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Honors of the Association of American Geographers

Deadline: June 30, yearly

AAG Honors are the highest awards offered by the Association of American Geographers.  They are offered annually to recognize outstanding accomplishments by members in research & scholarship, teaching, education, service to the discipline, public service outside academe and for lifetime achievement.  Although the AAG and its specialty groups make other important awards (see Grants and Awards), AAG Honors remains among the most prestigious awards in American geography and have been awarded since 1951 (see below for complete list).

Categories of AAG Honors: Nominations are invited from: individual AAG members, specialty groups, affinity groups, departments, and other interested parties.  Currently, honors are awarded in several categories, including:

  •  Distinguished Teaching Honors
  • Gilbert F. White Distinguished Public Service Honors
  • Ronald F. Abler Distinguished Service Honors
  • Gilbert Grosvenor Honors for Geographic Education
  • Distinguished Scholarship Honors
  • Lifetime Achievement Honors

The AAG Media Acheivement Award and the AAG Publication Award are also selected by the AAG Honors Committee.

The citations for awardees as are printed in the AAG Newsletter provide an overview of the scope of the awards.  

To make a nomination: Please submit a nominating letter and the candidate's CV to with “AAG Honors” in the subject line to ensure that the message is properly and swiftly processed.  Digital nominations are preferred, and nomination materials that are emailed as a single attachment as an Adobe Acrobat pdf file are greatly appreciated.  Alternatively, nominations may be sent by fax (202-234-2744) or mail to AAG Honors, Association of American Geographers, 1710 Sixteenth Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20009-3198.  Please indicate the category of award for which the nominee should be considered.  Although letters of support are not required for a nomination, most nomination dossiers include 3-5 letters documenting the nominee's contributions to and impact on geography.

The nominations are reviewed by a committee comprised of at least two members who have previously received honors. A final slate of nominees is presented to the AAG Council at its annual Fall meeting.  The names put forward to the Council are accompanied by a statement indicating the contribution which forms the basis of the proposed award.  The final decision for awarding AAG honors rests with the Council.  

Nominations for these awards are solicited in late spring and an announcement in published in the AAG Newsletter, along with electronic distribution to specialty and affinity groups, department chairs, and other interested parties.

In making a nomination, please be aware that under current guidelines:

No more than eight individuals may be awarded AAG Honors in a single year.  However, depending on the pool of nominees, fewer than eight awards are sometimes made.  

Normally only one award is made annually in each category, although more than one is permitted.  However, there is no requirement to make an award in every category if there are insufficient nominations.

Nominees must be AAG members if they are residents of the United States; if they reside elsewhere the membership requirement is waived. In some cases professionals from other disciplines or professions are eligible for consideration.

Previous honorees (see list below) may be nominated for a second AAG honor but, if nominated again, the nomination must be for distinction achieved since their first awards.

The contributions of some nominees may span two or more of the award categories.  In this situation, nominators may suggest more than one category for the award.  The final decision of award category rests, however, with the Council.

AAG Honors are not awarded posthumously unless an honoree dies after the Council has voted on the award.

A nominee can be renominated if the nominee is not awarded AAG Honors in a given year.  Nomination dossiers are not automatically carried forward from year to year.

Committee for 2016 Honors

The AAG Honors Committee is elected by the AAG Membership. The 2016 elected committee is comprised of Rickie Sanders (Chair), Temple University; Ken Foote, University of Connecticut; Christina Dando, University of Nebraska, Omaha; Jennifer Helzer, California State University, Stanislaus; Ann M. Oberhauser, West Virginia University; Julie Cidell, University of Illinois, David A. Lanegran, Macalester College; Robin Leichenko, Rutgers University; and Kendra McSweeney, Ohio State University.


Previous AAG Honors Recipients

(see also listings for the AAG Media Acheivement Award and the AAG Publication Award)


John Paul Jones, III and Bobby Wilson, Lifetime Achievement Honors; Anthony Bebbington and Ruth DeFries, Distinguished Scholarship Honors; Elizabeth Oglesby, Gilbert White Public Service Honors; John Frazier and Rita Gardner, Ronald F. Abler Distinguished Service Honors; Michael Solem, Gilbert Grosvenor Geographic Education Honors


Anne Buttimer and Alexander Murphy, Lifetime Achievement Honors; Meric Gertler and Amy Glasmeier, Distinguished Scholarship Honors; James W. Harrington and Wei Li, Ronald F. Abler Distinguished Service Honors; Darrel Hess, Gilbert Grosvenor Geographic Education Honors Eve Gruntfest, Gilbert White Public Service Honors;


Edward Soja and Sallie Marston, Lifetime Achievement Honors; John O’Loughlin and Judy Carney, Distinguished Scholarship Honors; Gwenda Rice, Gilbert Grosvenor Geographic Education Honors; Ruth Shirey, Ronald F. Abler Distinguished Service Honors; Thelma Glass, Gilbert White Public Service Honors; Dawn Wright, Distinguished Teaching Honors.


Kevin Cox and James C. Knox, Lifetime Achievement Honors; Richard Walker, Distinguished Scholarship Honors; Robert Morrill, Gilbert Grosvenor Honors for Geographic Education; David Unwin, Distinguished Service Honors; Briavel Holcomb, Distinguished Teaching Honors. 


Susan Cutter, Lifetime Achievement Honors; Diana Liverman and Mei-Po Kwan, Distinguished Scholarship Honors; Joseph Stoltman, Gilbert Grosvenor Honors in Geographic Education; Ros Whitehead, Ronald F. Abler Distinguished Service Honors; Philip Pryde, Gilbert F. White Distinguished Public Service Honors.


Ronald J. Johnston, Lifetime Achievement Honors; James S. Duncan and Daniel A. Griffith, Distinguished Scholarship Honors; David A. Lanegran, Gilbert Grosvenor Honors in Geographic Education

John R. Jensen and Audrey Kobayashi, Lifetime Achievement Honors; David F. Ley, Distinguished Scholarship Honors; Donald G. Janelle and Laurence J.C. Ma, Ronald F. Abler Distinguished Service Honors; Donald J. Zeigler, Gilbert Grosvenor Honors in Geographic Education.

Lawrence A Brown, Lifetime Achievement Honors; Paul L. Knox, Distinguished Scholarship Honors; Richard D. Wright, Ronald F. Abler Distinguished Service Honors; Barbara Hildebrant and Alexander B. Murphy, Gilbert Grosvenor Honors for Geographic Education; Michael O. Sutcliffe, Gilbert F. White Distinguished Public Service Honors.

Reginald Golledge and Peirce Lewis, Lifetime Achievement Honors; Nigel Thrift, Distinguished Scholarship Honors; Darrell Napton, Ronald F. Abler Distinguished Service Honors; Sarah Witham Bednarz, Gilbert Grosvenor Honors for Geographic Education.

Christopher "Kit" Salter and H. Jesse Walker, Lifetime Achievement Honors; John Agnew and William E. Doolittle, Distinguished Scholarship Honors; Susan Hardwick and Charles F. "Fritz" Gritzner, Gilbert Grosvenor Honors for Geographic Education.

Joan Clemons and Kenneth E. Foote, Gilbert Grosvenor Honors in Geographic Education; Joni K. Seager, Media Achievement Award; Jennifer Wolch, Distinguished Scholarship Honors; Mark D. Schwartz, Ronald F. Abler Distinguished Service Honors; John Fraser Hart and Allan R. Pred, Lifetime Achievement Honors.

Osa Brand, Gilbert Grosvenor Honors in Geographic Education; Charles F. (Fritz) Gritzner) , Distinguished Teaching Honors; Edward J. Malecki, Distinguished Scholarship Honors; Gordon Matzke, Ronald F. Abler Distinguished Service Honors; Philip W. Porter, Lifetime Achievement Honors.

J. Ronald Eastman, Ronald F. Abler Distinguished Service Honors; Susan Hanson, Lifetime Achievement Honors; James F. Marran, Gilbert Grosvenor Honors in Geographic Education; Richard A. Marston, Ronald F. Abler Distinguished Service Honors; Peter J. Taylor, Distinguished Scholarship Honors; John Western, Distinguished Teaching Honors

Richard G. Boehm, Gilbert Grosvenor Honors for Geographic Education; Malcolm L. Comeaux; Distinguished Teaching Honors; Arthur Getis, Distinguished Scholarship Honors; Janet Kodras, Distinguished Service Honors; Rickie Sanders, Gilbert Grosvenor Honors for Geographic Education; Gilbert F. White, Lifetime Achievement Honors

Ronald E. Beiswanger, Distinguished Teaching Honors; Mildred Berman, Distinguished Service Honors (posthumous); Gary L. Gaile, Distinguished Service Honors; M. Duane Nellis, Gilbert Grosvenor Honors for Geographic Education; Stephen J. Walsh, Distinguished Scholarship Honors

George O. Carney, Distinguished Teaching Honors; Philip J. Gersmehl, Gilbert Grosvenor Honors for Geographic Education; Sidney R. Jumper, Distinguished Service Honors; Janice J. Monk, Lifetime Achievement Honors;Neil Smith, Distinguished Scholarship Honors; Cort Willmott, Distinguished Scholarship Honors

Michael P. Conzen, Distinguished Scholarship Honors; John E. Estes, Lifetime Achievement Honors; Neal Lineback, Distinguished Service Honors; Salvatore J. Natoli, Gilbert Grosvenor Honors for Geographic Education; Eric S. Sheppard, Distinguished Scholarship Honors

Roger M. Downs, Gilbert Grosvenor Honors for Geographic Education; John R. Mather, Lifetime Achievement Honors; Robert W. Marx, Distinguished Service Honors; Gerard Rushton, Distinguished Scholarship Honors; Joseph P. Stoltman, Distinguished Teaching Honors; and Norman J.W. Thrower, Lifetime Achievement Honors

Thomas J. Baerwald, Distinguished Service Honors; James M. Blaut, Distinguished Scholarship Honors; Michael R. Greenberg, Distinguished Scholarship Honors; Melvin G. Marcus, Lifetime Achievement Honors; and Edward T. Price, Distinguished Teaching Honors

Anthony R. de Souza, Gilbert Grosvenor Honors for Geographic Education; Maynard Weston Dow, Distinguished Service Honors; Michael F. Goodchild, Distinguished Scholarship Honors; Maynard and Joan Miller, Distinguished Teaching; and Harold M. Rose, Lifetime Career Honors 


Between 1976 and 1995, all awards were "AAG Honors."  These awards were made for accomplishments in scholarship, teaching, education, and service, but were not labeled by category as they are now (1996 to the present).  The first named category "Gilbert Grosvenor Honors for Geographic Education," was introduced in 1995. 

Ronald F. Abler and Alice C. Andrews, Gilbert Grosvenor Honors for Geographic Education; Michael J. Dear, Fred E. Lukermann, Marvin W. Mikesell, and Billie Lee Turner, II

Stanley D. Brunn, Donald R. Deskins Jr., Robert David Sack, Werner H. Terjung, and Michael J. Watts

Barry C. Bishop, Susan Hanson, Robert G. Jensen, Duane F. Marble, and Norbert P. Psuty

Athol D. Abrahams, A. David Hill, Robert E. Huke, Janice Jones Monk, and Thomas T. Veblen

Denys Brunsden, Harm de Blij, Ronald Johnston, and Roger Kasperson

William L. Graf, James C. Knox, E. Willard Miller, Judy M. Olson, and John N. Rayner

Samuel Newton Dicken, Ronald Leslie Heathcote, Allen G. Noble, James O. Wheeler, and Harold A. Winters

John S. Adams, Daniel J. Boorstin, William P. Cumming, and Philip L. Wagner 

William A. V. Clark, William Denevan, John Brinckerhoff Jackson, Allen J. Scott, and Alan G. Wilson

Roger G. Barry, Anne Buttimer, Owen Lattimore, and Thomas J. Wilbanks

Larry S. Bourne, Kevin R. Cox, Raymond E. Crist, George Hoffman, and David Ward 

Jacqueline Beaujeu-Garnier, Emilio Casetti, John M. Hunter, Gunnar Olsson, and Joseph E. Schwartzberg

Lawrence A. Brown, Geoffrey J. Martin, Risa Ileen Palm, James .T. Parsons, and Ake Sundborg 

James R. Anderson, Roland J. Fuchs, Walter Isard, Terry G. Jordan, Shannon McCune, and Edward .T. Taaffe

Lewis M. Alexander, Richard Chorley, and Reginald G. Golledge

Lewis Mumford, George R. Stewart, David W. Harvey, Harold M. Mayer, and Rhoads Murphey

Saul Bernard Cohen, E. Estyn Evans, Preston E. James, Robert W. Kates, George Kish, Clyde F. Kohn, T. Warren Nystrom, Jarnes E. Vance Jr. and Julian Wolpert

Fred B. Kniffen, A. William Kuchler, and Allan Pred

H. Clifford Darby, John B. Leighly, Peirce F. Lewis, and H. Jesse Walker

John R. Borchert, Chauncy D. Harris, and Leslie J. King 


 Between 1951 and 1975, awards were made in the categories of "Meritorious Contributions" and "Outstanding Achievement."  

Meritorious Contributions: Louis DeVorsey Jr., George H. Dury, and Peter R. Gould Outstanding Achievement: Glenn T. Trewartha

Meritorious Contributions: Kenneth J. Bertrand, Meredith F. Burrill, David S. Simonett, and Paul Wheatley Outstanding Achievement: Gilbert F. White Special Award: Carl O. Sauer

Meritorious Contributions: Peter Haggett, John C. Sherman, and Yi-Fu Tuan Outstanding Achievement: Robert C. West

Meritorious Contributions: H. Homer Aschmann, Evelyn L. Pruitt, and M. Gordon Wolman Outstanding Achievement: Robert E. Dickinson

Meritorious Contributions: Michael F. Dacey, Richard L. Morrill, and Waldo R. Tobler Outstanding Achievement: Reino Ajo

Meritorious Contributions: none Outstanding Achievement: none

Meritorious Contributions: John Fraser Hart, Theodore Shabad, and Leslie Curry Outstanding Achievement: Arch C. Gerlach

Meritorious Contributions: Brian J.L. Berry, Karl W. Butzer, Clarence J. Glacken, and Edwin H. Hammond Outstanding Achievement: Torsten Hagerstrand and Joseph E. Spencer

Meritorious Achievement: Richard E. Harrison, Joseph R. Schwendeman, and Leonard S. Wilson Outstanding Achievement: none

Meritorious Contributions: J. Lewis Robinson, William Von Royen, and Wilbur Zelinsky Outstanding Achievement: Paul A. Siple

Meritorious Contributions: Otto E. Guthe, Leslie Hewes, Donald W. Meinig, and Kirk H. Stone Outstanding Achievement: Herman R. Friis and Harold H. McCarty

Meritorious Contributions: Wilma Fairchild, J. Ross Mackay, and Robert C. West Outstanding Achievement: Walter Christaller

Meritorious Contributions: John B. Jackson, Merle C. Prunty, and Dan Stanislawski Outstanding Achievement: Gilbert H. Grosvenor

Meritorious Contributions: Jean Gottmann, George H.T. Kimble, and Walter M. Kollmorgen Outstanding Achievement: none

Meritorious Contributions: Edward B. Espenshade Jr., F. Kenneth Hare, and William L. Thomas Outstanding Achievement: Charles B. Hitchcock

Meritorious Contributions: William L. Garrison and David Lowenthal Outstanding Achievement: Richard Hartshorne and Richard J. Russell

Meritorious Contributions: William Applebaum, Carleton P. Barnes, Clarence E. Batschelet, and Norton S. Ginsburg Outstanding Achievement: Stephen B. Visher

Meritorious Contributions: George F. Carter, Hildegard B. Johnson, and Edward L. Ullman Outstanding Achievement: Rafael Pico

Meritorious Contributions: none Outstanding Achievement: none

Meritorious Contributions: Victor Roterus and Robert Burnett Hall Outstanding Achievement: John K. Wright

Meritorious Contributions: Henry M. Kendall, Erwin Raisz, and John C. Weaver Outstanding Achievement: Gilbert F. White

Meritorious Contributions: Francis J. Marschner, Raymond E. Murphy, and James Wreford Watson Outstanding Achievement: Homer Leroy Shantz

Meritorious Contributions: Wallace W. Atwood, Jr., Walter M. Kollmorgen, Jacques M. May, and Arthur H. Robinson Outstanding Achievement: Warren C. Thornthwaite  

Meritorious Contributions: Edward A. Ackerman, Lloyd D. Black, George F. Jenks, and Clara E. LeGear Outstanding Achievement: none

The first individual recognized by the Association was Gladys M. Wrigley, who received a Distinguished Achievement Award in 1951.

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