Skip to main content

Strategic Plan for Geography & Sustainable Planning

Context For Planning

The department of Geography and Sustainable Planning is committed to developing regional, national and international visibility, providing excellent education to diverse and growing student audiences, and positioning itself as a regional center of excellence in geospatial technologies, sustainable planning, and environmental geography. Our strategic plan for 2016-2021 is aimed at strengthening our curriculum, faculty and student research and scholarship, and active community engagement in three areas: geospatial technologies, sustainable urban and regional planning, and environment and global development. 

Mission

To provide excellent education in geography, geospatial technologies, urban and regional planning, and environmental and global development; to prepare our students to become global citizens, environmental stewards,  and effective problem solvers and decision makers; and to improve the quality of life in West Michigan and world-wide through an improved understanding of geography and its unique role as a leading discipline in sustainable community development and planning.

Vision

Excellence, leadership, regional, national and international visibility, and a reputation as a regional center of expertise and education in the areas of  geospatial technologies, urban and regional planning, environment, and sustainable human development.

Value Statement

- Global geographic perspective: holistic spatial perspective is essential for understanding the world and problem solving; 
- Teaching excellence powered by innovation, creativity, experiential learning, cutting edge technology, and active scholarship.
- Diversity of people, ideas, beliefs, teaching and learning styles, and scholarly pursuits;
- Sustainability of the environment, culture, and human development and education for sustainable development;
- Collaboration, collegiality, transparency, equality, shared governance and collective decision making.

Strategic Priorities, outcomes, and key objectives

Strategic Priority Area 1: Actively engage learners at all levels.

Outcome A: Grand Valley's learning environment is personal, challenging, and transformational, supporting excellent academic programs and co-curricular opportunities.

Objective 1.A.1

The Geography and Sustainable Planning department will continue developing an excellent undergraduate program of exceptional quality, which will demonstrate a steady growth of curriculum options and areas of specialization in geospatial technologies, sustainable urban and regional planning, environmental geography and global development. The geography major will demonstrate a steady enrollment increase (at least 15% enrollment increase by 2021 compared to the past 5 years' mean enrollment).

Baseline

2010-2015 mean

Progress

2016 Status
Substantial Progress
The recently revised geography major curriculum has been fully approved and offers three new emphasis areas effective Fall 2017. Enrollment on the major has increased by 20% compared to the the past 5 year mean.

2017 Status
Substantial Progress
The department has developed three new areas of emphasis in Geospatial Technology, Urban and Regional Planning, and Environment and Global Development, which became available to students in Fall semester 2017. In addition, minors and certificates in GIS Techniques and Sustainable Urban and Regional Planning have been fully revised. A new certificate in Environmental Remote Sensing has been also approved to start in Fall 2018.

Objective 1.A.2

All geography majors will graduate having had at least one significant high-impact learning experience achieved through the Geography and Sustainable Planning curriculum (such as internship, community-based research, service learning, study abroad, or field research).

Baseline

2010-2015 average

Progress

2016 Status
Substantive Progress
Currently over 50% of geography majors and geographic techniques and sustainable planning minors have a at least one significant learning experience through the GPY curriculum (such as paid and unpaid internships, community-based research, service learning, study abroad, or field research). 100% TT faculty and 40% of adjunct and visiting faculty incorporate to some degree community-based teaching, community-based research, and service learning and civic engagement activities although this number is subject to high fluctuation due to high reliance on adjuncts in some courses. The department received 3 grants supporting and recognizing leadership of our faculty in community-engagement projects and civic engagement learning activities: the Engaged Department mini-grant to support our collaboration with the Seeds of Promise and West Michigan Environmental Council and two Career Center institutional mini-grants to support further development of geography internships. Community engagement and other high impact practices are now a part of geography major curriculum map (in all areas of emphasis), assessment, and is included in learning objectives and outcomes of the majority of geography courses.

2017 Status
Substantial Progress
Over 50% of geography major experience at least one high-impact practice in their major or general education courses. This includes study abroad, internships, community engagement and service learning activities in geography courses, independent studies, semester in Detroit program, and numerous community engagement opportunities coordinated by the department, the Geography Club, and Urban Planning Association. The department faculty received grants from GVSU Career Center (internship development mini-grant) and Faculty Teaching and Learning Center (teaching innovation grant). Starting with Fall 2017 the department is offering GPY101 - Sustainability and Place a 1-credit course exploring local place-based sustainability initiatives. GPY101 hosted a poster session as a part of GVSU Campus Sustainability Week.

Objective 1.A.3

At least 20% of GPY faculty will engage in work with graduate students inside or outside GVSU to develop foundation for the potential future Masters of Geography program at GVSU.

Baseline

Academic year 2015/16

Progress

2016 Status
Minimal Progress
Dr. Wanxiao Sun co-directed master thesis developed in the Annis Water Resources Institute

2017 Status
Minimal Progress
Elena Lioubimtseva was a guest professor at the University of Versailles International Summer School in Sustainable Mobility in July 2017.

Outcome B: Grand Valley is diverse and inclusive.

Objective 1.B.1

To serve broader and diverse student audiences by increasing the availability of Geography and Sustainable Planning courses accessible to non-traditional students (e.g. hybrid and online courses, evening courses, off-campus courses).

Baseline

mean value 2010-2015

Progress

2016 Status
Substantive Progress
The department has increased the number of online and hybrid courses to attract additional student populations. The department is striving to attract diverse student audiences.

2017 Status
Substantial Progress
The department conducted a national search and hired new tenure-track faculty, who will teach courses in urban and regional planning and sustainability planning. This would allow us to further diversify our curriculum and to attract more students from various backgrounds. We brought on campus several speakers and organized open houses to showcase the program to the broader community. We have added in 2017 five more online and hybrid courses to better serve our student audiences.

Outcome D: Grand Valley supports innovative teaching, learning, integrative scholarly and creative activity, and the use of new technologies.

Objective 1.D.1

100% of GPY tenured and tenure-track faculty will demonstrate active scholarly agendas and disseminate their scholarship through annual conference presentations and/or publications.

Baseline

2010-2015

Progress

2016 Status
Substantial Progress
The vast majority of GPY faculty have demonstrated active scholarly agendas and presented their work at conferences and/or published.

2017 Status
Substantive Progress
All geography tenured/TT faculty demonstrated some efforts related to their scholarly agendas. 50% faculty presented their work at the national or regional professional conferences and 40% of the department faculty had at least one scholarly article or chapter published or accepted for publication.

Strategic Priority Area 2: Further develop exceptional personnel.

Outcome A: Grand Valley's learning environment is personal, challenging, and transformational, supporting excellent academic programs and co-curricular opportunities.

Objective 2.A.1

Progress

2016 Status
Substantive Progress
The department has demonstrated substantive progress in this area with all tenure-track faculty maintaining scholarly agenda and working on publications and conference presentations. At least 14 geography majors attended professional conferences in 2016 and at students from 5 geography courses presented at the SSD 2016.

2017 Status
Substantial Progress
All tenure-track/tenured faculty maintained active scholarly agendas and presented and/or published their scholarly work. All geography faculty engaged in mentoring undergraduate student research. Geography and Sustainable Planning courses and independent research projects produced 17 presentations at GVSU Student Scholarship Day and five presentations at national and regional conferences.

Outcome C: Grand Valley has mutually beneficial relationships, partnerships, collaborations, and connections with local, state, national, and world communities.

Objective 2.C.1

At least 50% of GPY faculty will actively cultivate partnerships and collaborative projects with our community partners at the local, regional, national or international level.

Baseline

2010-2015

Progress

2016 Status
Substantial Progress
The department has demonstrated outstanding progress in this area and surpassed the initial goal in terms of he number of GPY faculty involved in collaborative work with community partners. However, to be consistent and sustained beyond the first year of this SP, it is critically important for the department that its foreseeable staffing plans can hold to sustain these important initiatives.

2017 Status
Achieved
The department has developed and deepened collaborative partnerships with several organizations locally and internationally. In 2017 the department conducted a collaborative project with the Seeds of Promise neighborhood organization in southeastern Grand Rapids and GVSU Sustainability Partnership. Over 20 geography students in GPY200, GPY307 and GPY499 and three faculty (Ma, Tansue, Lioubimtseva) were actively involved in the analysis and mapping of using conditions in SE part of Grand Rapids. Jim Penn developed new partnerships in Nicaragua. Jeroen Wagendorp continued working with several Dutch universities and private companies, engaging GPY381 and GPY496 students in interdisciplinary field study in the Netherlands. Gang Xu conducted collaborative research with several private companies in China. Elena Lioubimtseva continue collaborative work with the University of Versailles and taught in Versailles International Summer School on Sustainable Mobility. The department received a grant from GVSU Career center dedicated to development of new partnerships with prospective internship providers in the non-profit non-govermental sector.

Strategic Priority Area 3: Ensure the alignment of institutional structures and functions.

Strategic Priority Area 4: Enhance the institution's image and reputation.

Outcome A: Grand Valley's learning environment is personal, challenging, and transformational, supporting excellent academic programs and co-curricular opportunities.

Objective 4.A.1

At least 10% of geography majors will graduate having had an experience of presenting their research and scholarship at a State-level, Regional or National professional conference.

Baseline

2010-2015

Progress

2016 Status
Substantial Progress
The department has demonstrated very substantial progress and surpassed its annual goal. Over 15% of geography and planning majors participated last year in the national, regional and state-level conferences, such as the national and regional annual meetings of the Association of American Geographers, American Planning Association, Student Michigan Association of Planning, Michigan Academy and national conference of American Public Transportation Association.

2017 Status
Achieved
Every year, we encourage our best students to present their research at the state, regional and national and international professional conferences and engage in networking opportunities with scholars worldwide and nationwide. In 2017, two geography majors presented their research at the Michigan Academy of Science Conference, one geography major presented his work at the regional meeting of the Association American Geographers (AAG) East Lakes division, two geography majors presented their work at the annual national meeting of the AAG and one geography major presented her work at the annual conference of the American Planning Association (APA). Two geography majors participated in Versailles International Summer School in Sustainable Mobility in France.

Outcome C: Grand Valley has mutually beneficial relationships, partnerships, collaborations, and connections with local, state, national, and world communities.

Objective 4.C.1

At least 50% of GPY faculty will engage in the local and regional community-based research and service and provide their expertise and/or assistance through consulting, interviews, grants, service on the boards of local non-profit organizations, etc., to improve the quality of life of West Michigan communities and enhance the reputation of the department as a regional think-tank in the areas of GIS, urban planning, and climate change adaptations and mitigation.

Baseline

2010-2015

Progress

2016 Status
Substantive Progress
The department has been consistently demonstrating a very high level of community engagement and the local, national and international levels. The department faculty provided several interviews to radio and press, including highly selective media sources such as World Politics Review.. 50% of the department faculty actively engaged in the Engaged department initiative grant. Two department faculty (Ma and Transue have secured a community foundation subaward through the department's GIS housing assessment project contracted by the Seeds of Promise (the Seeds of Promise and Cottage Grove areas). Lioubimtseva received an FTLC Teaching Innovation Award used to evaluate and develop climate mitigation, adaptation and resiliency planning curriculum within geography major through assessment of peer programs in France and UK.

2017 Status
Achieved
Over 50% faculty (at least for out of six tenured faculty) actively engaged in the community-based research and service in 2017. Dr. Ma co-authored with an alumni and prepared for publication a manuscript for publication on engaging GIS and computer cartography students in community housing surveys. Dr. Wagendorp was actively involved in the governance and events of MI county GIS departments. He also worked with several community partners in the Netherlands, engaging his study abroad class in community-based field research. Dr. Penn conducted field research working with local communities in Nicaragua and Peru. Dr. Lioubimtseva, in collaboration with Dr. Da Cunha from the University of Versailles developed a database of climate change adaptation plans of small cities in France and in the US (including Michigan case studies) and prepared a manuscript for publication.

Outcome E: Grand Valley strategically allocates its fiscal, human, and other institutional resources.

Objective 4.E.1

Geography and Sustainable Planning department will increase by at least 50% its teaching and research capacity in the areas of geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing and environmental/climate modeling by increasing dedicated GIS lab space, number of full-time faculty using geospatial technologies, and availability and performance of GIS and remote sensing software and hardware.

Baseline

2010-2015

Progress

2016 Status
Substantive Progress
1) The department enrollment has increased by 37% in GIS courses and by 48% in geography the major in 2016 compared to 2015.. 2) The department requested two full-time tenure track positions in 2016, including one replacement of planning position and one new position in GIS. Both requests have been denied. 3)The department requested and was able to fill through a very competitive search one visiting line combining GIS and urban planning areas (Dr. Yanning Wei). 4) The department has increased the number of seats and availability for students of all state-of-the arts GIS and remote sensing software through careful coordination of resources with other departments, CLAS Dean's office, GVSU IT, and GVSU Provost's office.

2017 Status
Substantial Progress
The department has achieved substantial progress in all metrics related to this objective. The use of geospatial technology by GPY faculty for teaching and research is close to 100%. We have increased the number of courses and number of sections of courses actively using geospatial technology and climate/environmental modeling software. The department revised, renamed, and secured administrative approvals for the new content of the GIS minor and GIS certificate - renamed "Geospatial science and technology" starting Fall 2018. The department also developed a new certificate in Environmental Remote Sensing starting in Fall 2017.

Back to list