The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Staff Profile

Dr Wen Lin

Senior Lecturer in Human Geography



1998-2002: B.S., Natural Resources and Environmental Ecology, Department of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University (minor in Economics (BA), China Center for Economic Research)

2002-2009: Ph.D., Geography, Department of Geography, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
2015: Fellow of The Higher Education Academy

Previous Positions

2012-2020: Lecturer in Human Geography, School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, Newcastle University 
2009-2012: Assistant Professor (tenure-track), Geography and Earth Science Department, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse 

Roles and Responsibilities

2020-         Geography liaison for Combined Honours (Y001)
2015-         Editorial Board Member for Urban Planning
2016-19     Geography Exams Officer (L701, F800, FH82)
2018-19     Member of GISRUK 2019 conference committee
2018-19     Board member of AAG Digital Geographies Specialty Group
2016          ESRC DTC AQM Assessor Panel Member
2012-16     Library liaison for Geography in GPS
2014-15     Geography liaison for Geography and Planning degree programme (LK74)
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
2011-13     Board member of AAG Urban Geography Specialty Group
2011-12     Member of Program Committee for AutoCarto 2012
2010-11     Library liaison, Geography and Earth Science Department, UW-La Crosse
2010          Member of search and screen committee for a faculty position in cartography, Geography and Earth Science Department, UW-La Crosse
2010          Departmental faculty meeting secretary, Geography and Earth Science Department, UW-La Crosse
2009          Member of search and screen committee for a faculty position in human geography, Geography and Earth Science Department, UW-La Crosse
2008-         Reviewer for ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies, Annals of the Association of American Geographers (2), Antipode, Applied Geography (2), Big Data & Society, Built Environment, Cartographic Perspectives, Cartography and Geographic Information Science (2), CRC Press, Cultural Geographies, Economic Geography, Environment and Behavior, Environment and Planning A,
Environment and Planning B, Environment and Planning D, Eurasian Geography and Economics, GeoJournal (4), International Journal of Applied Geospatial Research, Journal of Maps, Journal of Transport & Health, Landscape and Urban Planning (3), Oxford Bibliographies, Progress in Human Geography, Rowman & Littlefield, Sage Publications (2), Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, South African Geographical Journal, Springer, The Canadian Geographer (4), Transactions in GIS (4), Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, UK Research and Innovation, Urban Affairs Review  

Invited Presentations

Digital mapping in a location-aware society. Newcastle University Humanities Research Institute. 11 June 2018 
Investigating social constructions of geospatial technologies: The case of volunteered geographic information. Durham University. 4 December 2015 
Making sense of citizen mapping: Opportunities and challenges. University of Dundee. 5 March 2014
Politics of everyday mapping and spatial narratives in China. Portland State University. 4 April 2013
Introduction to Volunteered Geographic Information. Chinese Academy of Surveying and Mapping. 8 August 2012
'Straddling the fence': Exploring urban GIS constructions and exploratory spatial data analysis of urban environments. U.S. Geological Survey: Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center, 6 April 2010


American Association of Geographers
Fellow of Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers

Google scholar: Click here.
SCOPUS: Click here.


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 and mobile devices; 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 recent 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 investigated 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 ( I have edited another special issue entitled "Digital Geographies and the City" for the Urban Planning journal, which was published in December 2020 (

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.

Funding and Awards

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 ), £39,999, "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"
2012: Small Bids Fund, School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, Newcastle University, £1,000 (declined to accept Faculty Research Fund)
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"
2008: Association of American Geographers Urban Geography Specialty Group Travel Award, $100
2007-08: Graduate School Dissertation Fellowship, UW-Milwaukee, stipend of $14,000 and tuition
2006: Dissertation Grant, Association of American Geographers, $400
2005-06: Graduate School Fellowship, UW-Milwaukee, stipend of $9,000 and tuition
2005: Graduate School Travel Award, UW-Milwaukee, $150
2005: Third Place, Student GIS Project Competition, UW-Milwaukee
2002-08: Mary Jo Read Scholarship, UW-Milwaukee, total combined: $19,950 

Postgraduate Supervision

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


Undergraduate Teaching (2020-21)

GEO1010 Interconnected World (contributor)
GEO1018 Geographical Analysis (contributor)
GEO2043 Key Methods for Human Geographers (contributor)
GEO2110 Social Geographies (contributor)
GEO2111 Doing Human Geography Research (contributor)
GEO3099 Dissertation (contributor)

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 (2020-21)

GEO8017 Human Geography: Concepts in Action (contributor)