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Honorary Geographer

Deadline: September 15, yearly

Every year the AAG designates an individual as that year's AAG Honorary Geographer as a way of recognizing excellence in research, teaching, or writing on geographic topics by non-geographers.

Nominations should include the complete name and address of the nominee and a concise (500 words maximum) yet specific description of the accomplishments that warrant the nominee's selection as an Honorary Geographer. Biographical and bibliographical information not included in the statement should not exceed six additional pages of text.

Nominations: Digital submissions are encouraged. Please submit complete application in an email attachment to with Honorary Geographer as the Subject line. Alternately, nominations can be sent to: Association of American Geographers, attn: Honorary Geographer, 1710 Sixteenth Street NW, Washington, DC 20009-3198.

Honorary Geographers:

2020 Kathryn Sullivan, whose distinguished career includes being the first American woman to walk in space, serving as Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, and NOAA Administrator. The direction in which Sullivan steered Administration and NOAA priority work in the areas of weather and water services, climate science, integrated mapping services and Earth-observing capabilities is immediately recognized and welcomed by geographers. That she also led NOAA with regard to satellites, space weather, water, and ocean observations and forecasts to best serve American communities and businesses resonates powerfully with the AAG. As a woman scientist and role model, Dr. Sullivan mirrors many of the values we also actively pursue in our discipline and our association.


Rita Colwell, University of Maryland College Park, for her distinguished career as the 11th Director of the National Science Foundation, her many important leadership roles in academia, and her many significant advisory positions in the U.S. Government, nonprofit science policy organizations, and private foundations, and in the international scientific research community.



Robert Bullard, Texas Southern University, for the important foundational role that he has played in the study of environmental and transportation justice and the skills he has shown in translating those ideas to policy makers and wider public groups.



James E. Hansen for his leadership and engagement in anthropogenic changes of the atmospheric composition, and for spreading broad awareness of global warming through his Congressional testimony on climate change and by disseminating NASA visualizations of our planet and its changing climate.




Judith Butler for her foundational contributions to feminist and queer theory, cultural studies, and feminist and moral philosophy, which have transformed the ways in which scholars have understood gender and sexual identities.


Peter K. Bol for his leadership role and engagement with the AAG to build university-wide support at Harvard University for geospatial analysis in teaching and research. 


Warren Washington for his contributions as a pioneer in the development of coupled climate models and in recognition of him as a leading scientist in the area of climate variability and change.

Warren Washington


Maya Lin for her impact on the way we look at the world and how we relate to it. AAG is impressed with the influence of her monuments on the world of architecture, and also for the way in which her vision integrates monuments into landscapes in new and dramatic ways. 


Saskia Sassen for her far-reaching impact on the study of globalization and its influence on labor mobiity, global cities, and new technologies, spurring scholars and decision-makers to consider innovative responses to the challenge of sustainable development.


Barry Lopez for his evocative portrayals of people living in close communication with nature, and for his exemplary works of fiction and nonfiction alike that honor and inspire  ideas about geography and landscape.


Nora Volkow for her groundbreaking and innovative work on drug addiction, demonstrating a geographic perspective and attention to geographical context, and for her significant influence on geography research and research agendas in the health sciences.


Paul Krugman 2008 Nobel Laureate in Economics, for his deep and abiding appreciation of a geographic perspective in economics, for his contributions to economic geography, for his exemplary writings that draw from and are inspired by geographic scholarship, and for bringing to bear geographic approaches to international trade theory and strategic trade policy.


Charles Mann for his deep and abiding appreciation of a geographic perspective through his exemplary writings that draw from and are inspired by geographic scholarship.


Jeffrey Sachs for his deep and abiding appreication of a geographic perspective and through his exemplary global leadership in confronting the challenges of economic development, poverty alleviation, globalization, and enivronmental sustainability


Barbara Kingsolver for her deep and abiding appreciation of the importance of place, culture, and the environment in her creative and inspiring writings.


Stephen Pyne for his pioneering and geographically-informed scholarship in the cultural ecology of fire and forest management.


J. Keith Ord for his pioneering work in spatial autocorrelation, in the spatial diffusion of disease, and in the creation of spatially local statistics, and for his collaborations with prominent geographers and co-authorship of prominent texts of major importance to the discipline of geography.


Cynthia Enloe for her deep and abiding appreciation of geographic perspectives in her analyses of state practices and international politics and for her profound influence on feminist and political geography.


John McPhee for his appreciation of the importance of places in fostering understanding of the earth and its natural environments, and for his sensitive exposition of the uses people have made of those places.


John E. Gould for dedicated and effective leadership of the American Geographical Society and for his vigorous efforts to foster appreciation for geography in the wider community.


Calvin Trillin for humorous writing that is sensitive to localities and cultural environments as exemplified in Travels with Alice and other works.


Herman E. Daly for the freshness of insight and depth of critical thought he has brought to research and teaching in economics, ecology, and resource use.


Stephen Jay Gould in recognition of the sensitivity to location, place, and geographical relationships evident in his penetrating and perceptive writing for scientists and the public.


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