welfare; and 4) theorizing the nexus of urbanization, inequality, and justice in emerging urban contexts.

Trained as an economic geographer, urban planner and spatial analyst, she employs a mixed methodology involving quantitative and qualitative approaches that include intensive field work, household surveys and interviews, and spatial and statistical analyses of a combination of census, socioeconomic statistics, survey data, remote sensing and land-use data, and visual materials to gain integrated insights into the socio-spatial, economic, and environmental dimensions of rapid urban changes.

Her dissertation was on the changing landscape of urban poverty in post-reform China. Her prior and current projects include completed projects on urban expansion and inequality in coastal China, a book project on urban poverty in China, a research project on urbanization, inequality, and socio-environmental justice in coastal and western China, and a visual project on the slum geography in Mainland China and Hong Kong. She also has worked / collaborated on a number of other projects on topics ranging from global financial industry, city and neighborhood governance, and urban environmental issues, to rural-urban migrants and housing issues (stratification, inequality, for the poor, etc.) in China. Her work has continued to focus on poverty, inequality and injustice for the past over ten years.