The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Staff Profile

Dr Wen Lin

Lecturer in Human Geography



1998-2002: B.S., Natural Resources and Environmental Ecology, Peking University
2002-2009: Ph.D., Geography, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
2015: Fellow of The Higher Education Academy

Previous Positions

2009-2012: Assistant Professor, Geography and Earth Science Department, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse 

Roles and Responsibilities

2016-          Geography Exams Officer (L701, F800, FH82)
2016           ESRC DTC AQM Assessor Panel Member
2012-16     Library liaison for Geography in GPS
2015-         Editorial Board Member for Urban Planning
2012-15     Member of Program Committee (Research Track) for WikiSym 2013; Member of Program Committee (Wikis and Open Collaboration Research Track) for OpenSym 2014, 2015
2012-17     Reviewer for ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies, Annals of the Association of American Geographers (2), Antipode, Applied Geography, Big Data & Society, Cartographic Perspectives, Cartography and Geographic Information Science (2), Cultural Geographies, Economic Geography, Environment and Planning A, Environment and Planning D, GeoJournal (2), International Journal of Applied Geospatial Research, Landscape and Urban Planning (2), Oxford Bibliographies, Progress in Human Geography, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, The Canadian Geographer, Transactions in GIS, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers
2011-13     Board member of AAG Urban Geography Specialty Group
2011-12     Member of Program Committee for AutoCarto 2012
2011-12     Reviewer for Sage book proposals
2011          Reviewer for Environment and Behavior, GeoJournal, Urban Affairs Review
2010          Reviewer for Applied Geography, GeoJournal, Landscape and Urban Planning
2008          Reviewer for Built Environment, Eurasian Geography and Economics


American Association of Geographers
Cartography and Geographic Information Society
Fellow of Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers


Research Interests

My research and teaching interests include geographic information science (GIS) and urban geography. My research agenda centres on the intersection between the development and usage of geospatial technologies and the social and political conditions in which these practices are situated. I utilize combined frameworks from critical GIS research and urban/political geography to investigate processes of geospatial technology constructions within a variety of urban contexts, and theorize their socio-political implications for citizen participation and urban governance. Meanwhile, I am interested in employing quantitative methods including GIS technologies to examine a wide range of social and environmental issues. I am also committed to facilitating strong relationships among community groups, local government agencies, and universities in my work, to foster community participation and development.

Current Work

My current research activities revolve around three related themes: 1) investigating the social and political implications of recent mapping practices combined with Web 2.0 technologies; 2) examining GIS-related practices in China’s urban planning agencies within the urbanization and globalization contexts; and 3) examining Public Participation GIS (PPGIS) practices in urban governance.

My most current research activities examine the implications of the emergence of volunteered geographic information (VGI) production, referring to the increasing engagement from amateurs in producing spatial knowledge facilitated by Web 2.0 technologies and mobile devices. I have examined how VGI practices in China might open new room for civic engagement. I have also started to investigate VGI practices situated in the UK context. My VGI research builds on my prior work in investigating GIS usage in China’s urban planning agencies and PPGIS in US inner city neighbourhood planning. Working with Andrew Hudson-Smith (University College London), Choon-Piew Pow (National University of Singapore), and Jin-Kyu Jung (University of Washington), we have edited a special issue entitled "Volunteered Geographic Information and the City", published in the Urban Planning journal ( 

Building upon these above activities, I am interested in investigating geospatial technology usage and developments by various actors and social groups situated in various social contexts and working with local community groups through participatory mapping.


2015-2016: Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) and Santander Mobility Award, Newcastle University, £1390, "Participatory mapping for disaster management in the Caribbean" (co-I with Jonathan Pugh (PI))

2013: EPSRC (as part of Sustainable Society Network+), £49,999, "Online Social Networks (OSNs) Based System for Flood Prediction and Management" (co-I with Qiuhua Liang (PI), Philip James (co-I) and Luke Smith (Research Assistant))

2012-2013: Faculty Research Fund, Newcastle University, £3,730, "Investigating Volunteered Geographic Information Production: A Comparative Study of the UK and China"

2010: Faculty/Staff Grant Development and Mentoring Program Fund (with Cynthia Berlin (Co-PI)), University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, $5,000, "Investigating Children’s Trips to School through Participatory Children’s GIS and Web-based Mapping" 

Postgraduate Supervision

Isabel Williams (ESRC NEDTC) (Co-supervised with Prof Rachel Woodward and Prof Alastair Bonnett)
Anthonia Ijeoma Onyeahialam (completed, interim advisor)


Undergraduate Teaching (2016-17)

GEO1096 Geographical Skills (contributor)
GEO2043 Key Methods for Human Geographers (module leader)
GEO2110 Social Geographies (contributor)
GEO2111 Doing Human Geography Research (contributor)
GEO3099 Dissertation (contributor)
GEO3130 Mapping the City (module leader)

Past Courses (taught at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)

GEO/ESC 385: Introduction to GIS
GEO 485/585: Advanced GIS
GEO 309: Urban Geography
GEO 200: Conservation of Global Environments
GEO 125: Introduction to Environmental Geography (online section)
GEO 230: Geography of Asia
GEO 215: Introduction to GIS
GEO 110: The World: Peoples and Regions

Postgraduate Teaching (2016-17)

GEO8017 Human Geography: Concepts in Action (contributor)