Association of American Geographers
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Vice President

(one to be elected)

Derek Alderman

DEREK H. ALDERMAN. Betty Lynn Hendrickson Professor and Head, Department of Geography, University of Tennessee. Ph.D. and M.A., University of Georgia, 1998 and 1993; B.A., Georgia Southern College, 1990. Email: Twitter: @MLKStreet

Professional Experience: Professor of Geography, University of Tennessee (2012-present) with affiliated positions in Africana Studies, Center for the Study of Social Justice, and Disasters, Displacement and Human Rights Program; Assistant Professor to Full Professor (2000-2012) and Research Fellow, Center for Sustainable Tourism (2010-2012), East Carolina University; Assistant Professor and Co-Director of Center for Georgia Studies, Georgia College and State University (1998-2000); Visiting Lecturer, Georgia Southern University (1995).

Service to Geography: Co-Director, GFDA Early Career Workshop (2016-present); Chair, Award for Program Excellence Committee, AAG (2015-present); Facilitator, AAG Department Leadership Workshop (2015-present); Chair, AAG Publications Committee (2012-2014); AAG Regional Councillor (2011-2014); J. Warren Nystrom Dissertation Award Committee, AAG (2011-2012); Co-Founder, Study of the American South Specialty Group, AAG (2007); Chair (2002-2004) and Awards Director (1998-2001), Cultural Geography Specialty Group, AAG. Service to Southeastern Division of AAG: President (2007-2009) and Past President (2009-2011); Co-Editor, Southeastern Geographer (2004-2007); Chair, Honors Committee (2002); Southern Studies Committee (1998-present). State-level service: Advisory Board, Tennessee Geographic Alliance (2012-present); Co-Coordinator, North Carolina Geographic Alliance (2002-2004); President and Vice-President, North Carolina Geographical Society (2001-2003).

Other Service: Guest editor for 12 special journal issues; (Co)organizer of 90 special sessions at professional conferences (including 48 AAG sessions); Peer reviewer for numerous book publishers, granting agencies, and academic journals (over 200 manuscript submissions to over 50 different outlets); Editorial Boards: Social and Cultural Geography (2016-present), AAG Review of Books (2013-present), Journal of Cultural Geography (2013-present), Journal of Geography in Higher Education (2013-present), Tourism Geographies (2013-present), Southeastern Geographer (2000-2003, 2007-present), Historical Geography (2004-2008), and Journal of Geography (2001-2004).

Awards and Honors: Diversity Leadership Award, University of Tennessee (2015); Media Achievement Award, AAG (2014); Meredith F. Burrill Award, AAG (2011); Outstanding Service Award, Southeastern Division of the AAG (2011); Best Journal Article Award, Urban Communication Foundation (2010); UNC Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching (2009); Globe Book Award, AAG (2008); Research Honors Award, Southeastern Division of the AAG (2006); Research Achievement Award, East Carolina University (2006); Scholar-Teacher Award, East Carolina University (2005); Distinguished Professor of Teaching, East Carolina University (2005); Distinguished University Teaching Achievement Award, NCGE (2002); J. Warren Nystrom Dissertation Award, AAG (2000).

Research and Teaching: Broadly trained human geographer with interests in cultural and historical geographies of race, civil rights, and African American belonging; public memory, heritage conflict, and places of commemoration; the racialization of mobility, travel, and tourism; and social theoretical study of place naming and urban symbolic landscapes. Much work takes place in racially charged southeastern United States and addresses inequalities faced by African Americans in their ongoing struggles for cultural and political inclusion and social/spatial justice. Currently Co-PI on large NSF-funded project examining the contested place of African slave heritage within southern plantation tourism. (Co)author of one book and over 100 journal articles, book chapters, and other essays, including in Annals of the AAG, Professional Geographer, Progress in Human Geography, Political Geography, Environment and Planning D, Journal of Historical Geography, Social and Cultural Geography, Tourism Geographies and Urban Geography. An advocate for innovations in geographic and civil rights education and teaching as active place-creating process.

Public Engagement: Delivered over 80 invited talks to universities, museums, and community groups; Interviewed or quoted over 180 times in media (e.g., CNN, New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, MSNBC, The Guardian, CityLab, BBC News, and NPR Morning Edition); Provided unpaid assistance to over 40 government organizations, non-profit groups, and minority initiatives—including NAACP, SCLC, MLK National Historic Site, and numerous U.S. cities embroiled in street naming disputes; Founder and Co-Coordinator, RESET (Race, Ethnicity, and Social Equity in Tourism) research and outreach initiative (2010-present).

Personal Statement: It is an exciting time to be a geographer! Perhaps at no other time has the discipline been at the center of so many theoretical and empirical discoveries and debates—all of this happening as the broader academy and society increasingly realize the value of geographic concepts, information, and technologies. Even in the midst of these exciting developments, there remains a great need to elevate and clarify geography’s broader public identity. Many of us still encounter frustrating questions and comments that show how little lay communities know about geography. Raising the profile of the discipline is not simply a marketing concern for me as a Department Head. It is fundamental to achieving my goals—from recruiting more undergraduate majors to being included in campus discussions of STEM, from better serving traditionally under-represented groups to maximizing the employability of students. Fortunately, AAG is making major strides to advance geography by influencing legislation, participating in highly visible research initiatives, developing educational materials and programs, and directly addressing diversity and inclusion.

As Vice President, I would like to assist in raising geography’s profile by enhancing the discipline’s “publicness,” admittedly an awkward word for capturing our capacity to engage with and hopefully inform and influence the wider public realm of ideas, practices, and debates. Different names are used in the literature to describe this idea (e.g., pubic geographies, public pedagogy, people’s geographies, community engagement) but the central idea is the same—geographers have an opportunity and arguably a responsibility not only to analyze issues and problems but also make critical interventions in how the public understands, debates, and acts on those problems. As pointed out by then-AAG President Eric Sheppard, public engagement includes but is not limited to geographers informing policy makers. Without an inclusive definition of who is the “public,” we run the risk of valuing elite perspectives and needs over the experiences and struggles of less powerful stakeholders. Going public can carry ethical and political challenges, but I believe it is crucial to demonstrating the efficacy of geographic education and research and articulating an ethics of care for people and places.

It is easy to talk about large, lofty ideas, but exactly how does one create a more public geography? First, a publicly engaged discipline is strategic and aggressive in translating and disseminating its perspectives and findings to everyday audiences and the popular media as well as within scientific, educational and government circles. For AAG, this might mean helping geographers increase and manage their interactions with the news media and public groups—such as through the development of an AAG expert guide for journalists, the generation of press releases for ground-breaking articles published in AAG journals, hosting special theme sessions at AAG meetings open to and organized for the public and the press, or training faculty and students in strategies for making their work accessible and evocative to people beyond the academy. As a Department Head, I can personally attest to the need for “healthy department practices” to help guide programs such as mine in social and mass media promotion, public outreach, and geography advocacy.

Second, public engagement is also about creating reciprocal, mutually beneficial partnerships with non-academic communities. Community, as I use the term here, refers to our discipline’s many public constituencies—from the local to the global, from the commercial to the not for profit, from the well-off and educated to those at risk. Hopefully, the knowledge co-created through these relationships can improve people’s lives, help them make sound decisions, and improve our own theorizations—whether in the context of climate change, natural hazards, transportation planning, or racialized violence. If elected, I would help AAG develop a series of academic discussions, professional development opportunities, and program initiatives that highlight the wide range of public conversations, interventions, and collaborations in which geographers participate (and can participate further) through their research, teaching, and service. For instance, AAG might consider developing a small grant program to seed community engagement projects within geography—especially projects demonstrating the discipline’s integrative power and the added value of bringing natural scientists, social scientists, and GIScientists together to address a common issue. Increasing geography’s relevance in the eyes of the public is a concern that unites us all. 


Daniel A. Griffith

DANIEL A. GRIFFITH, Ashbel Smith Professor, Geospatial Information Sciences Program, U. of Texas at Dallas. Ph.D. (U. of Toronto, 1978); M.S. (The Pennsylvania State U., 1985); M.A., B.S., Indiana U. of Pennsylvania (1972, 1970).

Service to the AAG/Geography: AAG: Publications Committee (2015-2018), Task Force updating “Ethics Statement of the AAG” (2009), Article Award Committee (2001-2003), MM&QM (now SAM) SG chair (1987-1988), MM&QM SG (1989-1991) and Microcomputer SG (1993-1996) board member, Annals of the AAG editorial board (2014-17, 1985-87) Other: Geocomputation 2015 co-chair, U. of Texas at Dallas Geospatial Information Sciences Assistant Unit Head (2005-2015), NSF Geography & Spatial Sciences panel member (2013-2015), Geographical Analysis editor (2009-2015; associate editor, 2002-2008; editorial board member, 3 terms), IGU Commission on Modeling Geographical Systems Steering Committee member (2007-present), Syracuse U. Geography Department chair (1995-1997), N.Y. State Program in Geographic Information and Analysis Deputy Director (1989-90), Graduate Studies Director (Syracuse U., 1990-92; SUNY/Buffalo).

Other Relevant Service: ISARA Steering Committee & Medal Awards Panel chairs (2014-present and 2011-2014), RSAI Councilor at Large (2015-17), Spatial Statistics 2013 chair, Mathematical Reviews reviewer (2012-present), USEPA FIRFA Scientific Advisory Panel member (2011), North American Regional Science Council President (1996-97), Syracuse U. Interdisciplinary Program in Statistics Director (1991-92 and 1993-95), Syracuse Chapter of Sigma Xi (VP, president, past-president, 1998-2001), Syracuse Chapter of ASA board member and secretary-treasurer (1991-1995, 2000-2003). Conference Scientific Committees: Spatial Accuracy, IGU, Spatial Statistics, GIScience, Spatial Econometrics Association, StatGIS. Research Proposal Reviews: NSF (6 programs across 2 directorates). Current Editorial Board Member: Geo-spatial Information Science, J. of Geographical Systems, Spatial Demography, Spatial Statistics, URISA J.

Professional Experience: Permanent Positions: U. of Texas at Dallas (2005-present), U. of Miami (2003-2005), Syracuse U. (1988-2003), SUNY/Buffalo (1978-1988), Ryerson U. (1975-1978). Adjunct Positions: U. of Alberta (2015-present), SUNY/Environmental Sciences and Forestry (1992-2003) U. of South Florida (pending). Visiting Positions: Wuhan U. (China, 2011-present), U. of Jyväskylä (Finland, 2006), U. of Cambridge (2004), U. of Rome "La Sapienza" (1995), Erasmus U./Rotterdam (1992), Oregon State U. (1990-1993). Consultant: Ministerio de Educación del Perú (2000-01), Syracuse Research Corporation (1998-99, 2003).

AAG/Geography Awards, Honors, Grants: AAG: Distinguish Research Honors (2010), AAG National Councillor nominee (2010), inaugural J. Warren Nystrom doctoral dissertation award (1980), Research Grant (1979). AAGSGs: Spatial Analysis and Modeling SG outstanding service award (2013), Microcomputer SG software prize (2nd, 1997; 1st, 1994). Other: Arthur Getis Lecture, San Diego State U. (2011), Pennsylvania Geographical Society distinguished geographer of the year (1999), inaugural U. of Toronto Geography Department outstanding alumnus (1995). Grants: NSF (G&RS/GSS; 13 during 1983-2013 totaling $2 million).

Other Major Awards, Honors, Grants: Fellow Status: American Statistical Association (2015), American Association for the Advancement of Science (2011), Regional Science Association International (2009), Spatial Econometrics Association (2007), U. of Miami Center for Ecosystems Science and Policy (2005), Fitzwilliam College/U. of Cambridge (visiting; 2004), John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (2001), New York Academy of Sciences (2000), American Statistical Association/USDA-NASS (1998). Recognitions: 46 keynote lectures, Fulbright Senior Specialist (U. of Alberta; 2015, 2005), Doctor of Science, honoris causa (Indiana U. of Pennsylvania, 2006), Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research visiting researcher (Rostock, Germany; 2005), Leverhulme Trust (UK) visiting professorship (2004), Sigma Xi (1996), Fulbright Research Fellow (Canada, 1992/93), Indiana U. of Pennsylvania outstanding alumnus (1982). Grants: (totaling $5 million) NSF(3), NIH (3), Leverhulme Trust, USDA-NASS, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, NATO Scientific Affairs (6), Canadian Embassy.

Research and Teaching Interests: Research: spatial statistics, quantitative and qualitative spatial sampling, spatial interaction, spatial optimization, urban public health. Teaching: spatial statistics, quantitative geography, urban economics, geospatial research design, location theory.

Publications: Authored or co-authored 17 books/monographs—including the AAG monographs Spatial Regression Analysis of the PC (1993) and Spatial Autocorrelation (1987)—139 articles in major refereed journals—including five in the Annals and five in The Professional Geographer—13 encyclopedia entries, 23 book chapters, 25 conference proceedings papers, and 57 secondary publications. Publication metrics (2015) include: Web of Science H-index = 22, Scopus H-index = 20, and Google Scholar H-index = 41. Publications appear in economics, epidemiology/public health, mathematics, regional science, and statistics journals. Besides AAG outlets, geography publications appear in, among others: Annals of GIS, Applied Geography, Cartography & Geographic Information Systems, Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, Economic Geography, Environment and Planning A, Geographical Analysis, GeoJournal, Geospatial Health, GIScience and Remote Sensing, International J. of Geographical Information Science, International J. of Health Geographics, J. of Geography in Higher Education, J. of Geographical Systems, l'Espace Géographique, Progress in Human Geography, Canadian Geographer, Transactions in GIS, and Urban Geography.

Statement: Serving the AAG as Vice President would be my great privilege, allowing me to make another contribution to my beloved discipline. Geography was an infatuation of mine prior to my joining the AAG in 1970. As an undergraduate, its considerable scope was one of its many appeals for me; being a mathematics major, only my extreme persistence enabled me to earn a formal geography minor as part of my B.S. degree. Having cultivated an interdisciplinary attitude then, geography’s intersections with many other disciplines, and hence its forum for interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity, launched my career, which went from an initial fascination with and curiosity about, to a lifelong commitment to studying, our surroundings (including their peoples), from the local to the world scale. If elected, I would build on this and other AAG efforts, initiatives, and priorities, working with the AAG leadership and members to promote geography in different arenas. First, I would advocate strong interaction with cognate disciplines, reflecting AAG interdisciplinary initiatives such as “Geography and Humanities” and “Geography and Health.” Not only would I support these initiatives, but I also would plan to introduce others [e.g., with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), similar to its previous “Geography and Human Rights” AAG collaborations]. One of my professional goals has been to serve as an ambassador for geography to other disciplines. My publications in prominent economics, epidemiology/public health, mathematics, regional science, and statistics journals signify some of my success in promoting geography’s integrative perspective about space, place, and nature/environment to these cognate disciplines. Furthermore, my positions on non-Geography and Spatial Sciences (non-GSS) NSF review panels, and collaborations with anthropologists, provided me with additional experience in this context. I firmly believe that a much broader audience in the academy, in government, in industry, and in society needs exposure to geography’s very best scholarship, and I endeavor to advance the discipline along these lines. My approach is consistent with current President Bednarz’s “concern about the status of our discipline,” with previous President Winkler’s contention that “[g]eography has an unlimited, but not yet fully realized, potential for contributing,” and Past President Domosh’s argument that “[g]eography is well situated to make important and critical contributions.” To date, my involvement in promoting geography has been through GIScience and Technology, reflecting AAG initiatives such as “geospatial data confidentiality.” To this end, my career goals go beyond building bridges to cognate fields by pursuing a parallel effort of spanning geography’s disparate subdisciplines, endeavoring to inspire more discourse and mutual understanding among these groups. Like most of my colleagues, I am a member of a range of AAG SGs; my memberships have been in both quantitative (e.g., GIS and SAM) and non-quantitative (e.g., Qualitative Research) SGs. In addition, I was supportive of establishing a Caribbean SG, which ties in with recent AAG initiatives concerning Puerto Rico becoming a part of the AAG regional groups. As chair of the Syracuse University (SU) Geography Department, I helped bolster its cultural geography research cluster. I also have participated in sessions co-sponsored by, for example, the Cultural Geography SG (e.g., “4126 Geographies of Comics and Graphic Novels I,” 2014 Tampa). When the AAAS announced its 2013 conference theme, “The beauty and benefits of science,” I organized a highly successful session about GIS and art, and presented a comparison between Susie Rosmarin’s paintings and a specific spatial statistical visualization technique. This particular experience is in keeping with the AAG’s geohumanities journal initiative, which I firmly endorse, especially as a member of the AAG Publications Committee. For my second goal, I would assertively promote geography not only in the academy, but also in government, the private sector, and society. My experience to date here includes in-house spatial analysis research at the USDA, working with the Onondaga County Health Department, course development for the Max Plank Institute for Demographic Research, consulting for the Syracuse Research Corporation, and publicizing the geography of lead poisoning in two Syracuse newspaper articles. All of these activities interface with AAG educational policy initiatives, emphasizing that geography matters. To be successful in making the case that geography matters, my promotion of our discipline to these external audiences would be unified, consistent, and on message(s). My experience as an IGU commission steering committee member since 2007, and a repeated IGU conference participant, would motivate me to encourage the AAG leadership to more closely coordinate with, advance, and support the IGU. I believe my advocacy of my second goal would be more effective when people in government, in the private sector, and in society realize that there is not only an "American" geography discipline, but also a global geography discipline that commands respect and international support. Third, in part because of present day job market concerns, I would aggressively pursue professional development of young geographers. One token of my commitment here is my annual support of the Nystrom award. In addition, thus far in my career, I have (co‑)convened AAG workshops to help junior colleagues augment their spatial analysis skills. Having reviewed more than 250 NSF and other funding agency proposals, I recognize that junior faculty could benefit from proposal writing support beyond what the NSF and the AAG routinely offer; I have engaged in this type of outreach in a university-wide context both at SU and at the U. of Texas at Dallas. Having been on dozens of faculty search committees, and been an external reviewer of promotion/tenure cases, once again I recognize that junior faculty could benefit from guidance about marketing themselves that goes beyond what the AAG and others offer (e.g., fortunately, many graduate schools are doing a much better job of supporting this responsibility across a range of disciplines, which also helps lay a foundation). I would build upon my experiences mentoring graduate students, ABD instructors, post-docs, and junior faculty to foster professional development of junior colleagues. In my view, department/unit chairs/heads are critical to creating and/or maintaining/improving professional development programs in the academy. I would work especially with these stakeholders, most likely in the context of venues such as the annual “AAG Departments Leadership Workshop.” My fourth, and final, major goal would be to strongly support the AAG “Diversity and Inclusion” initiative by continuing to address issues of diversity within the AAG. As editor of Geographical Analysis (GA), I aggressively expanded the journal’s editorial board beyond our Anglophone academy, and instituted abstract translations in Spanish and Chinese. My additional experiences include mentoring a minority student in public health, and teaching in China and Peru. Some of these experiences relate to the AAG’s international initiatives, particularly ones with an educational flavor. Now I wish to couple these various experiences with AAG leadership and member efforts in order to further achieve my goals, and help our organization and discipline benefit from interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary opportunities that will continue to foster an appreciation and promotion of geography in the years to come.