Association of American Geographers
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President

(one to be elected)

David H. Kaplan

DAVID H. KAPLAN. Professor, Department of Geography, Kent State University. Ph.D. and M.S., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1991 and 1986. B.A., Johns Hopkins University, 1982. Email: dkaplan@kent.edu Twitter: @dhkaplanoh

Professional Experience: Assistant to Full Professor of Geography, Kent State University (1995–). Founder and Director of Environmental Studies Program (2017–). Coordinator of Urban Studies Program (1996–). Various administrative positions and committee chairships, Kent State University. Assistant Professor, University of St. Thomas (1992–1995). Assistant Professor, University of Southern California (1991–1992).

Research, Advising, Teaching: My research interests include nationalism, borderlands, ethnic and racial segregation, urban and regional development, housing finance, and sustainable transportation. I have written about 60 peer-reviewed articles and chapters, edited four special issues, given about 60 invited lectures, and authored or edited 10 titles. These include the textbooks Urban Geography (3rd ed.) and Human Geography, and two titles published in 2017: Navigating Ethnicity and Scaling Identities. I have received external funding from the U.S. Dept. of Transportation, the Ford Foundation, the Academy of Finland, the State of Ohio, the National Science Foundation, the Canadian Embassy, and the AAG. I am or have been the principal adviser of 19 Ph.D. students, 28 M.A. students and four honors students. I teach courses on many different aspects of human geography from the introductory to the doctoral level.

Service to Geography: Includes positions as Vice President of AAG (2018-19), President of the East Lakes Division of the AAG (2003–2006), Councilor for the AAG (2006–2009), Panelist for NSF Geography and Regional Science (2007–2009), Organizer of the Race Ethnicity and Place Conference (2016), and Councilor for the American Geographical Society (2014–). As AAG Councilor, I coordinated the Stand Alone Geographers group and worked on other measures to increase diversity. Various other specialty group and AAG committees. External referee for 22 promotion or tenure decisions.

Editorial Experience: I edit a book series by Rowman & Littlefield, Exploring Geography (2017–); editor of National Identities, an interdisciplinary journal(2001–); and editor-in-chief of the Geographical Review (2015–).

Awards and Honors: Kent State University Distinguished Teaching Award (2018). Susan Hardwick Excellence in Mentoring Award (2018). Ethnic Geography Career Award (2016). Olson Award for Graduate Service (2015). Kent State University Distinguished Teaching Award Finalist (2014). Carroll Professorship, University of Oregon (2014). Korean Society Fellowship (2013). LaCoste Chair, University of Paris (2011). Marquis Who’s Who in America (2009–). Nations and Nationalism,Best Reference Title (2008); Journal of Urban Affairs, Best Paper Finalist (2001); American Review of Canadian Studies, Most Distinguished Article (1989–1990).

Public Engagement: Leader, Community Engagement Curricular Taskforce (2016–2017). Strategy Chair, Portage Park Levy—which passed after five previous unsuccessful tries (2013–2014). Founder and Director, City and Community Studies Initiative (2009–). Initiator and Chair, Transportation Advisory Committee (2006–). Successfully proposed a bike-share program between Kent State and Kent (2013). Sustainable Transportation Initiatives for Kent and Kent State (2008–2010). Testimony on predatory lending, Ohio House Committee (2009). Directed Crain Avenue Bridge Study (2002) and a Joint Traffic Study to alleviate congestion in Kent (2002–2004). Co-author, City of Kent Bicentennial Plan (2004). Member, Portage County Farmland Preservation Task Force (1999–2002). Expert Witness, Washington, DC predatory lending lawsuit (1999–2000). Co-director, Feasibility Study for Commuter Rail in Northeast Ohio (1998).

Statement: I am honored to be considered for president of this great association, one that I have been affiliated with for 34 years. This next year is going to be exceptionally important as we will be transitioning from our outstanding executive director to a new director who will take over the operations of our increasingly large, increasingly global organization.

My goals for the presidency are in line with the goals that I submitted last year and which I have begun to put into operation. First, the AAG needs to promote more institutional diversity, extending its reach and its relevance to people who work in community colleges, as stand-alone geographers, in smaller teaching-oriented departments, and in historically black, tribal, and Hispanic serving institutions. Beginning with panel sessions at the upcoming AAG meeting in Washington, we should begin the process of understanding how the AAG can promote greater engagement, provide better resources, and otherwise improve the professional lives of geographers at these institutions.

Second, we need to better prepare geographers for non-academic careers. Only about half of all Ph.D.s end up in academia and we need to acknowledge and lean into this fact. Some good work was already done before I stepped into the VP role, and I have attempted to further this by establishing a task force of members who can devise ways to restructure our attitudes and pathways in order to bring geographic expertise to a wider circle.

Third, it is time to rethink the AAG regions. As a former chair of the East Lakes Division, I believe that regions are vital to our organization. Regional meetings provide benefits impossible to obtain at our exciting but massive national meeting. But we need to work on how we can make the regions and the regional meetings, which is their hallmark, a more vital part of our geographical year. I do not have any fixed ideas, but have assembled a task force of people from every region to examine how we might revive our regions. I hope that by next year, we will have some proposals to shop around and perhaps implement. 

I understand that historically I am one of the few candidates for president who did not come from a Research I institution. As such, I hope to bring a fresh perspective to this organization and help it develop even further as the best and most responsive academic organization, not just in geography, but in academia as a whole.