Association of American Geographers
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Where Faculty Live

The AAG is one of four disciplinary associations participating in the American Council on Education project, “Where Faculty Live: Internationalizing the Disciplines”, funded by the Carnegie Corporation to expand international perspectives in higher education. The ACE project calls for each participating association to develop an internationalization “action plan” and a set of “global learning outcomes” for general education and upper-division courses, with the intent of distributing these resources to their respective members.

To achieve these goals, the AAG conducted a survey of its postsecondary faculty membership to examine patterns of international collaboration and the extent that geographers support an internationalized curriculum. By focusing on the aspects of internationalization most directly related to faculty practice, the goal was to identify some of the key factors affecting faculty decisions to participate in the internationalization process, and thereby provide stakeholders with an empirical basis for formulating internationalization plans.

Over 400 geographers representing all institutional types and major research subfields completed the survey. A detailed analysis of the survey by Michael Solem and Waverly Ray is now available on the AAG website. Their report, Gauging Disciplinary Support for Internationalization: A Survey of Geographers, interprets the diversity of factors affecting the motivations of geography faculty to internationalize research and pedagogy. Among the report’s findings:

  • Nearly 25% of the faculty sample reported having at least one experience with an international collaboration focused on teaching or course development, whereas 57.3% participated in an international collaborative research project. These individuals were motivated by the belief that internationalization creates opportunities for professional and educational enrichment. They also perceived themselves to be highly capable and engaged with international professional networks.
  • Departments and institutions also play a role in the internationalization process, perhaps most importantly by committing resources to create a supportive work environment. Indeed, the faculty in our sample cited a wide range of administrative policies that helped them achieve their internationalization goals. Among the most valued policies were those designed to expand funding for international education and professional development programs, reward faculty for international collaborative work, and implement student and faculty exchange programs.
  • Though overall support for global learning outcomes was high, this support varies considerably when examined through the lens of gender, research subfield, institutional context, and other variables. Human geographers, women, non-native English speakers, and liberal arts faculty were more inclined to support global learning outcomes, especially those outcomes with a strong affective-trait or values component.

The report outlines an action plan that articulates how faculty, departments, and the AAG can work locally and together to enhance internationalization within the discipline. We are also drawing on related research with the AAG’s Online Center for Global Geography Education project to develop educational resources that support global learning outcomes in different geographical subfields. Additional input is being sought from an international advisory committee of geographers, the AAG Council, and AAG members. As this process unfolds, the AAG will continue to support internationalization through its annual meetings, publications, specialty groups, travel grants, and collaborative relationships with international organizations.