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Welcome to the Newsletter of the Association of American Geographers (AAG). For more up-to-date news, stories, and announcements, read



Survival in a Time of Disruption in Higher Education

By Sarah Witham Bednarz

This is a challenging time to be engaged in scholarship in higher education. Shrinking state budgets and rising tuition raise concerns about the affordability—and importance—of college. Support for scholarly organizations such as the Illinois State Museum are threatened in budget battles (update). Skepticism by some members of Congress about the value of social and behavioral sciences threaten research funding at the same time universities are placing increased importance on grantsmanship for promotion and tenure. A cornerstone of education, tenure, is under attack in both K-12 (the Vergara case is rippling across the country) and higher education (Wisconsin anyone?). Fundamental notions of shared governance and academic freedom are under reconsideration with numerous examples of faculty being censored for public statements (be careful what you tweet). Increasingly our status as individual scholars and collective departments is measured and benchmarked by external organizations such as Academic Analytics using criteria we may not even be aware of—or value. Continue Reading.

Recent columns from the President

AAG Harm J. de Blij Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Geography Teaching

awardsThis new annual award recognizes outstanding achievement in teaching undergraduate geography including the use of innovative teaching methods. The award is generously funded by John Wiley & Sons in memory of their long-standing collaboration with the late Harm de Blij on his seminal geography textbooks.

Eligibility: Individual faculty or instructors who are current members of the AAG and for whom teaching geography is a primary responsibility are eligible to receive the award.

Nominations: To make nominations for the AAG Harm J. de Blij Award, you must be a current member of the AAG. Please include the complete name, affiliation and address of the nominee(s), their curriculum vitae, and a concise (500 words maximum) yet specific description of the accomplishments that warrant their selection. Digital submissions are encouraged.

Deadline: December 31, annually

Learn More.


Registration, Call for Papers are Open

GoldenGateBridge-001Join Us in San Francisco

Join the AAG and your colleagues and friends in San Francisco for the 2016 AAG Annual Meeting. The registration and abstract management sites are open. Register Now.

Researchers, scholars, professionals, and students are welcome to present papers, posters, and panel discussions on all topics relevant to geography.

Abstracts are due by Oct. 29, 2015, but may be edited through February 18, 2016. Call for Papers.

For additional information about the AAG Annual Meeting, visit

Mona Domosh’s Past President’s Address on Genealogies of Race, Gender, and Place

In her Past President’s address at the 2016 AAG Annual Meeting, Mona Domosh will explore the interconnected historical geographies of race, gender, and place. She will consider how race and racisms have been entangled with spatial imaginaries and place-based materialities throughout much of American history and geography, and how these entanglements continue to shape raced lives today. Learn More.

Landscape painter Albert Bierstadt visited the Sierra in the 1860s and 1870s and found Hetch Hetchy Valley smaller than the more famous Yosemite Valley but quite as beautiful.
Landscape painter Albert Bierstadt visited the Sierra in the 1860s and 1870s and found Hetch Hetchy Valley smaller than the more famous Yosemite Valley but quite as beautiful.

San Francisco Water: Environmental Sensibilities v. Environmental History

San Franciscans pride themselves on their progressive environmental sensibilities, but there are tensions between these sensibilities and the city’s environmental history. The story of the city’s quest for water makes this clear.

As San Francisco grew on its narrow, hilly peninsula, the city quickly depleted its artesian aquifers. Once residents polluted the city’s creeks with industrial and domestic waste, the need for water imports was clear. In the early 1860s, the newly-chartered Spring Valley Water Company developed wells in two East Bay farm districts, dammed a coastal stream that drained a wooded watershed on the San Francisco peninsula, and built a 32-mile flume to deliver water northward to San Francisco. The system’s vulnerability was apparent in April 1906, when the earthquake severed the flume and 80% of the city burned. Learn More.

[Focus on Chicago is an on-going series curated by the Local Arrangements Committee to provide insight on and understanding of the geographies of Chicago]


Upcoming AAG Award Applications and Nominations Due in September

Deadlines for a number of AAG awards are approaching in September. If you would like to nominate someone or apply on your own behalf, please follow the links highlighted in each award description below to the submission information on each award description page.

AAG Enhancing Diversity Award honors those geographers who have pioneered efforts toward or actively participated in efforts toward encouraging a more diverse discipline over the course of several years. Deadline for nominations is September 15, 2015.

The AAG Excellence in Mentoring Award is given annually to an individual geographer, group, or department who has demonstrated extraordinary leadership in building supportive academic and professional environments in their departments, associations, and institutions and guiding the academic and or professional growth of their students and junior colleagues. Deadline for nominations is September 15, 2015.

The AAG Honorary Geographer award recognizes excellence in research, teaching, or writing on geographic topics by non-geographers. Deadline for nominations is September 15, 2015.

The AAG Stanley Brunn Award for Creativity in Geography is given annually to an individual geographer or team that has demonstrated originality, creativity, and significant intellectual breakthroughs in geography. Deadline for nominations is September 20, 2015.

The J. Warren Nystrom Award supports an annual prize for a paper based upon a recent dissertation in geography. Deadline for applications is September 22, 2015.


2015-16 ACLS Fellowship Competitions Now Open

The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) is pleased to announce that the 2015-16 ACLS fellowship competitions are now open. ACLS offers fellowship programs that promote the full spectrum of humanities and humanistic social sciences research and support scholars at the advanced graduate student level through all stages of the academic career. Learn More.

Opportunity Available for Visiting Scholar in Latin American Studies

Columbus State University is seeking a distinguished visiting scholar to fill the Elena Diaz-Verson Amos Eminent Scholar Chair in Latin American Studies for spring semester 2016. The scholar must demonstrate expertise in Latin American studies. Applications in all fields of expertise will be carefully considered. The one semester appointment will begin January 2016. Learn More.


UCLA professors Glen MacDonald (left) and Laurence C. Smith
UCLA professors Glen MacDonald (left) and Laurence C. Smith

MacDonald, Smith Elected Fellows of American Geophysical Union

Glen MacDonald, UCLA’s John Muir Memorial Endowed Chair in Geography, and Laurence C. Smith, professor and chair of the UCLA Department of Geography, have been elected to the Class of 2015 Fellows of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). AGU’s Class of 2015 Fellows will be “recognized for their breakthrough achievements and exceptional work” in an honors ceremony and banquet at the AGU fall meeting in San Francisco in December. Read More.



Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial By Night - Washington DC
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial By Night – Washington DC (Glyn Lowe via Compfight)

Make Civil Rights a Geography Awareness Week Theme

By Derek H. Alderman and Josh Inwood

We have thought for some time now that it would be educationally productive to have a Geography Awareness Week theme devoted to civil rights. Tragically, events over the summer…convince us that such an event is now socially and politically necessary. Across the country…racialized violence, discrimination, and white supremacy demonstrates the power racism has over the lives of our communities, including the students in our classrooms. We encourage the National Geographic Society (NGS) and other prominent disciplinary organizations such as Association of American Geographers (AAG), American Geographical Society (AGS), National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE), and Canadian Association of Geographers (CAG) to seize this moment and organize this initiative. Continued silence not only demonstrates tacit approval of inequity in U.S. society, but calls into question the very relevance of Geography to solve the most pressing social issues in U.S. society. Read More.


Progress Towards ESEA Reauthorization

The AAG has been working hard to encourage Senators to include dedicated funding for geography as part of any new education law and have had some success to this point. Geography is again included as a core academic subject within the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) bill and there is a new funding program that awards competitive grants “to promote innovative history, civic, and geography instruction, learning strategies, and professional development activities and programs.” Read More.

House Legislation Would Undermine NSF Merit Review Process

By John Wertman

A bill (H.R. 3293) just introduced by the chair of the U.S. House Science Committee would undermine the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) longstanding use of merit review for awarding grants. The Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA) and several other organizations have expressed their opposition.

The legislation, which is similar to other bills that the AAG has alerted the geography community about, is portrayed by the Science Committee as helping to weed out grants that are unworthy of federal support. The Committee also asserts that nothing in the bill “shall be construed as altering the Foundation’s intellectual merit or broader impacts criteria for evaluating grant applications.” Read More.


Final Call for Applications: Section Editors of the Annals of the AAG

The AAG seeks applications and nominations for two section editors of the Annals of the Association of American Geographers. The upcoming vacancies are for the Nature and Society section, and the People, Place, and Region section. The new section editors will be appointed for a four-year term that will commence on January 1, 2016.

Documentation should be submitted by August 31, 2015. Read More.




Submit News to the AAG Newsletter. To share your news, submit announcements to newsletter [at] aag [dot] org.