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The AAG Stanley Brunn Award for Creativity in Geography

Deadline for Nominations: September 20, annually 

The AAG Stanley Brunn Award for Creativity in Geography is given annually to an individual geographer or team that has demonstrated originality, creativity, and significant intellectual breakthroughs in geography. The award includes a prize of $1,000. Awardees are chosen by the AAG Executive Committee and are presented at the Awards Luncheon during the AAG's Annual Meeting.

Eligibility: Individual geographers or teams of individuals that include geographer(s) are eligible. The geographer recipient(s) must be a living member of the AAG. Nominations from a wide spectrum of the junior and senior scholars in the geography community are encouraged.

Criteria: The award will be presented to those who have made innovative contributions to the discipline of geography. These contributions may be based on field or laboratory research efforts and methodologies, qualitative or quantitative methods, geographical science and/or technology breakthroughs, work which intersects with the arts or humanities, or conceptual/theoretical breakthroughs in geographic/disciplinary thought that advance our thinking at local or global scales. Most serious consideration will be given to those nominees who have a sustained, impressive and recognized record of creative and cutting-edge work; who have made significant contributions to new geographic methods or ways of thinking, or who have introduced new and meaningful ways of thinking about human/environment relations at local or global scales. Awardees should already be identified for their path breaking initiatives by their peers. Single publications or research products (article, chapter or book), unpublished dissertations, translations of a major work in another language, or niche contributions to a subfield will not be considered sufficient.

Nominations: To make nominations for the AAG Creativity Award, include the complete name and address of the nominee(s), a curriculum vitae or a record of the team's work as a group, and a concise (500 words maximum) yet specific description of the accomplishments that warrant selection according to the above criteria. Up to three supporting letters from other individuals may also be submitted. The deadline for receipt of nominations is September 20.

Submissions: Digital submissions are strongly preferred. Nomination materials that are emailed as a single attachment in an Adobe Acrobat pdf file without password protection are greatly appreciated. Send nominations to with AAG Creativity Award as the subject line. Receipt will be acknowledged within 2 business days or less. Alternately, nominations can be sent to: Association of American Geographers, attn: AAG Creativity Award, 1710 Sixteenth Street NW, Washington, DC 20009-3198.

About the Award: Major creative efforts come from new insights into familiar subject matter or completely new perspectives into emerging disciplinary, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary subject matter. These are not minor and niche contributions, which we are often the contributions one sees in a completed dissertation or journal article. Rather the breakthroughs have some deep conceptual and theoretical underpinnings which, when looked at in hindsight, have generated (or may generate) often completely new ways of looking at human, environment or human/environment relations, all spheres considered part of our disciplinary core. Or they may come from new ways of creating or presenting geographic information.  The kind of intellectual breakthroughs that merit the AAG Creativity Award may include mapping social media, indigenous mapping and PPGIS, devising a schema to define and map planet’s ecological footprints, ad hoc health care and disaster mitigation delivery systems and those who work in the overlapping fields of planetary theology, transboundary ecojustice enforcement, green urban models, language endangerment and evolution, nonvisual geographic learning, geography and human rights, postmodernism and environmental geographies, postcolonial diaspora networked geometries, or global and local diaspora geopolitical networks. In each of these areas, the contribution is characterized by an appearance of new vocabularies, new spatial “twists” to concepts solidly identified with a related field in the humanities, social and physical sciences, and/or the creative incorporation of some new technologies (field, GIS, etc.) and methodologies.

Previous Brunn Award for Creativity Recipients


David Harvey, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology & Geography at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, is one of the most influential figures in geography and urban studies ranking among the most cited intellectuals of all time across the humanitites and social sciences. His work is foundational to the emergence of Marxist and radical geography. His many writings and lectures have introduced Marxism to multiple generations of geographers and established the importance of space and uneven geographical development to the survival of capitalist accumulation for non-geographers. Professor Harvey forcefully demonstrates the highly creative and consequential place that geographers can have in engaging and shaping broader transciplinary discussions and debates. 

Michael Goodchild, Emeritus Professor of Geography at the University of California, Santa Barbara, transformed GIScience from a fledgling field into a credible new science respected by the academic establishment. Not only can Dr. Goodchild be credited with naming the field of Geographic Information Science, but his continuous and creative work has also opened up GIS and spatial analytical methods to many other disciplines. These outstanding contributions stand in addition to Dr. Goodchild's many other notable achievements over the last 45 years including his academic scholarship and prolific publications output, his effectiveness as an educator who inspired thousands of students, and his tireless service to the discipline through journal editing, editorial boards, advisory committees and so on.

Susan Hanson, Professor Emerita at Clark University and Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, was instrumental in introducing feminist theories and gendered analysis to geography, thus creating new modes of interpreting and explaining our everyday worlds. Her work challenged the field of transportation geography by bringing to the fore how difference (gender, class and race) matters in people's mobility, job opportunities, and access to services. She deepened these insights by extending her research into the gendered character of local labor markets, women's entrepreneurship, and the role of networks in enabling and constraining women. Through her writing, teaching and everyday life, she has provided inspiration to several generations of geographers by understanding the importance of integrating familial responsibilities and the caring for others with career aspirations and obligations.

Robert B. (Bob) Kates's work (and indeed his life) has transformed how the community of knowledge pursues a social objective of the sustainability of the systems that we care about at scales from global to local, and it has shaped the activities in both research and practice of a host of people and institutions worldwide who are joining in the pursuit of this elusive goal. From the beginning, as a graduate student at Chicago studying with Gilbert White, the grand query of Robert W. (Bob) Kates was "What is and ought to be the human use of the earth?" Starting with floodplain management, his probing intellect and restless curiosity have led him to focus on three main issues: living with hazard, ending hunger, and sustaining life on Earth. The remarkable focus, quality, and quantity of Bob Kates's scholarly career have earned him recognition unmatched by any other geographer in his generation. For example, in 1975 he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences; in 1981 he was awarded a MacArthur Prize Fellowship; and in 1991 he was awarded the National Medal of Science in a ceremony at the White House in Washington, D.C.

2013Yi-Fu Tuan
Yi-Fu Tuan, Vilas Research Professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. His scholarship has transformed how geographers conceptualize place, not only in ways that have reoriented the discipline, but also in ways that draw considerable attention from non-geographers. Today, his scholarly writings, creative essays, and texts for artistic exhibitions continue to epitomize innovation. His path-breaking has created an intellectual place where generations of cultural geographers have flourished in a variety of new directions. Tuan has pioneered new themes in geography that continue to resonate broadly and deeply across many disciplines and around the world. AAG recognizes him for his foundational scholarship on place and home, and his formative role in the emergence of humanistic geography as a vibrant contemporary field of human geography.