Mark D Bjelland

Mark Bjelland


Mark Bjelland received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in civil engineering from the University of Minnesota and University of Washington, respectively. He earned his professional engineering license and worked on transportation systems in Minneapolis–Saint Paul, water management in Washington, environmental cleanups on First Nations reservations on Vancouver Island, and major urban redevelopments in Vancouver, British Columbia. He also earned a Master’s in Christian Studies at Regent College (Vancouver), studying environmental ethics under Dr. Loren Wilkinson and the sociology of religion under Dr. Craig Gay. Intrigued by the geographical questions he encountered as an engineer, he left consulting to earn a Ph.D. in geography from the University of Minnesota. He wrote his dissertation comparing deindustrialization, environmental justice, and brownfields redevelopment in the United States and Canada.


Dr. Bjelland came to Calvin in 2013 after teaching geography and environmental studies at Gustavus Adolphus College for fifteen years. Dr. Bjelland received a Fulbright Foundation German Studies award to study urban planning in post-reunification Germany and was awarded the U.S.-U.K Fulbright Scholar Award to spend a year at Cardiff University in Wales researching the redevelopment of derelict industrial land and the creation of eco-communities. A native of Minneapolis, MN, his favorite activities include Nordic skiing, wilderness canoe trips, biking, and exploring cities. His wife Barbara is an artist and chaplain and they have two adult children.

Recent Activities
Dr. Bjelland loves to take geography students into the field, and in addition to local field trips, he has led field courses to the Pacific Northwest, Hawai`i, and Europe. For 2020-2021, he adapted his urban geography field trips to use bicycles. His current research projects explore post-industrial urban neighborhoods and public space in New Urbanism and conservation developments.


Professional experience

He worked as an Environmental engineering consultant between 1988-1994. He then taught at Gustavus Adolphus College, Saint Peter, MN from 1998-2013, before joining the GEO department in 2013.

Academic interests

His research interests include urban and economic geography, geographic information systems, environmental justice, urban sustainability, and faith-based place-making.

Courses Taught
GEO 200 – People, Place, and Community
GEO 230 - The Global Economy
GEO 260 - Cartography and Geographic Information Systems
GEO 310 – Urban Geography
GEO 352 – Urban Planning for Sustainable Communities
ENST 210 – Human Impacts on the Global Environment
GEO 563 – Spatial Demographics


Sample Publications
Human Geography: Landscapes of Human Activities, 13th edition, 2020. With Daniel Montello. New York: McGraw-Hall.
Introduction to Geography, 16th edition, 2021. with David Kaplan and Jon Malinowski. New York: McGraw-Hall.
Good Places for All. 2020. Grand Rapids, MI: Calvin Press.
Beyond Stewardship book chapter. 2019.
Revitalization in a Neoliberal Key.
Point Roberts
Imagined Lifeways book chapter

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