Jennifer Mapes

Jennifer Mapes

Department of Geography
Associate Professor
Contact Information


Dr. Jennifer Mapes teaches Human Geography, Qualitative Methods, Seminar in Geography, Cartographic Design, Nature & Society and Urban Sustainability.

Her primary research and teaching interest is connecting global and national change to local outcomes, with a focus on urban sustainability in small cities. Living in downtown Kent, Jen continues her work on small towns by studying the recent downtown redevelopment. She is writing a book called "The New American Small Town." The book will be based in part on her dissertation, which examined the effects of global contemporary change in small towns, connecting theoretical understandings of place and space to on-the-ground outcomes. As part of her research, she spent nine months in seven towns in the American West, interviewing local residents and key decision-makers to learn how their towns experience and react to socio-economic and environmental change.

Her current research and practice focus on the city of Kent, with a particular interest in its recent downtown redevelopment. In 2017, she was named Volunteer of the Year by Main Street Kent for her work on downtown map kiosks. Jen is currently working with the Map Library to create a community-accessible GIS database of Kent and Northeast Ohio.


State University of New York at Geneseo, B.A. International Relations and Geography, 2000 (summa cum laude), The Pennsylvania State University, M.S. Geography, 2005, University of Southern California, Ph.D. Geography, 2009


Urban Geography, Community Planning, Small Towns in the U.S., Kent, town/gown issues, May 4, sustainable cities


  • Mapes, J., D. Kaplan, K. Turner, C. Willer. Building ‘College Town’: Economic redevelopment and the construction of community. Local Economy. 32(7): 601-616. November 2017
  • Mapes, J. The New Main Street: Planning, politics, & change in downtown Kent, Ohio . In Urban Transformations: Geographies of Renewal and Creative Change. N. Wise and J. Clark, eds. Routledge. June 2017
  • Nicolaides, B. and J. Mapes. Stay-at-Home Moms in Los Angeles County, 1950–2000. California History, 93(3): 2-8. Fall 2016.
  • Kaplan, D. and J. Mapes. "Where are the women? Accounting for Discrepancies in Female Doctorates in U.S. Geography." Professional Geographer. Vol. 68, Iss. 3, 2016..
  • Kaplan, D. and J. Mapes. “Panoptic Geographies: An examination of all U.S. geographic dissertations.” Geographical Review. January 2015.
  • Curtis, J., A. Curtis, J. Mapes, A. Szell, and A. Cinderich. “Using Google Street View for systematic observation of the built environment: analysis of spatio-temporal instability of imagery dates.” International Journal of Health Geographics. 12:53.
  • Mapes, J. “Landscapes of nostalgia: Place marketing and the cultural economy in the American small town.” In Cultural Political Economy of Small Cities, A. Lorentzen and B. van Heur, eds. Routledge (Regions and Cities). August 2011.
  • Mapes, J. and J. Wolch, “‘Living green’: The promise and pitfalls of new sustainable communities,” Journal of Urban Design, 16(1): 105-126. February 2011.
  • Wolch, J., J. Newell, M. Seymour, H. Bradbury, K. Reynolds, J. Mapes. “The forgotten and the future: Reclaiming back alleys for a sustainable city.” Environment and Planning A, 42(12) 2874 – 2896. December 2010.


Research Institutes and Initiatives

Environmental Science and Design Research Initiative