Dr. Cope is an urban social/cultural geographer who is interested in the ways that cities are both produced by and the site of people’s everyday lives. Her focus is on social/spatial processes of injustice (and resistance) through constructions of gender, race/ethnicity, class, and youth. She is interested in critical theory, qualitative research, and sustainable liberation.

Dr. Cope teaches Society, Place, and Power (SU-GEOG70); Urban Geography (GEOG175); Qualitative Research Methods in Geography (GEOG186); Historical Geography (GEOG/HST170); and Advanced Urban Social Geography: Social Justice and The City (GEOG274). She regularly supervises undergraduate internships, independent studies, and honors theses in topics in urban, social, and cultural geography and welcomes inquiries from new or prospective students. Dr. Cope also informally advises students interested in going into Urban and Regional Planning.


Spring 2023:

  • SU-GEOG 070: Society, Place, and Power
  • GEOG274: Advanced Topics in Urban Social Geography: Social Justice and the City

Fall 2023 (tentative):

  • GEOG 175: Urban Geography
  • GEOG186: Qualitative Research Methods

Spring 2020 Syllabi:

Research and/or Creative Works

Dr. Cope is currently working on a historical geography project called Mapping American Childhoods, focused on the early 20th century. In addition to scholarly publications, this project involves constructing a ‘digital atlas’ using archival sources and geovisualization to look at themes of children’s mobility and migration, health and mortality, the cultural production of ‘childhood in place’, and young people’s experiences of racism from a ‘critical youth geographies’ perspective. She has received funding from UVM’s Geography Department, UVM College of Arts & Sciences, and the Center for Research on Vermont to fund this work. Sample projects include analysis of historical records of ‘destitute’ children in Burlington at the turn of the 20th century (held at Silver Special Collections, UVM), and a geographical analysis of early 20th C. child labor and compulsory schooling laws in the US.


In addition to writing critical historical geographies of childhood, Dr. Cope is an expert on qualitative research in Geography; she has co-edited three books on the topic (Qualitative GIS, (2009); Key Methods in Geography, (2016 and 4th edition forthcoming in 2023) and Qualitative Research Methods in Human Geography – 5th edition (2021)), as well as many related articles and book chapters. She pioneered a spatially-informed mixed methods analytical approach with her graduate student, LaDona Knigge (Knigge & Cope, 2006), called ‘grounded visualization’, which has been taken up widely in Geography and across multiple disciplines. Dr. Cope’s interest in emerging geo-visualization techniques and cultural geographies is reflected in her chapter, “Qualitative Methods and GeoHumanities”, in Digital Geographies (2018).

Meghan smiling, outdoors on a sunny day with green trees and grass in the background

Areas of Expertise and/or Research

Urban social/cultural geography, focusing on critical historical geographies of childhood. Using and writing about qualitative research, ethnography, participatory mapping, archival research, and other methods to learn about the geographic meanings and processes that matter to socially and economically marginalized groups.


  • Ph.D., Geography, University of Colorado-Boulder
  • MA Geography, University of Colorado-Boulder
  • AB Sociology, Vassar College


  • 802-656-8844
Office Location:

Old Mill Rm 211

Courses Taught

GEOG 070 – SU: Space, Place and Society

Everything happens somewhere… but why there? And how do combinations of events and processes come together to create unique places? How do the actions and decisions of human societies construct meaningful social spaces? And, how can we use a geographic approach to understand human society better? Recognizing and analyzing the ways that human societies create places and in turn live in and through those places is one of the core tasks of this course. Along this path we will identify the main tools geographers use to understand the relations between space, place, and society, with a particular focus on the tension between globalization, sustainability, social justice, and cultural identities in places around the globe. We will pay particular attention to spatial patterns and discovering the processes that generate them. Geographic concepts we’ll explore include diffusion, mobility and migration, scale, construction of place, and the powerful intersections of economic, political, and social processes with natural environments.

GEOG 170 – Historical Geography

The intersection of Geography and History is explored here through a critical examination of American childhoods of the late 19th and 20th centuries. We use diverse readings and resources to uncover the conditions of childhood, including everything from child labor to conditions of housing, from childhood diseases to immigrant experiences, and from schooling to the material culture of books, toys, and games. We ask questions such as: How is ‘childhood’ constructed socially and culturally over time and through different places? How are diverse experiences of ‘childhood’ related to broader social, economic, and political contexts? We will take five key dimensions of social life as central to understanding past childhoods, and in turn, this allows us to build a better understanding of American culture, places, and histories. These five key dimensions are: Mobility and Migration; Social Inequalities (Race, Class, Gender, etc.)

GEOG 186 – SL:Qualitative Research in Geog

This is an introductory, hands-on course for social science/humanities students of all disciplines. It is particularly helpful as preparation for internships, thesis work, and advanced methods courses. The class is designated as 'service-learning' so that we can work with a community partner - feel free to email me at for more info on that. How do geographers and other social scientists make sense of the social world? How do people construct meaningful places, experience social/spatial differences, resist oppression, or simply make everyday life tolerable? What is in the ‘toolbox’ of qualitative research on social and spatial issues? This course takes several approaches to answering these questions.