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National Councilors

(two to be elected)


Meghan Cope (photo credit Sally McCay)

MEGHAN COPE. Professor, Department of Geography, University of Vermont (2006-present). PhD in Geography, University of Colorado-Boulder (1995), MA in Geography, University of Colorado-Boulder (1992), BA in Sociology, Vassar College (1989). Assistant/associate professor, Department of Geography, State University of New York – Buffalo (1995-2006). (Photo credit: Sally McCay)

Service to the AAG: Most of my service to the AAG has been channeled through specialty groups in the years since I joined as a graduate student in 1991. I have organized panels and sessions at almost all annual meetings, most recently “Critical Race Perspective on New Orleans” in 2018. Informally, I now use the AAGs as a time to meet with and mentor early career scholars.
Qualitative Research Specialty Group: Founder and Chair (1999-2001); Treasurer (2006-2008); website manager (1999-2015).
Political Geography Specialty Group: Board Member (1997 – 1999); Secretary/Treasurer (1999 – 2001); President (2001-2003).
Urban Geography Specialty Group:
Board Member (1997 – 1999 and 2016-2018); Newsletter editor (1995, 1997-99); Website manager (1998-2002); Graduate research application judge, 2016-17.
Digital Geographies Specialty Group: Board Member (2018-2020)
GFDA presenter/Department Leadership Workshop participant (2010 and 2014).
Editorial board of Professional Geographer, 1997-2000.
Nominating Committee for the AAG, Chair 2016-17.

Other relevant experience: Chair, Department of Geography, University of Vermont (2009-2011, 2012-2015); NSF review panels (DDRI and senior panel several times). Editorial Board Member: Urban Geography (2007-present); Professional Geographer (1997-2000); Journal of Historical Geography (1997-2005). Book Review Editor, Urban Geography (2007-2011). External reviewer for over a dozen tenure and promotion cases, ad hoc reviewer for NSF and other funders, article reviews for 20+ distinct publications. NSF CAREER Award, 1999-2005, Children's Conceptualizations of Urban Space in Low-Income Areas. USDOT/New England Transportation Consortium, 2013-2014: Accessibility and Independent Mobility in Rural and Suburban Built Environments: Challenges and Opportunities for Young People (with Brian H.Y. Lee)

Awards: University of Vermont College of Arts & Sciences Distinguished Service Award, 2019. Ashby Prize, Environment and Planning A 2006; J. Warren Nystrom Dissertation Award, Association of American Geographers, 1997; Dissertation Award, Urban Geography Specialty Group of the AAG, 1996.

Research and Teaching Interests: I am an urban social geographer interested in social (in)justice, everyday life, and geographies of marginalization and oppression. I mostly focus on young people’s experiences and mobility in American cities, including NSF-funded work on children’s urban geographies in Buffalo, NY (2000-2006) and DOT-funded research on the (im)mobility of Vermont teens in adultist landscapes (Annals, 2016). My newest project is called Mapping American Childhoods, which develops critical historical geography perspectives on the social construction of childhood and young people’s everyday experiences in late 19th/early 20th century American cities. My interests in qualitative data, mapping, and visualization have led me to develop work on blending qualitative research with geographic information systems (GIS): I co-edited a book with Sarah Elwood on this topic in 2009 (Qualitative GIS: A Mixed-Methods Approach). I am a co-editor of Key Methods in Geography (2016) and the 5th edition of Qualitative Research Methods in Human Geography with Iain Hay (2021). My published work includes pieces on research methods, children’s geographies, urban post-industrial decline, feminist geography, public scholarship, participatory research, and pedagogy. Recently, I have been active on the UVM campus promoting ways to incorporate mapping and data visualization in cross-disciplinary applications working with a team on a ‘digital humanities’ visualization project funded by UVM’s Humanities Center. I am very fortunate to be at a small research university with a large liberal arts college in it; the University of Vermont has enabled me to maintain a research agenda while also committing my teaching energy to the undergraduate level with creativity and academic rigor. I teach introductory human geography, urban geography, historical geography, and qualitative research methods. I am a firm believer in service-learning, experiential learning, hands-on community-based projects, and fostering students’ ability to lead their own engagement in the classroom and beyond.

Statement: My vision for the National Council includes identifying key initiatives that will move the AAG forward on three main fronts.

  1. I am excited and energized by the progress made recently in Black Geographies but we cannot, as a discipline and professional organization, assume that scholars of color will carry this work alone. The National Council should develop mechanisms for support, expansion, learning, debate, and self-reflection that will spur all geographers take on active roles in dismantling racial oppression. By the same token, I am deeply appreciative of the initiative to combat sexual harassment at the meetings and beyond but, similarly, this is an issue that all geographers must take on actively in every aspect of their lives without losing momentum. It is not an issue that will be “solved” in a year or two and then we can move on. Related to this is the need to raise awareness and support for LGBTQ+ members with a particular focus on transgender and two-spirit folks, in recognition of their struggle and the violence often committed against them. As one small step, last year I suggested that the AAG provide the opportunity for all members to add their pronouns to their nametags and I believe that change has been made.  We must work together to end all forms of gender oppression.
  2. We are in a climate emergency. Geographers cannot ignore the tremendous footprint our annual meetings have in terms of carbon emissions, plastic and other waste, exploitative work relations, and perpetuation of practices that are deeply damaging to our environment. While I value and support the face-to-face interactions in the meetings, we must now explore and identify ways to create stimulating gatherings that dial back on environmental damage. As a discipline concerned with the earth, seas, and atmosphere; with human and non-human well-being; and with ethical social practices, we must step up as leaders in a new model of professional meetings. I propose that the National Council takes this on with serious intent and engages in participatory opportunities for the general membership to contribute ideas and suggestions.
  3. We must continue our fight against the anti-science disinformation campaign raging in/through our media, seeping into policy, and causing direct environmental damage and human suffering. This is not a partisan stance: all engaged members of our society should demand transparency and honesty in media, political processes, and social action. The National Council has an obligation to stand up for human rights, the findings of rigorous science, and honest discourse. The AAG’s monitoring of court cases, legal developments, and politically-motivated restrictions in government funding is an excellent start and the Council should identify steps to support and enhance these approaches.


Jason Dittmer

JASON DITTMER. Professor of Political Geography. Department of Geography. University College London (UCL). PhD in Geography, 2003, Florida State University; MA in International Affairs, 1999, Florida State University; BA in Political Science and International Studies, 1998, Jacksonville University.

Service to the AAG and wider discipline: From 2005-2007 I was a board member of the Political Geography Specialty Group and served as co-organizer of the 2007 PGSG Pre-Conference. I also served as Secretary/Treasurer (2007-2009) and as President (2009-2011) of the PGSG. From 2011-2014 I served on the Membership Committee of the AAG, and again from 2016-2018. In 2018-2019 I served on the AAG Nominations Committee. More broadly I have contributed to the discipline by serving the editorial boards of Professional Geographer, Political Geography, and Social and Cultural Geography. I currently serve as the book review editor for Social and Cultural Geography, and since 2011 I have served as an Advisory Editor for Oxford Bibliography Online: Geography. Since 2014 I have edited a book series (Material Bodies, Geopolitical Worlds) for Rowman and Littlefield International.

Publications: I am the author of Diplomatic Material (Duke University Press, 2017), Captain America and the Nationalist Superhero (Temple University Press, 2013), and Popular Culture, Geopolitics, and Identity (Rowman and Littlefield, 1st ed. 2010, 2nd ed. 2019). I am also the (co)editor of five edited volumes or readers. I have published over 80 journal articles and book chapters in journals such as the Annals of the American Association of Geographers, Progress in Human Geography, and the Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers.

Awards, Honors, and Grants: I have received over £200,000 in research funding from the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council, as well as a range of small grants I was the 2006 recipient of the Stanley D. Brunn Young Scholar Award and the 2011 recipient of the Richard Morrill Public Outreach Award, both given by the PGSG. In teaching, I received the Wells/Warren Professor of the Year award (voted for by the Georgia Southern University student body) in 2007, and in 2016 I received the UCL Student Choice Award for Outstanding Teaching. In 2019 I received a UCL Education Award for curriculum design. I have been invited to give keynote lectures at conferences held at the University of Milano-Bicocca, Newcastle University, the University of Oslo, the Royal Geographical Society, the University of Bologna, Birkbeck, the University of Copenhagen, the University of Birmingham, Shaanxi Normal University, Indiana University, and the University of Helsinki. I have been a visiting fellow at the University of Western Sydney, London School of Economics, University of Siegen, University of Ostrava, California State University – Northridge, and St. Cloud State University.

Research and Teaching Interests: My research and teaching efforts are broadly in the field of political geography, but with some crossover to cultural geography and other disciplines such as international studies. I maintain an interest in popular geopolitics, a field to which I contributed an empirical focus on superheroes (especially Captain America) and a conceptual focus on affect, audiences, and everyday life. My more recent work has turned to assemblage theory and its implications for political geography. This has allowed me to, among other things, highlight the relational and material elements of diplomacy. My current research is focusing on materiality and Gibraltar.

Statement: I have been an AAG member since I started my PhD, and have attended every AAG Annual Meeting since 2001, despite moving from the USA to London in 2007. Quite frankly, I love the AAG and spending that week with friends and colleagues is one of the best parts of any given year for me. Most of my service to the AAG has come since my trans-Atlantic move, illustrating my commitment to the organization despite the challenges and expense of remaining fully engaged from afar.

In 2015 the AAG voted to change its name to shift the emphasis from the nationality of its members to the locus of the organization. This recognized the increasingly international membership of the AAG, and its role as the largest meeting of geographers in the world (over 1/3 of the 2017 attendees came from abroad). The AAG Long Range Plan (2015: 6) has as its first recommendation that the AAG should “foster global engagement to build an international community of geographers.” Yet, paradoxically, we still elect ‘National’ Councilors and in many other ways the organization remains oriented to the United States. I am running for (Inter)National Councilor to serve all AAG members, but especially to highlight the issues facing AAG members abroad. Some issues that I would like to champion during my term include: 1) continued advocacy for an immigration regime in the United States that recognizes the freedom of movement for scholars from outside the Euro-American orbit who are engaging in teaching, research, and knowledge exchange, 2) a review of annual meeting costs, which serve as a deterrent for participation given the additional costs in travel and time for international participants, and 3) the creation of a dedicated role in AAG governance for representatives of the international membership (perhaps among the regional division councilors). 


Katherine Hankins

KATHERINE HANKINS. Professor and Chair. Department of Geosciences. Georgia State University (GSU). Ph.D., 2004, University of Georgia; M.A., 2001, University of Arizona; A.B., 1997, Dartmouth College.

Service to AAG and Geography: Chair of the Urban Geography Specialty Group (UGSG), 2018-2020; Vice Chair 2016-2018; Secretary of the Southeast Division of the American Association of Geographers (SEDAAG) 2012-2014; Board member of the Urban Geography Specialty Group 2010-2012; Georgia representative to SEDAAG 2010-2012; Board member of the Political Geography Specialty Group 2007-2009; Organizer, presenter, and panelist in over 50 sessions at the Annual Meeting of AAG and SEDAAG 2001-present. I serve (or have served) as an Editorial Board member of Urban Geography and Journal of Urban Affairs, The Southeastern Geographer, and am a founding editorial board member of the open-access journal Atlanta Studies. In addition, I have reviewed numerous manuscripts and book proposals, and I have served as an ad hoc reviewer and panelist for the National Science Foundation for the GRFP, CAREER, and regular research proposals for the Geography and Spatial Science program.

Honors, Awards, Grants: Research: I have been Principal Investigator or Co-Principal Investigator on external research grants from the National Science Foundation (REU 2012-2016; Conference grant 2018-2020), the Hong Kong Research Council (2017-2019); the Georgia Department of Transportation (2015-2023); and the National Institutes of Health (2012-2015) (totaling over $2 million) and internal Georgia State University awards or grants (totaling over $100,000). Awards: National Council for Geographic Education best college/university article in Journal of Geography 2008; Best dissertation award from the Urban Geography Specialty Group of the AAG 2004; Winner, Student Honors Paper Competition, SEDAAG 2003.

Research and Teaching:  As an urban geographer, my research examines how the city is produced and navigated by individuals, groups, and organizations, primarily at the scale of the neighborhood. I pay particular attention to how various practices and moments of urban place-making become ‘political,’ whether through organized collective action or in the ‘quiet politics’ of everyday decision-making and practice. In empirical projects in and about Atlanta, I have considered various ‘city makers’—agents of urban spatial change—in the arenas of schooling, community development, and housing. In addition, my work has drawn from and contributed to understandings of the city as a product of individual and collective mobilities, particularly as these relate to the dynamic complexities of housing access and urban social change. Methodologically, I am a qualitative researcher with a commitment to resource under-represented groups in co-producing knowledge, both in the context of advising minority and/or first-generation undergraduate and Master’s students at Georgia State University, designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a Predominantly Black Institution, and in facilitating community-engaged scholarship. Most recently, I am engaged in a project examining the ways in which economic migrants and refugees navigate the housing landscape in Atlanta and the roles of grassroots and other non-governmental organizations in facilitating their pathways. In this international, comparative project funded by the Hong Kong Research Council, my colleagues in Hong Kong, China, and Tshwane, South Africa, and I are examining the housing experience of urban migrants as they enter difficult and often highly constrained housing opportunities in different urban contexts. In all three cities, we have spent substantial time developing and recruiting steering groups consisting of housing-policy experts, volunteers, and activists who oversee resettlement and support-service organizations for refugees and immigrants. Teaching: I teach a range of courses, including introductory human geography, urban geography, qualitative methods in geography; contemporary urban theory and issues, and I have mentored over two dozen Master’s students, the majority of whom are from under-represented minority groups.

Publications: I have published 30+ journal articles and book chapters, which appear in the Annals of the American Association of Geographers, The Professional Geographer, Antipode, Environment and Planning A, Urban Geography, Urban Studies, and Social and Cultural Geography, among others, in addition to edited volumes.

Statement: The AAG remains an important professional organization for the discipline and as such must continue to strive to meet our contemporary challenges. Should I have the opportunity to serve as a National Councilor, I would prioritize the following: (1) Continue to press for diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in the AAG organization and at meetings by taking on thorny questions of inter-generational and subdisciplinary epistemological differences and practices. Diversity initiatives can often ring hollow and yet, in the context of the organization, I want to explore answers to questions about the best practices to create an inclusive intellectual environment for the next generation of scholars, on whose epistemological and political contributions the vitality of our discipline depends; (2) Support and expand initiatives for leadership development. I am a product of both the Early Career Geography Faculty Development Alliance (2005) and the Healthy Departments Leadership Workshop (2019), and these investments have been important in my own career trajectory in connecting me with scholars in different subdisciplines and from different kinds of institutions. As a National Councilor, I would seek to find ways to expand opportunities for participants from a range of institutions to participate as leaders and as participants in these kinds of efforts; (3) Enhance the AAG as a resource to communicate (the possibilities of) the discipline to policymakers, government officials, and to the broader public. One of the most exciting dimensions of geography is its inherent focus on human-environment and socio-spatial (e.g., local-global) interactions, which are as ever sorely-needed, integrative approaches, that have the potential to answer some of the most pressing questions of our day. And we need to be addressing these questions well beyond the pages of our academic journals; and (4) Examine alternative forms of participation in AAG events. Given our discipline’s efforts to understand and combat climate change and to reduce our own carbon footprint, the AAG should explore digital platforms to enable academic exchange. In addition, as a National Councilor, I would push the organization to examine what role the organization could play in expanding the profile of regional meetings and associations, so that they are better recognized as important loci of intellectual and academic exchange and therefore significantly incentivized for junior scholars and graduate students. In other words, our regional meetings should both be significant sites of exchange, and they should ‘count’ in more important ways for those anticipating going through the promotion and tenure process.   


Hilda Kurtz

HILDA KURTZ. Professor and Head, Department of Geography, University of Georgia; Ph.D in Geography, University of Minnesota (2000); M.A. in Geography, University of Minnesota (1996); B.F.A. in Sculpture, Portland School of Art (1989).

Service to Geography, the AAG and SEDAAG: I have been a member of the AAG since 1994, and a member of SEDAAG since 2003. My active involvement with AAG started with serving as a founding board member of the Qualitative Research Specialty Group (QRSG). I served as a Student Paper Competition Co-organizer and Judge for the QRSG, and later as a co-chair. I was a board member of the Political Geography Specialty Group and a founding board member of the Geographies of Food and Agriculture Specialty Group: Founding Board Member. In addition, I served on the AAG Committee on the Status of Women in Geography and on the Nominating Committee. I have been active in the Southeast Division of the American Association of Geographers, serving on the Honors Committee (2004); Chair of the Best Paper of 2004 Award Committee (2005); Georgia State Representative, (2003-2004); on the Editorial Board of Southeastern Geographer (2004-2006); Secretary (2006-2008); on the Local Arrangements Committee for 2014 Athens GA Meeting, and most recently and substantively, as Co-editor with Deepak Mishra of Southeastern Geographer (2015-2019).

Honors, Awards, Grants:  Research: I have been PI on 5 NSF DDRIs, co-PI on 3 USDA National Institute of Food Agriculture Education Grants, a USDA Southern SARE Grant, and a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Forest Service and received several internal University of Georgia awards including the Global Research Collaboration Grant, Franklin College Diversity Leadership Award, Willson Center Visiting Scholar Award, Faculty Research Grant and Provosts Summer Research Award. Other awards and recognition: SEDAAG Service Award, Franklin College Diversity Leadership Award, Service Learning Fellowship and Senior Service Learning Scholar.

Publications: I have published over 35 journal articles, book chapters, and commentaries, co-edited a journal special issue, and numerous editorial introductions as co-editor of Southeastern Geographer.  My research has been published in the Annals of the American Association of Geographers, Professional Geographer, Geoforum, Gender, Place and Culture, Antipode, Space and Polity, Historical Sociology, and the Journal of Geography and Higher Education, among other outlets.

Research and teaching interests: My research has centered on the geographic dimensions of political practice, with attention to how groups of activists draw on a geographical imagination to strategize for social change. I am interested in how marginalized social actors understand and draw on geographical relationships to argue for inclusion in a diverse and inclusive polity, in formal political and legal arenas, as well as in the arena of public opinion. During my early career, I focused empirically on environmental justice activism, contributing to constructionist scholarship on politics of scale, gendered political contestation, racialization, and norms of citizenship to investigate how EJ activists defend their spaces of life and livelihood while asserting a place of belonging in a broader polity and economy. My research in this vein has been published in leading peer–reviewed journals in the field, including Political Geography, Space and Polity, Gender, Place and Culture, Area, and Antipode.  

My post-tenure research focuses empirically on alternative food activism and food networks. I investigate how marginalized social actors – such as drinkers and producers of raw milk, as well as members of traditional and hyper–localized food networks - contend with food and agricultural regulations that criminalize their practices or price them out of their carefully cultivated food systems and networks. The broad themes parallel those that drew me to EJ research, in that I am still investigating how marginalized social actors defend their spaces and norms. of life and livelihood while asserting a place of belonging in a broader polity and economy.  My work in this vein has been published in the Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Geoforum, Geography Compass. My ongoing interest in understanding how members of marginalized groups fight for inclusion in a diverse polity draws me to focus more specifically on racialization as a key axis of exclusion and marginalization in contemporary U.S. society.

Statement: I am honored to be nominated to serve as a National Councilor of the AAG. If elected, I would commit to focus on two key areas:

Diversity and inclusion in Geography. I would support the AAG’s efforts to foster a more inclusive discipline, by supporting existing efforts at the national level and by exploring ways that the AAG can support diversity and inclusion at the department level. As people from a wider range of social backgrounds find their way to academic geography, the work to create truly inclusive learning and professional environments becomes ever more important. The Healthy Departments and Heads Workshops contribute meaningfully to departmental well-being, and could provide a very useful model for such an initiative.

Public Engagement and Public Impact. We know that geographers address some of the core questions of our times. The broad disciplinary scope of academic geography does not lack for drama, intrigue or general public interest. Nor do we lack for outlets through which to demonstrate the enduring relevance of geographic inquiry. But key debates in society and in policy circles seem to go on without the value of a geographic perspective. I would support efforts to support more robust public visibility and engagement of geographers in the public realm.  Successful efforts in this area would enrich public debate and make the discipline of geography more broadly accessible and interesting to diverse publics. 


Robin Leichenko

ROBIN LEICHENKO. Professor and Chair, Department of Geography, Rutgers University (1997-present). PhD. Geography, 1997, Pennsylvania State University; M.A., Economics, 1995, Pennsylvania State University; M.A., Geography, 1991, University of Colorado-Boulder; B.S., English, 1989, University of Wisconsin. Member of the AAG since 1991.

Service to Geography and the AAG: Honors Committee: chair (2017-2018); member (2015-16); Economic Geography Specialty Group: chair (2015-2016), vice-chair and treasurer (2013-2014); Finance Committee: member (2012-2013); Human Dimensions Specialty Group: board member (2009-2011); American Geographical Society: Councilor (2020-)

Research and Publications: I work at the intersection of economic geography and the social dimensions of climate change. Recent projects explore economic and social vulnerability to climate change in coastal cities and regions and the equity implications of climate change adaptation in cities. I have authored or co-authored three books and more than 50 refereed journal articles. My co-authored book with Karen O’Brien, Environmental Change and Globalization: Double Exposures (Oxford University Press, 2008) received the 2008 Meridian Book Award from the AAG. My latest book, Climate and Society: Transforming the Future (Polity, 2019), also co-authored with Karen O’Brien, is a textbook for undergraduate courses on the social dimensions of climate change.

Teaching: My teaching includes undergraduate courses in research design and methods, climate change and society, and economic geography. Students in my undergraduate research design course are primarily geography majors who are finishing their degrees and beginning their job search or applying for graduate programs. Over the years, I have increasingly tailored this course toward preparing students for entry level jobs and graduate school by emphasizing independent and team-based research skills, collection of primary and secondary data, spatial thinking and analysis, and written and oral communication. A highlight of the course has become our annual “alumni career panel” where I invite recent alumni back to class to talk about their job search process and day-to-day work life, and to offer job search tips and advice. My climate change and economic geography courses draw broad interdisciplinary student audiences that include many individuals who have never taken a geography course. These courses use an integrative “geographic” lens to both explain major contemporary environmental and economic challenges and to empower students to play an active role in identifying transformative responses. I am also deeply involved in graduate student training, especially in the areas of climate change adaptation, resilience, and transformation.

Grants: I have received research funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Norway-Fulbright Foundation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), and a number of other international and local funders.

Statement: In my role on the National Council, I would draw on my experiences as a department chair over the past five years, and on more than 20 years of experience as an educator and researcher working at the intersection of economic geography and climate change. I would be interested in contributing in the following ways:

  1. Continuing and expanding the “Healthy Departments” initiative that was started by past-AAG president Vicky Lawson to further emphasize training of faculty and students in how to foster supportive, healthy, and inclusive departmental communities. This includes a focus on individual and community mental health (as also emphasized by AAG President David Kaplan and by numerous past AAG presidents), and an explicit recognition of the connections between self-care, community well-being, and effective and meaningful teaching, scholarship, and service.
  2. Strengthening linkages, identifying synergies, and fostering collaborations between Geography programs and rapidly growing “geographically-oriented” interdisciplinary programs such as Global Studies and Environmental Studies. These programs can provide opportunities for us to reach to new audiences, and they can be a very effective entry-point for growing our majors and minors.
  3. Increasing training in “active” teaching and scholarship. This includes explicit recognition of our individual and collective capacity to work as geographers to address pressing and urgent societal challenges including rapid climate change, growing economic and social inequality, structural racism, and the resurgence of ethno-nationalism, and religious intolerance.


Joseph R. Oppong

JOSEPH R. OPPONG. Professor, Department of Geography, Academic Associate Dean, Robert Toulouse Graduate School, University of North Texas (UNT). Ph.D. 1992. University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB Canada. M.A. 1986, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB Canada. B.A. 1982. University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana.

Service to AAG. AAG member since 1992. Since then, I have served the AAG as Chair, Medical Geography Specialty Group, 2002-2005; Chair, Africa Specialty Group, 1999-2002; Member of Editorial Board, The Professional Geographer, 2005-2011; Member of Editorial Board, African Geographical Review, 2003-2020; Steering Committee Member and US Representative, International Geographers Union (IGU) Commission on Health and Environment (CHE), 2000-2012; and Organizer of and presenter in numerous AAG sessions and panels.

Other Service. Organizer and Chair of Planning and Local Arrangements Committee, 11th International Medical Geography Symposium, Ramada Plaza Hotel, Fort Worth, TX, 2004-2005. Panelist, National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship, 2014-now. Panelist, NSF, Coupled Natural and Human Systems, 2013. Panelist, NSF Geography and Regional Science Program Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Advisory Panel, 2007-2008. Member, Graduate Education Advisory Committee of Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) 2017-2020. I have also served as Reader/Scorer for the College Board’s Advanced Placement Human Geography exam from June 2007 to present.

Publications: My research focuses on the geography of health and disease. I seek to answer the question of who is getting what disease or health service, where, and why. I have published over 180 articles, book chapters, and books. My publications appear in journals such as the Professional Geographer, African Geographical Review, International Journal of Health Geographics, and Health and Place. I have also published in health journals such as PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases and American Journal of Respiratory Critical Care Medicine.

Awards, Honors and Grants: I have received over $2 million (US) in competitive research grants from several entities (including the NSF, Global Development network, and World Health Organization) plus another million in Congressional Earmark grants by working collaboratively with colleagues across disciplines and multiple universities.

The Africa Specialty Group (ASG) of the AAG recognized my outstanding service to the ASG and AAG by awarding me the Distinguished Service Award in 2010 and the Kwadwo Konadu Agyemang Distinguished Scholar Award in 2013.

Research and Teaching: My research focuses primarily on health and medical geography seeking to understand the spatial patterns of vulnerability, access to health services, and the resulting health outcomes and disease burdens. Beginning with my doctoral dissertation, which applied local-allocation modes to improve geographic access to health services in developing countries, I have conducted extensive research on the spatial patterns of vulnerability to communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and Buruli Ulcer in Africa and Texas. Because my research fuels my teaching, I often publish with my undergrad and graduate students. I lead an active research group, the GIS and Health Research Group, currently comprising of two faculty, 7 doctoral, 7 MS, and several undergrads, that provides an excellent peer-mentoring environment, where students present weekly updates on their ongoing research. My students, including undergrads, routinely publish their research and present at national and regional academic meetings. Under my encouragement and guidance, two of my students applied and received the prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.

I have also invested significantly in facilitating graduate student success in seeking external funding to support their research by providing them with professional development and training workshops. I routinely speak to various junior faculty groups across campus on how to secure external funding to support their scholarship. Pulling from my extensive experience as a grant reviewer for many external funding competitions, I am able to provide them with insights and tips that usually translate into success in securing grants.

Statement: In my current role as academic associate dean of the Robert Toulouse Graduate School, I see firsthand the challenges facing graduate education and the results of ineffective or poor mentoring of graduate students. This has partly contributed to the current crises of graduate students’ mental health, rising loan debt, and poor completion rates. In addition, graduate student research misconduct has become a major concern prompting the major federal funding agencies to require Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training for graduate students working on federal research grants. If elected National Councilor, my focus will be on the following 3 areas:

  1. Creation of Graduate Student Professional Development Workshops to facilitate timely completion, enhance scholarship – including Responsible Conduct of Research and training to seek and obtain extramural funding to support scholarship such as the NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement and other research grants. Such workshops during the annual meetings and, perhaps, at regional meetings will reach many students and fill an important gap.
  2. Improving Graduate Students Mental Health, which is now a global challenge. At the University of North Texas where I work, I have established a successful program that provides group counselling for graduate students. I propose to lead an effort to reckon and address the mental health challenges of AAG graduate students.
  3. Preparing graduate students to secure jobs within and outside of academia. While the AAG offers the Jobs in Geography program that allows students to meet prospective employers, there is an urgent need for continuing workshops that provide training in CV/resume preparation, job interview skills, and networking for both academic and non-academic jobs.
  4. Mentoring Program for New Assistant Professors to help them get tenure. 


Rashad Shabazz

RASHAD SHABAZZ. Associate Professor, Justice and Social Inquiry, School of Social Transformation; Affiliate Faculty, Geography, School of Geographical Sciences, Affiliate Faculty, The Design School Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University. Ph.D., 2008, University of California, Santa Cruz, M.A. 2002, Justices Studies Arizona State University, B.S., 2002, Political Science/Philosophy, Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Service to Geography and AAG: I have been an active member and participant of the AAG since 2008. In addition to being on many panels over the years, I have also served on the AAG diversity taskforce in 2016 and I am an active member in the Black Geographies specialty group. I have served on this group since its inception in 2017. Before that, I was part of group of scholars that held panels to mark out the intellectual terrain of Black geographic thought. I am currently serving as a mentor for Black geographers interested in GIS and physical geography. I am also serving on the sexual harassment taskforce for the AAG, which is charged with the task of writing a statement and policies regarding sexual harassment and assault for all AAG gatherings.

Since entering the discipline in 2008, I have actively advocated for geographic education. I was a faculty member in the department of Geography at The University of Vermont from 2009-2015. There I taught and mentored students in department. I developed the departments human geographic side through creating courses on race, gender, sexuality, cultural production and geography. I also developed the departments first class on theory and geography. As a faculty member I served on numerous department committees, which helped to strengthen the unit. During my tenure at UVM, our undergraduate majors steadily grew. Since 2015, I have been a faculty member in the School of Social Transformation, in the program of Justice and Social Inquiry at Arizona State University. I am the only geographer in the unit and one of two in the school. I have introduced human geography into the curriculum, teaching undergraduate and graduate courses. Last fall I developed and taught a new graduate seminar on Just and Unjust Geographies. This course introduced students to human geography, focusing on how geographers use space, place and mobility as lenses to understand, illuminate, and solve social problems. The students have enjoyed the course so much that several students from the class attended the AAG in Washington D.C. where they delivered papers developed over the course of the semester. I organized the panel titled “Just and Unjust Geographies” for students to present their work. I reconstituted the panel for the 2020 AAG. Returning and new graduate students will present their work on the panel. In the fall of 2018, I became an affiliate faculty member in the Geography program in the School of Geographical Sciences, at ASU. As an affiliate faculty member, I will teach one course per year, advise graduate and undergraduate students, and serve on committees.

I have helped to grow the intellectual field of race geographies in general the Black geographies in particular. As stated, I am part of small group that mapped the intellectual terrain of Black geographies. I have given over thirty presentations on race, blackness, and geography at the AAG since 2008. I co-organized (with Kathrin McKittrick) a 2010 gathering at the AAG in Washington D.C. on race, gender, and geography, which brought two dozen people, many from outside the disciple, to present their work. I lectured on several panels at the 2018 AAG in New Orleans, which focused on Black geographies. I have also been asked to serve as a panelist on three author’s meets critics panels, where I reviewed books on race, gender, sexuality, and geography.

Since 2015 I have served on the editorial board of Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. I have also served on the editorial board for the Annals of the American Association of Geographers since 2016. In addition, I have also reviewed book manuscripts on race, gender, and geography for Temple University Press, The University of Georgia Press, The University of Chicago Press, among others.

Since the fall of 2018, I have served on the anti-harassment taskforce for the AAG. We were changed with understanding how harassment worked at the AAG and creating policy and practices to respond to it.

Research: My academic work has focused on spatializing the study of race and racializing the study of space. My academic expertise brings together human geography, cultural studies, gender studies, and critical prison studies. My research explores how race, gender, power, and culture are informed by geography. My most recent work, Spatializing Blackness, (University of Illinois Press, 2015) examines how carceral power within the geographies of Black Chicagoans shaped urban planning, housing policy, policing practices, gang formation, high incarceration rates, masculinity, and health.

I am currently working on a musical geography of the “Minneapolis Sound.” This single-authored monograph and virtual reality project uncovers the role geography played in the rise to Minneapolis music scene and the music Prince made famous. 

Publications: I have published 16 journal articles, book chapters, and book reviews. My scholarship has appeared in Souls, The Spatial-Justice Journal, ACME, Gender, Place and Culture and Occasions. I have recently published a chapter (City) in the edited volume Keywords in African American Studies (University of California Press, 2018).

Statement: As a member of the national council I would like to continue the work of creating space for people of color, sexual minorities, and women in the discipline. In the years that I’ve been attending the AAG, I have witnessed a change in who attends. More students and faculty of color have been drawn to the meeting. As part of the national council I want continue to bring underrepresented people and ideas into the organization, because these perspectives and ideas will enrich our discipline. In addition to expanding our tent, I think it is important, that we utilize the wealth of knowledge in our organization to influence the public. As scholars we have an obligation to share our work with people outside of academy. If elected to the national council I want to organize a task force to engage with everyday citizens about issues like climate, wealth inequality, racism, and war. Geographers have a lot to say about what is happening in the world and how to make it better.