Highlights from the 2014 Annual Meeting in Tampa
The Association of American Geographers 2014 Annual Meeting in Tampa, Fla., hosted more than 6,000 geographers, GIS specialists, environmental scientists, and other registrants from around the world sharing the very latest in research, policy, and applications in geography, sustainability, and GIScience. Of those attending, thousands, representing approximately 30 percent of all attendees came from countries other than the USA, which continues a steady trend toward increased international participation at AAG Meetings. For comparison, the 2006 meeting in Chicago registered approximately 20 percent international attendees, while the 1982 meeting in San Antonio had only 59 international attendees, or 2.8 percent of the registered total.
This year, attendees came from 78 different countries. The largest participation of scholars from outside of the U.S. came from Canada, the UK, Germany, China, Taiwan, Australia and Sweden with strong representation of numbers of geographers from Turkey, Nigeria, Brazil, France and the Netherlands, among many others. The international attendance greatly enriched the intellectual and social events throughout the week-long conference.
The AAG Annual Meeting also featured several diversely themed research tracks and special events, many with strong international dimensions. One major themed track focused on Geographies of Climate Change, beginning with the outstanding Opening Presidential Plenary organized by AAG President Julie Winkler.
Eric Sheppard's past presidential address "Thinking Geographically: Globalizing Capitalism, and Beyond," received a standing ovation, and he also presented this year’s AAG Presidential Achievement Award to Doreen Massey, Open University (UK), for her foundational contributions to feminist geography, geographical political economy, relational geography, conceptualizations of place and space, and emancipatory approaches to urban development. Additional distinguished awards, including AAG Honors, were conveyed during the AAG Awards Luncheon on the final day of the conference.
The AAG sponsored an International Reception to celebrate the global character of the conference. Dr. Fausto Sarmiento, chair of the AAG International Research and Scholarly Exchange Committee, welcomed attendees to the reception and emphasized the importance of international collaboration. A Latin music and salsa band played while attendees danced, reunited with friends and met new colleagues from around the world. Related international events included the My Community, Our Earth / SERVIR Capstone illustrated paper session presented by a select group of 14 university students working on using geographic research for climate change under the AAG's MyCOE / SERVIR Global Fellowship Program, funded by NASA and USAID. These fellows from ten countries brought together four staggered regional rounds of 10-month fellowship terms in East Africa, Himalayas, West Africa, and Southeast Asia.
Other themes developed for the Tampa meeting were: GIScience, GIS and Policy; Racism and Violence; Scale and Sustainability and The American South.
Wide-ranging plenaries and special events included notable speakers, such as Julian Bond, civil rights pioneer and UVa. professor emeritus; a super panel of Federal agency GIS leaders; 2014 Honorary Geographer Warren Washington; author Joe Darden, Michigan State U.; Michael Mann, Penn State U.; and Tom Touchton, Tampa Bay and Florida historian and collector of historical maps. Friends and colleagues also gathered to remember Roger Tomlinson during a special tribute (See the video). Other sessions included "Global Change and Environmental Responses in China" chaired by Chenghu Zhou and "A Conversation on the Future of Physical Geography" with Julie Winkler and Ken Foote.
The above summary represents only a few of the many exciting sessions and international activities that took place at the 2014 AAG Annual Meeting. Numerous other paper, poster, and panel sessions and presentations highlighted geographic work organized by AAG members and AAG Specialty and Affinity Groups. Field trips, workshops, and a special emphasis on Careers in Geography also greatly enriched the experience of AAG conference participants.