Association of American Geographers
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Vice President

(one to be elected)


Sarah Bednarz

SARAH WITHAM BEDNARZ. Professor, Department of Geography, and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, College of Geosciences, Texas A&M University. Ph.D., Texas A&M University, 1992; M.A.T., University of Chicago, 1974; A.B. magna cum laude Mount Holyoke College, 1973.

Service to Geography (AAG): Secretary, Treasurer, Chair, Southwest Association of American Geographers, 2005-2011
; National Councillor, Association of American Geographers, 2002-2005
; Member, Association of American Geographers Nomination Committee, 1999-2000; Chair, Student Paper Competition, Geography Education Specialty Group, 1999, 2000; AAG Representative, Geography Education National Implementation Project (GENIP) 1991-1995, Chair, 1995-1996, Project Director, 1998-2008; Secretary-Treasurer, Geography Education Specialty Group, 1993-1996; ARGUS Steering Committee, member, lesson developer, and reviewer; Editorial Board, Professional Geographer, 2001-2004; Reappointed 2005
; Editorial Board, Southwestern Geographer, 2006-2010
; Chair, Geography Education Materials Development Foundation; Member, Healthy Departments Committee, 2008-present.

Other Service: International Geographical Union, Commission on Geographical Education Commissioner, 2000-2004; Vice Chair, 2004-2008, Honorary Commissioner, 2008 to present. Commissioning Editor (North America), Journal of Geography in Higher Education
. Co-coordinator, Texas Alliance for Geographic Education, 1987-2012
. Editorial Board, International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 2001-present. Advanced Placement Human Geography Test Development Committee, Member, 2006-2009; Chair, 2009-12. National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Social Studies/History Committee, 2009-10. NAEP Geography Test Development Standing Committee, 2008-present. National Geography Standards Development Committee, 1990-1994; Revision 2007-2013
. National Research Council Committee Member, Beyond Mapping, 2002-2003
; National Research Council Committee Member, Learning to Think Spatially, 2001-2004. National Council for Geographic Education Executive Board, Publications and Products Committee, 1990-1993, Curriculum and Instruction Committee, 1994-1996; Associate Editor, Journal of Geography, 1987-1997. Society of Women Geographers Dissertation Review Committee, 2013.

Professional Experience: Assistant to Full Professor, Texas A&M University (1995 to present); Lecturer, Visiting Assistant Professor, Texas A&M University, (1988-1995); Teacher, Grades 6-12 Social Studies, Language Arts, Evanston, Illinois; Hearne, Texas and College Station, Texas (1974-1988).

Awards, Honors, Grants: Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence, Texas A&M University, 2008
; Gilbert H. Grosvenor Honors for Geographic Education, Association of American Geographers, 2007
; George J. Miller Award, National Council for Geographic Education, 2005; University Distinguished Achievement Award, Association of Former Students, 2003; Association of Former Students Distinguished Teaching Award College of Geosciences, 1997; Texas A&M University International Programs External Advisory Board Award for Outstanding Service Promoting International Education and Awareness, 1997. P.I. or co-P.I. on grants from NSF, NASA, National Geographic Society, and Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Research and Teaching Interests: After a rewarding career teaching geography and other social sciences in middle and high schools in Illinois and Texas for 18 years, I completed a Ph.D. in geography education. Since then I have focused my research on understanding how individuals learn the knowledge, skills, and practices of geography. I was principal investigator for two major curriculum and educational research projects, Mission Geography (NASA) and Advancing Geospatial Skills in Geography and Spatial Sciences (NSF); co-authored the national geography standards, Geography for Life (1994 and 2012); and helped to develop the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) framework in geography. Most recently I co-chaired the Geography Education Research Committee (GERC) of the Road Map for 21st Century Geography Education Project. During my career in higher education, I have been especially interested in how geography learning is related to geospatial technologies and in teaching introductory human geography courses in meaningful ways.

Statement: As we wrote in the Road Map for 21st Century Geography Education, in our rapidly changing, interdependent and complex world, the importance of the geographic advantage (Hanson 2004) and geography education is evident. Yet, like most geographers, I am concerned about the status of our discipline in the United States, both in elementary and secondary schools and in higher education. The AAG has done excellent work in the last decade to elevate geography in colleges and universities, especially in its support for initiatives related to early career faculty, careers in geography, healthy departments, and communicating about the practices of geography. It has collaborated with a range of partners to effect positive change in K-12 education as well. However, higher education is changing rapidly. We live in an age of metrics and accountability, of declining student enrollments, and of greater demands for diversity. These are areas in which our professional association could do more, specifically by developing tools, assessments, and “best practices” that departments and programs could use to benchmark achievement. If elected, I will work with members to devise such tools and policies, including methods to track geography graduate placement, issues related to diversity and healthy workplaces, and enhancement of undergraduate and graduate education.


Craig Colten; photo by Jim Zietz, LSU University Relations 2012

CRAIG E. COLTEN.  Carl O. Sauer Professor of Geography, Louisiana State University and Director of Human Dimensions, The Water Institute of the Gulf. Ph.D. (Syracuse University, 1984), M.A. and B.A. (Louisiana State University, 1978 and 1974). 

Service to Geography: Chair, AAG J.B. Jackson Book Award Committee (2012-present), Council, American Geographical Society (2013-present); AAG Nystrom Award Committee (2009-10); Editor, Geographical Review (2007-2012), Editorial Board (1996-2002); AAG Secretary (2007-2009); AAG Southwest Regional Councillor (2006-2009); Host and Panelist, AAG Healthy Departments Workshop (2007);  AAG Local Arrangements, New Orleans meeting (2003); LSU, Department Chair (2001-2003 and 2007): AAG Historical Geography Specialty Group, Chair (1995-97), Councillor (1987-89); AAG Employment Opportunities and Career Development Committee, Chair (2000-2004), Member (1998-2000).

Other Service: Chair, Local Arrangements, American Historical Association annual meeting (2013); U. S. Department of Interior, Strategic Sciences Group (2010-2012); Research Associate, Community and Regional Resilience Institute (2008-2010); Chair, Local Arrangements, American Society for Environmental History annual meeting (2007);  Co-Editor, Historical Geography (1999-2006); Illinois Historic Sites Advisory Council (1990-93), plus service on several editorial boards and professional organization councils/boards.

Professional Experience: Associate to Full Professor, Louisiana State University (2000-2013); Director of Human Dimensions, The Water Institute of the Gulf (2013-present); Associate to Full Professor, Texas State University (1996-2000); Senior Project Manager, PHR Environmental Consultants (1994-1996); Associate Curator & Research Associate to Senior Research Associate, Illinois State Museum and Research Scientist, Hazardous Waste Research and Information Center (1984-1994). Expert witness in two dozen environmental court cases.

Research and Teaching Interests: Historical geography, environmental geography, hazards, water resources, and Louisiana and the American South.

Awards, Honors, Grants: Rachel Carson Fellowship, Munich, Germany (2014); Carl O. Sauer Professorship, LSU (2004-present); Lindsay O’Connor Professor of American Institutions, Colgate University (2009); AAG Media Achievement Award (2006); J.B. Jackson Prize (2006); Fred B. Kniffen Book Award (2006); Towner Award, Illinois Humanities Council (1989). Grants from NIEHS, SAMSHA, MMS, NPS, USACE, Illinois Environmental Protection Trust Fund.

Publications: Author/co-author/editor/co-editor of seven books and more than 80 articles in such outlets as Geographical Review, Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences, The Professional Geographer, Urban Geography, Journal of Historical Geography, Natural Hazards, Ecology and Society Journal of American History, Environmental History, Technology and Culture, Environment, American Anthropologist, Journal of Southern History, and Publican Historian. Curator/contributor to several museum exhibits and author/co-author to numerous funded research reports.

Statement: Geography has experienced noteworthy growth in the past decade, and during that time the AAG has established itself as the premier professional organization in the field. To sustain this success, I see several areas of opportunity for the association. At a practical level, since students constitute a sizable proportion of our membership and with tight budgets in universities, future graduates will turn to employment in government and the private sector. Our association should strive to improve its outreach and involvement of practicing geographers in order to retain these important members. As a former practitioner, I will advocate for building on previous initiatives to make the association more inclusive and in doing so better serve the professional needs of geographers in the academy as well as the private and public sector. Within the discipline, we should foster the maintenance of the full range of methodological and topical pursuits. Specialization, while essential, has impeded effective communication among science and humanities scholars. Working with the editors of our journals and leaders of specialty groups, I will explore opportunities to deepen our appreciation for and understanding of scholarship by geographers who do not share the same specialization. Inclusion and effective communication within geography can strengthen our ability to reach the broader public as well. If elected, I will endeavor to enhance the visibility and viability of geography as a field where practitioners and academics can build alliances and make significant discoveries; new technologies and paradigms can thrive side by side with established approaches; all scales and forms of geographic inquiry are respected; and society and university administrators turn for answers to pressing questions.