Professor, Department of Geography

Meghan Cope is an urban social geographer who is interested in the ways that social, economic, political, and environmental processes influence cities and communities, as well as the ways that people's everyday lives create meaningful spaces and places within, or even against, the larger-scale processes operating on them. Her focus has always been on social/spatial processes of marginalization and disempowerment through gender, race/ethnicity, class, and youth. Dr. Cope is currently working on a new project called Mapping American Childhoods, focused on the 20th and 21st Centuries, which takes a look at themes of mobility and migration, health and mortality, the cultural production of ‘childhood in place’, and young people’s experiences of racial segregation and suburbanization from a ‘critical youth geographies’ perspective. She recently won the Frank Bryan Summer Research Award from the Center for Research on Vermont to fund part of this work based on historical records of indigent children in Burlington at the turn of the 20th C.

Dr. Cope is a qualitative researcher who uses ethnography, participatory mapping, archival research, and other methods to learn about the geographic meanings and processes that matter to socially and economically marginalized groups. Dr. Cope has written extensively on qualitative research in the field of Geography, from basic ‘how-to’ chapters on coding and analyzing qualitative data (in Qualitative Research Methods in Human Geography, 2010) to reflections on broad historical trends in the field (see ‘A History of Qualitative Research in Geography’, in DeLyser, et al. 2010, The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Geography). She is also co-editor of the 3rd Edition of Key Methods in Geography, which will be published in 2016.

Over the past 15 years Dr. Cope has developed an associated interest in critical perspectives on Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and has explored methods of combining qualitative research with GIS through novel analytical approaches such as ‘grounded visualization’ (Knigge & Cope, 2006). With her colleague, Sarah Elwood (University of Washington), Dr. Cope co-edited a book on mixed-methods in Geography, Qualitative GIS: A Mixed-Methods Approach (London: Sage), which was published in 2009. More recently, Dr. Cope has been active on the UVM campus in promoting creative ways to incorporate mapping and data visualization in cross-disciplinary applications. She co-organized a workshop called Mapping Worlds for 15 faculty in the College of Arts & Sciences in 2013, coordinated the UVM Faculty Honors Seminar on ‘Big Data’ in 2014, and is now involved with four colleagues in a project funded by the Humanities Center called Visualizing Ideas in the Digital Humanities.

Areas of Expertise and/or Research

Urban social geography, children's geographies, gender, race/ethnicity, North American cities, social theory, qualitative research, critical GIS


  • PhD, Geography, University of Colorado
  • MA, Geography, University of Colorado
  • BA, Sociology, Vassar College


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