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The Tobin Bridge and the Boston skyline from Malone Park in Chelsea by Robbie Shade; WikiMedia CommonsThe Tobin Bridge and the Boston skyline from Malone Park in Chelsea (Robbie Shade, WikiMedia Commons). 

 

Highlights from the 2017 Annual Meeting in Boston

The American Association of Geographers 2017 Annual Meeting in Boston, Mass., hosted 9,400 geographers, GIS specialists, environmental scientists, and other registrants from around the world sharing the very latest in research, policy, and applications in geography, sustainability, and GIScience. Of those attending, thousands, representing approximately 36 percent of all attendees came from countries other than the U.S.A., which continues a steady trend toward increased international participation at AAG Meetings. 

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This year, attendees came from 90 different countries. The largest participation of scholars from outside of the U.S. came from Canada, the U.K., China, Germany, Australia, France, Netherlands, Sweden, Republic of Korea, Switzerland, Hong Kong, India, Brazil, Belgium, Finland, among many others. The international attendance greatly enriched the intellectual and social events throughout the week-long conference.

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Opening Presidential PlenaryAAG President Glen MacDonald's opening presidential plenary included Laura-Anne Minkoff-Zern, William Moseley, Ruth DeFries and Peter Gleick.

The AAG Annual Meeting also featured several diversely themed research tracks and special events, many with strong international dimensions. The Opening Presidential Plenary organized by AAG President Glen MacDonald, titled Geographies of Bread and Water in the 21st Century in which panelists discussed the challenges to food and water security over the 21st century representing an increasing and potentially existential threat to global society.

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AAG Past President Sarah Witham-Bednarz presented the Presidential Achievement Award to Roger DownsSarah Witham Bednarz presented the Presidential Achievement Award to Roger Downs.

Bednarz's past presidential address Locating Geography Education explored the evolving role, nature, and relevance of geography education as viewed by former presidents of the AAG from 1910 to the present. She also presented this year’s AAG Presidential Achievement Award to Roger Downs, professor of geography at Penn State. She said, "Downs is a scholar, excellent administrator, and guiding light for geographers interested in teaching and learning." Additional distinguished awards, including AAG Honors, were conveyed during the AAG Awards Luncheon on the final day of the conference.

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Atlas Awardee Noam ChomskyNoam Chomsky received the AAG's Atlas Award.

Noam Chomsky’s wide-ranging intellect and impassioned work have long inspired geographers. And his highly-regarded contributions on contemporary topics concerning globalization and the intersections between geography, economics and politics are of great interest to AAG members. The AAG Atlas Award is designed to recognize and celebrate outstanding, internationally-recognized leaders who advance world understanding in exceptional ways. The image of Atlas bearing the weight of the world on his shoulders is a powerful metaphor for this award program, as our nominees are those who have taken the weight of the world on their shoulders and moved it forward, whether in science, politics, scholarship, or the arts. 

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 AAG International ReceptionAAG's International Reception connected friends and colleagues from around the globe.

The 28th annual World Geography Bowl ended with the Great Plains/Rocky Mountains Division team winning first place.

A record number of attendees joined in celebrating the release of The International Encyclopedia of Geography. The reception was an opportunity to see old friends and meet colleagues during the Annual Meeting in Boston. Attendees enjoyed food, drinks, music, and interaction with IEG authors and editors. Flipside provided the lively entertainment that the kept the party going late into the evening. 

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Poster sessions were held during three days of the annual meeting.Poster sessions were held during three days of the annual meeting.

Other themes developed for the Boston meeting were: Mainstreaming Human Rights in Geography and the AAG and Uncertainty and Context in Geography and GIScience. Poster session themes included Human Geography, Physical Geography and Geographic Information Science and Technology (GIS&T).

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AAG Honorary Geographer James HansenAAG Honorary Geographer James Hansen addressed a packed house and talked about climate change.
David HarveyDavid Harvey delivered a featured lecture, "Marx, Capital and the Madness of Economic Reason."

Wide-ranging plenaries and special events included notable speakers, such as 2017 Honorary Geographer James Hansen, as well as Rush Holt, CEO of AAAS. Other sessions included Need for Public Intellectuals in a Trump America: Strategies for Communication, Engagement, and Advocacy with AAG Vice President Derek Alderman from U. of Tennessee, Meg Gilley from COMPASS, Joshua Inwood from Penn State, Sriram Khe from Western Oregon U, William Moseley from Macalester College, Rebecca Maria Torres from U. of Texas—Austin, Joseph Wood from U. of Baltimore and Willie Wright from UNC; The 2016 U.S. Elections: Implications for Geography and Beyond with a panel of past AAG presidents and others; Linking Geographical Science to Policy: Opportunities at the U.S. National Academies of Science with Carol Harden from U. of Tennessee, Anthony Bebbington from Clark U., Nancy Jackson from New Jersey Institute of Technology, William Solecki from Hunter College - CUNY, Marilyn Brown from Georgia Institute of Technology, Michael Jerrett from U. of California and Thomas Baerwald; International Human Rights Priorities: Featured Perspectives with Terry Rockefeller from Amnesty International USA, Antoinette WinklerPrins from Johns Hopkins, Beth Simmons from U. Penn and Jessica Wyndham from AAAS; A New Map of Global Ecological Marine Units (EMUs) - An Environmental Stratification Approach with Roger Sayre from USGS and Esri's Dawn Wright and Charlie Frye; and Coast Guard Challenges in a Dynamic Environment with Coast Guard Rear Admiral Steven Poulin and AAG's John Wertman. Friends and colleagues also gathered to remember Tom Wilbanks, Karl Butzer, Susan Christopherson, Doreen Massey, Stephen White and William Bunge, among others, during several special tributes.

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AAG's second annual mapathonMapathon leaders and participants gathered for a group photo at the culmination of AAG's second annual event.
The AAG held it's second annual three-day Mapathon with 14 sessions, including Secondary Cities: Mapping for Resilience and Sustainability, Map Jams, Mapternoons, and a mapathon at MIT, just to name a few. Using satellite imagery and editing platforms, participants traced, edited, and labeled key infrastructure (buildings, roads, etc.), environmental features and other objects for the creation of openly available real data producing maps that assist humanitarian and community efforts.
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AAG Emerging Scholars ProgramThe AAG Emerging Workforce Scholars Program included a keynote by Massachusetts Secretary of Labor Ronald L. Walker titled, Massachusetts’s Workforce Investment Programs, which ended with a recognition ceremony.

Organized by AAG, the new, unique work-study program, Emerging Workforce Scholars, took place over three days during the annual meeting. The AAG partnered with Boston regional workforce development leaders in the government and nonprofit sectors to identify and engage qualified, aspirational members of underserved communities and address well documented gaps in preparation for job market success. Scholarships were limited to members of Boston area workforce programs and are directly driven by sponsorship support. The program builds on the AAG’s long-term commitment to enhancing diversity in geography and the geosciences and addressing equity and social justice issues.


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The above summary represents only a few of the many exciting sessions and international activities that took place at the 2017 AAG Annual Meeting. More than 1,783 paper, poster, and panel sessions and presentations, including more than 6,804 abstracts highlighting geographic work organized by AAG members and AAG Specialty and Affinity Groups. Field trips, workshops, and a special emphasis on Careers in Geography also greatly enriched the experience of AAG conference participants. Peruse the highlights below and then view the full photo album and video selection.
 

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Noam Chomsky - A Continuing Conversation with Geographers and Atlas AwardNoam Chomsky engaged in a conversational interview with AAG Executive Director Doug Richardson, as he had several times previously.
 
AAG Past President Mona Domosh's discussants were Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Caroline Bressey and Derek AldermanSarah Witham Bednarz speaks during her past president's address, "Locating Geography Education," while Roger Downs and Glen MacDonald listen.
Special session featuring Rush Holt, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS): "Advancing Science in the Public Arena”AAG President Glen MacDonald, AAG's Yonette Thomas, Executive Director Doug Richardson and Rush Holt, CEO of AAAS point out their signatures on the Geographers March for Science banner.
Policy booth areaA special area was set up where attendees could research their public officials and write their own concerns to their congress people.
March for Science bannerDuring the annual meeting, attendees signed the AAG's "Geographers March for Science" banners, which were later carried during the March for Science on Earth Day, April 22.
Derek Alderman's Need for Public Intellectuals in a Trump America: Strategies for Communication, Engagement, and AdvocacyAAG Vice President Derek Alderman talks during his session, "Need for Public Intellectuals in a Trump America: Strategies for Communication, Engagement, and Advocacy."
The 2016 U.S. Elections: Implications for Geography and BeyondThe 2016 U.S. Elections: Implications for Geography and Beyond included AAG Vice President Derek Alderman, Past Presidents Julie Winkler and Sarah Witham Bednarz, President Glen MacDonald, Past Presidents Alexander Murphy and Victoria Lawson and Executive Director Doug Richardson.
Linking Geographical Science to Policy: Opportunities at the U.S. National Academies of ScienceLinking Geographical Science to Policy: Opportunities at the U.S. National Academies of Science included Carol Harden, Anthony Bebbington, Nancy Jackson, William Solecki, Marilyn Brown, Michael Jerrett and Thomas Baerwald.
International Human Rights Priorities: Featured PerspectivesInternational Human Rights Priorities: Featured Perspectives included Antoinette WinklerPrins from Johns Hopkins, Terry Rockefeller from Amnesty International USA, Beth Simmons from U. Penn and Jessica Wyndham from AAAS.
Career Mentoring sessionsAAG career mentoring sessions were scheduled throughout the annual meeting where experienced geography professionals provided small-group consultations about careers in a variety of industries and employment sectors.
AAG Jobs and Careers centerJobs.aag.org and aag.org/studentopportunities are THE sources for geography jobs, grad assistantships and postdoc positions. Many attendees viewed the listings in the careers center. 
Great Plains/Rocky Mountain Division Team takes 2017 World Geography Bowl TitleThe Great Plains/Rocky Mountain Division Team took the 2017 World Geography Bowl title.
Uncertainty and Context Theme Opening PlenaryThe Uncertainty and Context Theme Opening Plenary included Mei-Po Kwan, Michael Goodchild, Tim Schwanen and David Berrigan.
Uncertainty and Context Theme Closing PlenaryThe Uncertainty and Context Theme Closing Plenary included Mei-Po Kwan, Tim Schwanen, Wenzhong Shi, Jamie Pearce and Daniel A. Griffith.
A visitor to the exhibit hall peruses the newly-released International Encyclopedia of Geography books at Wiley's boothAn attendee peruses the newly-released International Encyclopedia of Geography books at Wiley's booth in the exhibit hall
AAG communication center and Policy Snapshot with John WertmanAttendees stopped at the AAG Communications Center to listen to Snapshots. Senior Program Manager for Government Relations John Wertman talked about AAG's ongoing policy actions.
AAG BoothAttendees perused AAG-branded clothing, books and programmatic and communication information in the AAG booth area. There was also a map where folks could note their point of origin. It's a geography thing!
AAG registrationAttendees came from 90 countries to participate during the annual meeting. The lines for the 9,400 registrants moved smoothly and quickly thanks to the help of AAG staff, volunteers and the onsite badge pickup system.
AAG Wilbanks Award for Transformational Research in GeographyFriends, family and colleagues joined to pay tribute to Tom Wilbanks at a special memorial session. The new AAG Wilbanks Award for Transformational Research in Geography was announced and many folks pledged their support towards its funding.
2017 AAG Physical Geography Symposium Keynote Lecture: Human Environmental Interactions and the Legacy of Karl Butzer in the Physical Geography and Beyond 1Many colleauges, friends and family gathered for a special session in remembrance of Karl Butzer, "2017 AAG Physical Geography Symposium Keynote Lecture: Human Environmental Interactions and the Legacy of Karl Butzer in the Physical Geography and Beyond 1."
A New Map of Global Ecological Marine Units (EMUs) - An Environmental Stratification ApproachRoger Sayre introduced the newly-published booklet, A New Map of Global Ecological Marine Units — An Environmental Stratification Approach, during the same-titled session where Esri's Dawn Wright talked about her experiences and Charlie Frye demonstrated the interactive data from the project.
Coast Guard Challenges in a Dynamic Environment with John Wertman and Rear Admiral Steven PoulinAAG's John Wertman introduced Rear Admiral Steven Poulin in the session, "Coast Guard Challenges in a Dynamic Environment."
A geographer in training gives directions to attendeesA geographer in training gives directions to attendees.