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AAG Careers and Professional Development Webinar Series

In fall 2020, AAG piloted two new webinar series as a service to AAG members and the wider geography community. Although the topics focus on issues for geographers navigating their early careers and geography leadership building and growing strong academic programs, these subjects can be insightful for everyone.

Both series are an extension of successful AAG efforts to support our members and their work through meetings, workshops and publications. 

We hope these webinars will offer comparable opportunities year-round to larger audiences.

The leadership series was organized by Shannon O’Lear (University of Kansas) and Ken Foote (UConn) and the early career series was organized by Mark Revell (AAG) and Ken Foote.

New for Fall 2020!


If you missed attending the sessions, you may view the recorded versions below. In some cases, transcript links are also included.

Making the Case for Geography

Communicating geography’s value to wider audiences is a long-standing challenge for our field. This leadership series webinar brings together three of our discipline’s leaders, Dave Kaplan, Alec Murphy and Marie Price, who focus on the value of and challenges to the discipline of geography. It was originally held and recorded on Sept. 25, 2020.

Watch the recording (use passcode: gQFe!0!M)

View the chat notes

Encroachment or Opportunity? Geography in a World of Interdisciplinary Programs

What are the opportunities and challenges faced by geography departments among a growing number of interdisciplinary programs in closely related fields, such as Environmental Studies, Global and International Studies, GIScience, Urban Studies, Geosciences, Environmental Science and Sustainability Studies? Sometimes geographers have built alliances with nearby disciplines, in others competition has ensued. These issues have led to questions about rebranding, renaming, merging or blending geography with other programs. These four geography leaders have faced these questions as academic leaders in a range of universities.

This leadership series webinar features Grant Saff, Melissa Gilbert, Kavita Pandit, and Hengchun Ye and will be coordinated with the joint, virtual Race, Ethnicity and Place Conference and Middle Atlantic regional AAG meeting. It was originally held and recorded on Oct. 23, 2020.

Watch the recording (use passcode: raR8#kwu)

View the chat notes

Positive Steps Toward Tenure

This session focuses on the many questions that arise as early career faculty move toward tenure review, such as:

  • What are the expectations for tenure in my department or university? How can I find out?
  • Where are the best places to publish and what are good strategies for building a publishing record?
  • Should I obtain internal or external grants? Which ones are best? Will they count?
  • How do I balance teaching, service and research to build my career?
  • How can I use service strategically towards both me and my program?

All of these questions can make the tenure process stressful. This session aims to reduce this stress by pointing out positive steps early career faculty can take along the way to build strong records in research, teaching and service.

Join panelists Katherine Hankins (Chair, Geosciences, Georgia State University), Benjamin Ofori-Amoah (Chair, Geography, Environment, and Tourism, Western Michigan University), and others as they answer many questions that arise as early career faculty move toward tenure review. This webinar was originally held and recorded on Oct. 30, 2020.

Watch the recording (use passcode: iDN&F5%H)

Charting Your Career Pathway in Geography and Geotechnologies

Lifelong geographer Joseph Kerski discusses:

  • What are the forces and trends that will be acting in geography and geotechnologies in the decade of the 2020s? 
  • How can you effectively chart your own career pathway by embracing these forces and trends, and by building five key skills? 

Joseph has served as geographer in four sectors of society (industry, government, nonprofit, and academia) and promises to make this a lively and informative workshop where you are welcome to interact and ask questions.

This was held and recorded Nov. 6, 2020, and coordinated with the Southeast Division SEDAAG Regional Meeting.

Watch the recording (use passcode: *kj42#6z)

What's in a Name? Undergraduate Student Perceptions of Geography, Environment, and Sustainability Key Words and Program Names

What attracts students to our courses and to our majors? Three co-authors of a forthcoming Annals article have helped answer these questions by surveying more than 4,000 undergraduates at four U.S. universities, asking them to rate key words from course titles and descriptions as well as degree and department names. The results suggest strategies for attracting students to our classes, and majors to our programs. Among the key findings that will be discussed are that undergraduates overwhelmingly and consistently preferred simple, thematic types of terms to those that sounded more technical or science oriented. Forms of the word geography were rated significantly lower than words or phrases containing environment and sustainability. Forms of geography that included the word science were rated particularly low.This leadership webinar features Justin Stoler (University of Miami), Amber Pearson (Michigan State University) and Diana Ter-Ghazaryan (Florida International University). This session is coordinated with the Southwest Regional Division regional meeting and is also part of AAG's recognition of Geography Awareness Week. It was originally held and recorded on Nov. 17, 2020.

Watch the recording (use passcode: @9QEz=i7)

Careers in Geography: A Discussion with Business, Government, and Nonprofit Sector Geographers

Geography graduates have everything it takes for success in today’s workforce. Their unique mix of interdisciplinary knowledge, skills and abilities have perhaps never been more relevant. Geospatial skills are in high demand across all sectors of the workforce, from state, local and federal government, to NGOs, businesses and consulting firms large and small. But selling your skills to employers who might not understand the value of a degree in geography can be extremely challenging and frustrating. Let’s face it: there just aren’t many job listings out there that say “Wanted: Geographer.” So where do you start?

This session brings together practicing geographers from a broad range of employment sectors to showcase the dynamic career options available to geography graduates. Each panelist will talk for ~5 minutes on how they landed their first job “in the field,” after which the session will be opened up to audience Q&A. 

This special webinar features practicing geographers Joshua Comenetz (U.S. Census Bureau), Caitlin Kontgis (Descartes Labs), Louvere Walker-Hannon (MathWorks), Trang VoPham (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center), and Tim Fullman (The Wilderness Society) about the dynamic career options available to geography graduates. It was originally held and recorded on Nov. 20, 2020 and a highlight of Geography Awareness Week.

Watch the recording (use passcode: 9fKS5Q#H)