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American Association of Geographers Standing Rules

Updated December 2019



These Standing Rules have been documented under the provision of the AAG Bylaws (Section 12), which allows for the creation of a set of guidelines and additional information on the policies concerning the operation and administration of the Association. As such, they intend to provide guidance on procedural matters of business, drawn from past Council resolutions, historical practice, and the current context of ongoing association activities. This document does not represent a comprehensive description of AAG policies or procedures, but rather outlines a number of salient and frequently referenced matters related to how the association conducts its business. The Standing Rules are adopted by the AAG Council. Additions or updates to the Standing Rules appear in the published minutes of the Council as they are adopted. Changes to this document may be made by the AAG Executive Director and/or designee in accordance with future resolutions or policies that Council adopts. For the sake of clarification, it is important to note that the legal structure of the organization provides that exceptions to the Standing Rules may be made in coordination with the Officers (Executive Committee). In case of any contradiction, conflict with, or ambiguity about these Standing Rules, the AAG Constitution, Bylaws, or most recent council resolution on the matter will take precedence (see Compilation of AAG Council Resolutions).


  • Objectives of the Association
  • Council of the Association
  • Directors of the Association
  • Dues
  • Elected Committees
  • Endowment Funds
  • Finance
  • Grants Provided by the AAG
  • Meetings
  • Membership
  • Publications
  • Regional Divisions
  • Seal and Logo of the AAG
  • Specialty and Affinity Groups
  • Standing Committees



(in the order referenced)


Objectives of the Association

The objectives of the Association are to further professional investigations in geography and to encourage the application of geographic findings in education, government, and business.  The Association supports these objectives by promoting acquaintance and discussion among its members and with scholars in related fields by stimulating research and scientific exploration, by encouraging the publication of scholarly studies, and by performing services to aid the advancement of its members and the field of geography.  The Association receives and administers funds in support of research and publication in the field of geography.

Council of the Association

  • The Council shall be the governing body of the Association, establish committees and determine Association policies and procedures; it may assign specific responsibilities to the various officers and committees of the Association. The Council may delegate to officers and to the Executive Director authority to sign contracts.
  • The Council shall appoint an Executive Director. The Executive Director shall manage the affairs of the Association, maintain its Central Office, and serve as an ex officio, non-voting member of all administrative committees and on other committees as Council may approve.
  • The Council appoints Editors, Assistant Editors, Editorial Boards, a Parliamentarian, and standing and ad hoc committees to meet the needs of the Association. (October, 1986).
  • The Council shall periodically monitor project development efforts to ensure that they conform to overall AAG objectives. The Executive Director, acting for Council, shall maintain close relationship with the projects, including liaison with the funding agencies, and shall report to Council on their status.
  • Council has overall responsibility for fiscal affairs of the Association, but as a practical matter delegates the responsibility primarily to the Executive Director working with the Treasurer. The Executive Director is charged with implementing the policies determined by Council and assisting the program and project operations of the Association. 
  • Council approves budgetary guidelines concerning salaries, honoraria, travel and per diem expenses, recognizing, however, that special circumstances may make exceptions necessary.
  • The AAG National Councilors elect a Chair from among the group. In conjunction with the AAG Office, the National Councilors Chair will monitor the activities of the Specialty and Affinity Groups via their reports submitted to the AAG Office at the conclusion of the AAG annual meeting; and report findings to Council at each fall meeting. The report will include whether each group is operating in a responsible effective manner per the guidelines established by the AAG Council. In addition, the Chair helps to maintain continuing liaison with the Groups by attending the annual scheduled meeting of the group chairs.
  • Regional Councilors are charged to coordinate activities between Regional Divisions and Council, attend Division Annual Meetings, and report AAG Council actions and initiatives; act as a liaison between AAG Office and Regional Divisions; attend and participate in AAG Council meetings; be involved in various AAG Council committee responsibilities; attempt to bolster AAG membership at the local level; be involved in the activities of the Executive Council of the local division (varies according to bylaws of the local division); and develop ideas for promoting and maintaining membership in the AAG.
  • Chair selected from among the Regional Division Councilors and National Concilors shall also be members of the Committee on Committees. The Regioanl Divison Councilor Chair chairs the annual Regional Division Chairs meeting at the AAG Annual Meeting.
  • No person who has served as an AAG employee shall be eligible for election to the Council for a period of three years after conclusion of the individual’s employment at the AAG.
  • Council members will be reimbursed for actual expenses incurred up to two days federal per diem for the Spring Council meeting held in conjunction with the AAG Annual Meeting. They will be reimbursed for actual travel and expenses up to federal per diem for attendance at Fall Council Meetings. Expenses incurred on Association or project assignment away from home-base are reimbursed at the U.S. Government per diem rate, calculated on a quarter-day basis, upon submission of appropriate documentation.

Directors of the Association

  • The Executive Director may modify existing publications exchange arrangements as he/she deems appropriate. (April, 1975).
  • The Executive Director or his/her designee is assigned the sole responsibility for responding to requests for help by individuals, departments, colleges or universities that need assistance in resolving problems that are academic or professional in scope. (April, 1979).
  • The Executive Director is an ex officio member of all commissions, committees and task forces.
  • Following Council Guidelines and under the constitutional provision authorizing the Executive Director to manage the AAG office, the Executive Director sets salary levels within limits set by the Council approved budget. Staff salaries should be competitive with similar scholarly societies based in Washington, D.C. The Executive Director appoints supporting staff personnel in the AAG Office. Staff members receive letters of appointment by the Executive Director. The Executive Director oversees the implementation of the AAG Employee Guidelines and supervises the AAG Office Staff.


  • Council may approve no dues increase that exceeds the annual rate of change in the cost of living, regardless of the Association's budgeted expenses, without returning such an increase to the membership for their approval. (April, 1984).
  • Changes in membership dues would be made in dollar increments. (April, 1984).
  • A retirement category membership is available to individuals who have both retired and reached the age of 60 at reduced dues rates to be established by Council. (May, 1974).
  • The Executive Director is granted authority to reduce annual dues by one‑half, in special cases of unemployment with economic hardship.  Cases will be handled individually. (April, 1976).

Elected Committees

Committee on Committees

  • Charge: prepares slates of nominees for the Honors Committee and for the Nominating Committee from which the AAG Council selects those who stand for election by the membership; nominates at least two candidates to fill vacancies on the Association's committees, and as delegates to other organizations; prepares a pool of names from which the executive director selects the Nystrom Award Competition committee. Provide a short biography or rationale for each committee nominee vacancy.
  • Membership: The Committee on Committees shall be composed of the Secretary, Treasurer, Chair of the Regional Councillors, and Chair of the National Councillors. The Secretary of Council shall chair the committee.

Honors Committee

  • Charge: The Honors Committee is charged with the responsibility of receiving and evaluating nominations for national and international interdisciplinary awards and with making recommendations to Council.
  • The AAG keeps up to date information on the full listing of categories of Honors, guidelines, including eligibility, purpose, application instructions, and deadlines in the AAG Office and on the AAG website. Notice of opportunities are published in AAG communication venues such as the newsletter and/or listserves.
  • New Honors categories may be established by the AAG Council.
  • The AAG Office maintains a set of Guidelines for the Honors Committee to utilize that summarizes and clarifies the general procedures, responsibilities, and timeline of the committees activity.
  • All Honors Committee nominees' materials should be placed in the Archives; committee written deliberations should be placed in the Archives with a restriction (25 years) and names of nominees should be passed on to future committees.

Nominating Committee

  • The Nominating Committee shall submit its slate of candidates to the AAG Office at least six weeks before the fall meeting of the Council. It may seek nominations from the membership at-large as well through the AAG Newsletter and/or other communication venues. The membership shall promptly be notified of the committee's nominations and be given a minimum of sixty days to submit nominations by petition. Official ballots shall be mailed to all members at least two months before the annual meeting. These ballots must be returned within forty-five days and be counted by tellers selected from the list of members.
  • Each nominating committee should transmit to its successor the names of individuals nominated and considered by the Nominating Committee. (October, 1988).

Standing Committees

Standing Committee on AAG Disciplinary and Eligibility Matters for AAG Members

The AAG Council hereby resolves that the Standing Committee on AAG Annual Meeting Attendee Disciplinary Matters shall serve as the Standing Committee on Disciplinary and Eligibility Matters for AAG Members and appoints the members of the Executive Committee to serve as the members of the Standing Committee. The Executive Director is an ex officio member of the Standing Committee. 
The Standing Committee is charged with investigating all complaints referred to it by the Executive Director that relate to violations by Association members of the Standing Rules on Professional Conduct, violations of other Association policies or Standing Rules, or that otherwise allege dishonorable, unethical, or unprofessional conduct by an Association member in relation to the Association or its activities, or to the professional role of the Association member. The Committee may also determine that a prospective member who has engaged in conduct in connection with the prospective member’s professional role that is contrary to the values of AAG, as reflected in its policies and Standing Rules, is ineligible for membership, based on a referral from the Executive Director. A determination by the Standing Committee that any such allegation is supported by the evidence shall warrant disciplinary action against a member as determined in the discretion of the Standing Committee, which may include but is not limited to suspension or temporary or permanent revocation of the membership and eligibility for membership in the Association of the subject of the complaint or restrictions on the member’s privileges and rights as a member, including temporary or permanent loss of eligibility to attend future AAG Annual Meetings or to hold leadership or Committee roles with AAG. With respect to prospective members, the Standing Committee may find the prospective member temporarily or permanently ineligible for membership.
The Standing Committee shall establish procedures for review of and decision on such matters that provide to the subject notice of the nature of the allegations and an opportunity to respond in writing. A member or prospective member may appeal to the Council a decision by the Standing Committee to impose a disciplinary revocation of membership or finding of temporary or permanent ineligibility for membership, by notifying the AAG Executive Director in writing within 30 days of being informed of the sanctions by the Standing Committee. If a decision of the Standing Committee is appealed, the Council will review the written record related to the matter and affirm, modify, or reverse the imposition of sanctions based on that review. Additional material that was available to the subject of the sanction but was not submitted to the Standing Committee will not be included in the record on appeal.

Adopted unanimously on November 17, 2019.


Endowment Funds

Endowment funds will be established by resolution of the AAG Council, which shall include specification of the purposes of such fund(s) and how they are to be managed.


  • The AAG manages its funds according to currently accepted accounting practices, including conducting an annual audit. An Accounting Manual is on file at the AAG Office as a set of operational guidelines. The Finance Committee and Council shall review the AAG Investment Policy annually and Council may make adjustments via resolution as necessary.
  • Council shall maintain a policy of fiscal responsibility including increasing income or reducing existing budgeted expenditures before adding or increasing expenditures. This policy is to be enforced by the Treasurer and Executive Director. (April, 1981).
  • AAG shall budget each year adequate funds for the repair and renovation of AAG building(s) and fixed equipment. (April, 1991).
  • An annual administrative fee may be charged for the management of restricted funds at a rate to be set by the AAG Council. (April, 1991; September, 1997). (The AAG currently does not charge an administrative fee on restricted funds.)
  • The Treasurer, having consulted with the Finance Committee and the AAG Executive Director, will present an annual budget for Council review at its Spring meeting.
  • The AAG Finance Committee shall consist of no less than four members of the Association, including the AAG Treasurer, the immediate AAG Past Treasurer, and AAG Executive Director as ex officio members. The Treasurer shall chair the committee.

Grants Provided by the AAG

  • The AAG office keeps current records of funds established for the purpose of AAG Grants, including the categories of grants available for research, dissertation, travel, or other purposes. The AAG also keeps up to date information on the balances and payments made from those funds. A listing of AAG grant guidelines, including eligibility, purpose, application instructions, and deadlines are maintained in the AAG Office and on the AAG website. Notices of opportunities are published in AAG communication venues such as the newsletter and/or listserves.
  • AAG Standing Committees are appointed to review the submissions for particular grant programs as indicated in the respective charge of those committees given by the AAG Council. No awards are made if funds are insufficient or if proposals are not suitable for a particular AAG grant program.
  • New AAG grant programs are established by the Executive Director and/or the AAG Council, as donations for such purposes are given.


Annual Meeting Papers and Presentations

  • No prior screening of annual meeting papers and presentations will be required (April, 1976).
  • The call for program participation and the preliminary program should direct participants unable to give their presentations to inform the session chair and to write the AAG Conference Director to explain the absence (October, 1982).
  • AAG Annual Meeting participants are limited to a total of two public presentations at the meeting: a maximum of one paper or poster and one role as a panelist, or two roles as panelist if they do not present a paper or poster. Exemptions can be made for individuals in official capacity. (November, 2008).
  • All individuals presenting papers or posters will submit an abstract as instructed in the Call for Program Participation. The abstract must state the purpose, methods, and conclusions of the presentation in a maximum number of words as indicated in the call. All abstracts will be available before the annual meeting (October, 1986).
  • In regular paper sessions, speakers will be allowed twenty minutes per paper, with the proviso that presentation be restricted to fifteen minutes and that five minutes be explicitly reserved for discussion of the paper just presented. Five papers should be scheduled in each one hundred minute (regular) paper session (April, 1993).
  • AAG will budget funds each year to be made available on a competitive basis to underwrite the expenses of non-geographers invited to appear in plenary-like sessions. A committee will receive and review proposals for the funds and allocate them among the applicants (March, 1995).

Annual Meeting Field Trips

  • The number, frequency, capacities, times, and fees for annual meeting field trips shall be determined by consensus among the AAG Conference Director, the local support committee chair, and the field trip coordinator.  The AAG may cancel a field trip in the event a significant financial loss is likely. (October, 1982).
  • Field trips organized by specialty groups will be scheduled by the field trip coordinator. Any income generated will accrue to the Association (October, 1982).
  • In keeping with the AAG effort to promote the fair and equal treatment of members, field trips organized by AAG members or specialty groups at the annual meeting will, as a rule, be open to all members. In instances where a member or specialty group wishes to organize a field trip that explicitly excludes any group of AAG members, the organizer will petition the AAG Council for an exception to this policy by the date when field trip proposals are due. If Council grants the exception, notice will be given in the AAG Newsletter, along with an explanation of the reason for the exception. The substance of this resolution shall be included in the annual call for field trip proposals that appears in the AAG Newsletter.

Registration Fees

  • No complimentary annual meeting registrations will be granted (October, 1990).
  • No registration fee will be charged to non‑attending co‑authors of paper or poster presentations (May, 1986).
  • The Association will pay annual meeting registration fees for fifty-year members recognized at the meeting.


  • The AAG Annual Meeting will be held in Canada only at the invitation of the Canadian Association of Geographers and a Canadian university geography department (August, 1989).
  • The AAG shall henceforth avoid scheduling its annual meetings on major religious holidays (April, 1992).
  • Accessibility. In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the AAG and its contracted facilities hotel's management make reasonable accommodations to the extent possible when they are requested. Individuals requiring such accommodations are asked to make their needs known to the AAG and the hotel's management as early as possible so they can make every effort to provide the requested accommodations.
  • Professional Conduct. Professional ideas and information are exchanged most effectively at the AAG's Annual Meeting in an atmosphere free of abuse or harassment and characterized by courtesy and respect. To that end, the AAG expects all individuals who attend to conduct themselves in a manner which establishes an atmosphere free from discriminatory practices and sexual harassment. The contents of annual meeting presentations by individuals or groups at the annual meeting are theirs alone. The American Association of Geographers neither endorses nor disclaims the conclusions, interpretations, or opinions expressed by speakers at its annual meeting.
  • Union Hotels. Once the site for the annual meeting is chosen, the AAG will actively solicit and give preference to a suitable unionized hotel in cities selected for the AAG annual meeting. If on review, the AAG Executive Committee concludes that cost or other considerations indicate that a non-union hotel should be used in a city with a union hotel option, then the Executive Committee should detail the rationale for its choice to the Council and at the AAG business meeting. The AAG will continue to negotiate, and if possible strengthen, existing force majeure language in AAG annual meeting hotel contracts. (April, 2005).


Associate Members

  • Eligible prospective members may join the AAG under its Associate Membership Programs, which include the CAG (Canadian Association of Geographers) Reciprocal Membership Program, the IBG (Institute of British Geographers) Reciprocal Membership Program, the IGA (Israeli Geographical Association) Reciprocal Membership Program, and the DRP (AAG Developing Regions Membership Program). No individual residing in the U.S. is eligible for Associate Membership through these programs.
  • Associate Members are not eligible to vote in National Elections and are not eligible to hold National AAG Office.

Mailing Lists

  • The AAG sells mailing labels/lists with members’ names and addresses to firms wishing to announce scholarly materials and other goods and services deemed appropriate to the purposes of the Association. The Executive Director decides whether to sell the list or to withhold it. Members may opt to delete their names from mailing lists that are sold. (October, 1982).

Publications of Association

  • The AAG publishes the Annals of the Association of American Geographers and The Professional Geographer. The operations of the publication of these journals conform to the most current publishing agreement, on file at the AAG Office. Other operational guidelines are also outlined in the AAG Publications Manual.
  • The AAG Office is responsible for publishing the AAG Newsletter, Jobs in Geography (incorporated as part of the AAG Newsletter since 1971), AAG Guide to Programs of Geography in the Americas /AAG Directory of Geographers, and other occasional items, such as Careers in Geography, or other publications.
  • It is the responsibility of the AAG Executive Director and/or his/her designate to supervise the production and distribution of AAG Office publications, to propose an annual budget to the Finance Committee for funding these publications, and to communicate with the Chair of the AAG Publications Committee regarding accomplishments, problems that require resolution, and plans for the coming years.
  • The AAG Publications Committee is charged with assessing the needs and effectiveness of the AAG Office publications program, reviewing suggestions and proposals for enhancing its service to the AAG membership, reviewing questions that relate to content, format and frequency of publication, and referring related policy issues to the AAG Council.

Regional Divisions

  • The AAG Council suggests to the Regional Divisions that Regional Councillors be made ex-officio members of the Divisions’ Executive Committees. (October, 1973).
  • AAG Regional Division Councillors must be elected during the Fall or otherwise well before their council terms take effect on July 1st annually.
  • Annual meetings of the Regional Division of the AAG are an important means of communication between the members of the Association and the council. Regional and National Councillors are expected to attend their regional meetings, and the president will offer his/her assistance in arranging the attendance of a national officer as well. (April, 1978).

Seal and Logo of the AAG

Use of the AAG seal and/or logo by regional and specialty group publications requires Council approval. (April, 1978).

Specialty and Affinity Groups

  • Specialty and Affinity Groups must comply with particular financial and legal procedures as required for the association’s auditing needs. The most current information on these procedures can be found in the latest AAG Specialty and Affinity Group Handbook, which is provided to Chairs and posted online.  This handbook will be maintained on the AAG website by the AAG office and thus is provided to Chairs and officers for their reference, who bear responsibility for its implementation.
  • The AAG Council establishes policy and implements procedures for the formation, functioning, and decommissioning of AAG Groups, as documented in the history of resolutions of the council. This is also outlined in the AAG Specialty and Affinity Group Handbook.

Standing Committees

  • The AAG Executive Committee reviews all standing committees and task forces and presents recommendations to Council to continue, eliminate or assign additional tasks to committees/task forces. (October, 1986).
  • All Standing Committees shall coordinate with the Executive Director or a designee at least once per year to establish current priorities for the Committee and to coordinate committee activities with ongoing AAG activities and programs. (April, 2007).
  • Current practice holds that committees may have an interim chair appointed by the Committee on Committees, but are ultimately free to select their own permanent Chairs.
  • The chair of each committee shall submit to Council an annual report of committee activities.
  • Committee membership normally will be for a three year term. As committees are established members are to be appointed on a one, two, and three year term basis to provide continuity of membership and orderly rotation.  An individual may be reappointed.
  • At least one AAG Councillor will be appointed to each standing committee. (April, 1986).
  • The following committees will be chaired by an AAG Councillor: Committee on Committees (Secretary), Finance (Treasurer), and Publications.
  • All committee vacancies should be advertised in the AAG Newsletter and/or other communication venues annually before the Council meeting at which those vacancies are to be filled and applications should be solicited from interested members. (April, 1981).
  • Committee membership is indefinite in the Jackson Prize Committee, and any necessary replacements will be named by the committee itself.
  • Persons appointed to AAG Committees, Review Boards, and as Delegates, and Elected Officers and Councillors should be members of the AAG.