• Role:

  • Position:

    • Professor
  • Concentration:

    • Geography
  • Department:

    • Anthropology and Geography
  • Education:

    • Ph.D. in Geography, University of Georgia, 1981 M.A. in Geography, Arizona State University, 1977 B.A. in International Relations, with Special Honors in Political Science, West Texas State University (now West Texas A&M University), 1974
  • Curriculum Vitae:


Dr. Johnson wrote his dissertation on industrial location in the U.S. South. His first several publications reflected his interest in industrial geography and economic development in the South. While in graduate school, he also developed areas of expertise in urban geography (particularly shantytown development in “Third World” cities) and cartography/GIS. His regional specialization was Latin America. He was an OAS Fellow to Ecuador, where he did research on the Ecuadorian abarrotería (convenience store). During his career at the University of New Orleans, he developed interests in political geography, the relevance of GIS/remote sensing to business/economic development, and the meaning of virtual worlds to geography. He is also a co-editor for, and contributor to, a major world regional geography textbook.

Dr. Johnson was born in Kansas, and raised in Texas, Colorado, Nebraska, and Canada. He graduated from Ontario Grade XIII in London, Canada. (His father was a professor of music at the University of Western Ontario.) He returned to the States for college and finished a B.A. in International Relations from West Texas State University. He discovered an interest in geography during an abortive one year in law school, and subsequently earned an M.A. in geography from Arizona State University. Upon graduation he contemplated a career in the U.S. Foreign Service—passed the exam, was invited to interview—but elected instead to pursue a Ph.D. in geography at the University of Georgia and to enter a life in academia.

His first and only academic appointment was at the University of New Orleans (UNO). He rose through the ranks to become a full professor of geography in 1994. His publication interests focused initially on industrial development in the U.S. South. He later wrote on other topics, including the use of GIS/remote sensing in business and economic development. He was a NASA JOVE fellow for three summers at the Stennis Space Center where he studied the relationship between GIS/remote sensing and economic development. He also developed interests in political geography, the value of remote sensing in understanding shantytown development in cities, and the significance of virtual worlds to education generally, and to geography specifically.

Dr. Johnson has taught literally thousands of students. His teaching assignments included world regional geography, economic geography, political geography, Europe, cartography, and geographic thought. He especially enjoyed teaching freshman classes and serves as co-editor of, and contributor to, an introductory level world regional textbook.

Most of his time at UNO, however, was spent in administration. He was Chair of the Geography Department from 1989 to 2000. His strategic emphases during that time included building a robust GIS/remote-sensing presence in the department and launching an M.A. program. In 2001, he was summoned to the dean’s office to serve as Associate Dean for the College of Liberal Arts. His work embraced a range of administrative responsibilities, including serving as the college technology and fiscal officer. In addition, he supervised international initiatives, not the least of which was a student recruiting program in Latin America; he became its director in 2005. In 2008, he was appointed Associate Provost of the University. That title changed a number of times for a variety of reasons after 2008, and he finished his life in Academic Affairs as the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs. At one time or another, he was engaged in the oversight of virtually every type of work associated with academic and student affairs. He retired as Professor of Geography and Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs in June of 2015.

In June of 2015, Dr. Johnson was pleased to join INTO CSU as its Academic Director.


Political geography; industrial development in the U.S. South; the use of GIS/remote sensing in business and economic development


Johnson, Merrill L. (2006) Geographical Reflections on the ‘New’ New Orleans in the Post-Hurricane Katrina Era. The Geographical Review 96: 139-156.

Johnson, Merrill L. (1997) To Restructure or Not to Restructure: Contemplations on Postwar Industrial Change in the U.S. South. Southeastern Geographer 37: 162-192.

Johnson, Merrill L. (1996) GIS in Business: Issues to Consider in Curriculum Decision Making. Journal of Geography 95: 98-105.

Johnson, Merrill L. (1994) Public Policy and Industrial Location in the Lower Mississippi Delta in an Era of Restructuring. Southeastern Geographer 34: 17-39.

Johnson, Merrill L. (1991) An Empirical Update on the Product-Cycle Explanation and Branch Plant Location in the Nonmetropolitan South. Environment and Planning A 23: 397-409.

Johnson, Merrill L. (1990) A Survey-Based Analysis of Race and Manufacturing Branch Plant Location in the Nonmetropolitan South. Southeastern Geographer 30: 79-93.

Johnson, Merrill L. (1989) Industrial Transition and the Location of High-Technology Branch Plants in the Nonmetropolitan Southeast. Economic Geography 65: 33-47.

Johnson, Merrill L. (1988) Labor Environment and the Location of Electrical Machinery Employment in the U.S. South. Growth and Change. 19: 56-74.


  • GR180A1, Regional Geography – Europe and the Americas

  • GR481A2, Political Geography