Main Navigation Menu

M. S. DeVivo, Ph.D.

Professor of Geography
201 A White Hall, 2nd Floor, DeVos Campus

Raised in various parts of Europe and North America, Michael S. DeVivo enlisted in the Marine Corps after attending high school in Connecticut. Following periods of service with the Marines and Navy, he was licensed as a U.S. Merchant Marine Officer and took command of a number of vessels for the mineral and oil industry. He subsequently engaged in university studies and entered academe. Mike hosts the Conversation with a Geographer oral history series, often exploring the role of various leaders and leadership behaviors with those interviewed. In recent years, he has given a number of talks on leadership, as well as the history of geography and geopolitics, in Africa, Asia, and the United States. He is the author of Leadership in American Academic Geography: The Twentieth Century, which is published by Rowman & Littlefield’s Lexington Books, and he is listed by the International Geographical Honor Society and Association of American Geographers as a Visiting Geographical Scientist (


2015      “Practicing Responsible Leadership in Southern Africa,” Joint Meeting of the Southwest Division of the Association of American Geographers and the Applied Geography Conference, San Antonio, TX, 4-7 November.

2015       “Idi, Yasser, and Bibi: Leaders and Leadership Behaviors in the Making of a Dangerous World,” Michigan Political Science Association Annual Meeting, Grand Rapids, MI, 29-30 October.

2015     “Advancing Gender Equity in an Online Geography Course: A Strategy for Teacher Education,” Distance Education and Teachers’ Training in Africa Conference: The Future We Want--Teacher development for the transformation of education in diverse African contexts, Reduit, Mauritius, 21-24 July.

2015     “Scholars and Scalawags: A Soap Opera Saga of Geography’s Past,” California Geographical Society Annual Meeting, Arcata, CA, 1-3 May. 

2015     “On Leadership and Geography,” Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL, 21-25 April. 

2015     “The Value of History, the Craft of Leadership, and the Practice of Geography,” Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI, 1 April.

2015     Leadership in American Academic Geography: The Twentieth Century. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books: An Imprint of Rowman & Littlefield (225 pp.). 

2014     Reflection. In AAG Resources for SAGEs by Niem Tu Huynh in Thriving as a Stand-Alone Geographer, ed. A. Rees, p. 114. Washington, DC, Association of American Geographers. 

2014     Pondering the Past in Kyoto. Past Place 22 (2): 11-12. 

2014     “A Tale of Duplicity and Deception in American Geography,” Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI, 24 October.  

2014     “Leadership in American Academic Geography: A Sample Chapter,” East Lakes and West Lakes Divisions of the Association of American Geographers Regional Meeting, Kalamazoo, MI, 16-18 October.

2014     "Reflections on World Leaders, Human Behaviors, and the Shaping of Geopolitical Landscapes,” Society of South African Geographers Biennial Meeting, East London, South Africa, 24-27 June.

2014     “Conversation with a Maasai,” California Geographical Society Annual Conference, Los Angeles, CA, 2-4 May.

2014     “Addressing a Vital American Interest: Global Climate Change in Sub-Saharan Africa,” World Affairs Council Great Decisions Lecture, Aquinas College, Grand Rapids, MI, 17 February.

2013     “The Tanda Tula Model: A Leadership Strategy for Development in Africa,” Global Action for Africa’s Development International Conference on Good Governance: Conflict Resolution, Decentralisation, and Socio-Economic Development, Pan African Parliament, Midrand, South Africa, 13-15 November. 

2013     “Global Citizenship and Higher Education,” UN 2013-Grand Rapids: A Symposium to Commemorate the Founding of the United Nations, Grand Rapids Community College, Grand Rapids, MI, 21 October.

2013     “Transformational Leadership, Geographic Science, and Paradigm Change in American Geography,” International Geographical Union Regional Conference, Kyoto, Japan, 4-9 August. 

2013     “Simonett and the Santa Barbarians,” California Geographical Society Annual Meeting, San Luis Obispo, CA, 26-28 April. 

2012     Transformational Leadership, Responsible Tourism, and Sustainable Development. Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Responsible Leadership (Stellenbosch, South Africa), 331-353. 

2012     “Online Instruction and Increased Student Success in the Community College Geography Curriculum:  Ruminations on a Contradiction in the National Trend,” California Geographical Society Annual Meeting, Davis, CA, 27-30 April. 

2012     “From the Maghreb to Mpumalanga: GRCC Students Explore Africa,” (with Hillery Haney), GRCC Faculty Learning Day, Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids, MI, 4 January. 

2011     A Tale of Two Departments: Success and Failure in Higher Education Leadership in American Geography at Mid-Century. International Conference on Social Science and Humanity Proceedings (Singapore), VI-243- VI-247. 

2011     “Leon Yacher: Transformational Leader in American Geography,” National Conference on Geographic Education, Portland, OR, 5 August. 

2011     “Putting Learning into Action: Making a Difference for Girls and Women in LDCs on an American College Campus” (with M. Hornyak & A. Kibby), California Geographical Society Annual Meeting, Bishop, CA, 30 April-2 May. 

2010     Assessing Development in the Islamic World: An Alternative Approach. The Arab World Geographer 12 (1-2): 62-72. 

2010     “Integrating Foreign Area Field Studies in the Geography Curriculum: Study Abroad in Africa,” Annual  Meeting of the East Lakes Division of the Association of American Geographers, Grand Rapids, MI, 22-23 October. 

2010     “The Proximity of Peace in the Face of Poverty and Conflict: Assessing Development in LDCs,”  Second Annual Peace Studies Conference, Grand Rapids Community College, Grand Rapids, MI, 29  September. 

2010     “Third World Development: Review, Reflection, Measurement, and Analysis,” Michigan Academy of Science, Arts, and Letters Annual Conference, Grand Rapids, MI, 26 March.