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AAG Announces Honors Recipients

December 12, 2012

The AAG Honors Committee has selected nine nominees to receive this year’s AAG Honors for outstanding contributions to the advancement or welfare of the geography discipline. Each year, the AAG invites nominations from the membership, which are then presented to the AAG Honors Committee for consideration. The AAG Honors will be conferred at the upcoming AAG Annual Meeting in Los Angeles during a special awards luncheon on Saturday, April 13, 2013.

AAG Lifetime Achievement Honors

In recognition of her significant scholarly contributions to human geography, especially her work on scale and social theory; her extensive service to the discipline, her successful work with graduate students, her many important contributions to journals; and her influence on generations of students through her widely used textbooks; the Association of American Geographers is pleased to confer this year’s Lifetime Achievement Honors on Sallie Marston.

Professor Sallie Marston is best known for her work on scale in human geography, especially her widely cited 2000 article on the social construction of scale and for more recent critiques of scalar thinking. She has also made major contributions to political and social geography, including a sustained scholarly commitment to issues of gender and social reproduction, social justice and citizenship. Her work has demonstrated how state and society and politics and culture interact in particular sites and around particular events and movements. Along with her substantive scholarly contributions, Professor Marston has co-authored multiple editions of two major textbooks on human and world regional geography. In providing a window on the world to thousands of undergraduate students she has made them more aware of the complexities and nuances of globalization, the connections between people, places and nature, and the problems and possibilities for a more just and sustainable world.

Professor Marston has served on the editorial boards of more than a dozen major journals over her career and has assisted the Association of American Geographers as Treasurer, as member of the Finance, Publications and Nominating Committee and on the boards of several specialty groups. Her service to the discipline also includes numerous proposal, panel and tenure reviews, several years as department head at the University of Arizona, and advising a large number of graduate students, many of who are now geography faculty around the world. She is widely known as a dedicated teacher and mentor to both graduate and undergraduate students.

In recognition of her many successful years of service to the discipline, and her important scholarly contributions to work on scale, gender, social reproduction and social justice, the AAG is enormously pleased to award the 2012 AAG Lifetime Achievement honors to Sallie Marston.


Professor Edward W. Soja has transformed human geography and the understanding of cities through his lifetime of work to connect space, society and urbanism. From his earlier work on modernization in Africa to his influential trilogy of books—Postmodern Geographies, Thirdspace and Postmetropolis—Soja’s work has been original, imaginative and influential, reshaping geographic theories and stimulating a critical “spatial turn” in a wide range of disciplines.

Soja has excelled in bringing the insights of critical social theory including political economy, postmodernism, and cultural theory to create innovative analyses of space and society, especially struggles over control of space in the city and the emergence of new forms of urbanization. In his canonical 1980 Annals paper on the Socio-Spatial Dialectic he drew on Lefebvre and other social theorists to argue that society produces, organizes and gives meaning to space but that these spatialities in turn shape society and the relations of production. In arguing for the inseparability and dialectical relationship of history and geography, and of time, space and society, he is one of the champions of the geographic imagination across the social sciences and the humanities. His books, with their breathtaking theoretical interpretations of place, location, landscape, city and region have been grounded in his inquiry into the shaping of space and society in Los Angeles including the rise of the city region, the revival of inner cities, and social movements for the right to the city.

Soja has motivated and provoked students and colleagues through his passion and enthusiasm for theory, criticism, cities, and social justice. His influence in reshaping human geography and urban studies is international, multidisciplinary and enduring through his students at UCLA, his guest lectures, and the translations of his work into many languages. He has been one of the great advocates for geographic ideas across the social sciences and the world.

The AAG is especially pleased to make this award in Los Angeles, the city that has inspired Ed Soja’s research and teaching.

In recognition of his path breaking contributions to geographic theory and urban studies, especially his arguments for the importance of space in understanding society and the city and his insights into postmodernity and the Los Angeles metropolis, the Association of American Geographers is pleased to confer Lifetime Achievement Honors on Edward J. Soja.

2012 AAG Distinguished Scholarship Honors

Judith A. Carney, Professor of Geography at the University of California, Los Angeles, is recognized for the immense originality, profound insights, and exemplary scholarship of her sustained contributions to research in nature-society geography and, in particular, the interdisciplinary fields of political ecology, environment-development studies, and environmental history. Judith is the author of two extraordinarily successful books and scores of outstanding journal articles and book chapters. As a public intellectual her influence extends to extremely broad, non-academic audiences.

Judith’s scholarship is internationally renowned for its foundational contributions and stunning synthesis of the significance of gender relations and struggles in food production, consumption, and resource use in globally important landscapes of Africa, Latin America, and North America. Judith has earned similar widespread success and critical scholarly acclaim in her works revealing the previously unrecognized role of Africans in the historical origins and development of rice agriculture and landscape transformations in Atlantic World. In these works Judith has contributed noteworth analyses and innovative new research avenues in understanding global social-biogeographic histories. Her work is remarkable in forginginsights in postcolonial political ecology using new suites of both traditional and innovative research tools, thereby both contributing to, and inverting, conventional diffusionist explanations of globalization. Judith has gained renown as a synthetic thinkers in modern geography, effectively uniting historiographic and ethnographic field techniques with questions at the cutting edge of social and political theory including feminist studies. The rigor and written clarity of her research scholarship have made Judith Carney one of the discipline’s leading public intellectuals.

The AAG is enormously pleased to bestow upon Judith A. Carney the AAG’s Distinguished Scholarship Honors.

2012 Distinguished Scholarship Honors

Professor John O’Loughlin is an important figure behind the resurgence of political geography that has taken place over the past few decades. Over a career spanning more than 40 years, Professor O’Loughlin has produced an extraordinary body of scholarship in area studies, conflict studies, electoral geography, and geopolitics. He has shaped intellectual agendas in each of these fields, and he has played a crucial role in building bridges among and between them.

Professor O’Loughlin is not just a productive scholar; he is an influential one. In conducting research, he often works closely with international colleagues. His research leadership and drive has led to a body of published work that is recognized around the world for its sophistication, contemporary relevance, and engagement with places where field work is often difficult to undertake. That a senior scholar is willing to take on such challenging work speaks to the drive and discipline that have always been hallmarks of Professor O’Loughlin’s career.

Beyond his own research record, Professor O’Loughlin’s scholarly influence can be seen in the large number of students he has mentored who have gone on to carve out productive careers in geography. His influence is also a product of his long-standing, pioneering editorship of the journal Political Geography. Combining a sustained commitment to quality scholarship with sensitivity to shifting academic trends, Professor O’Loughlin has steered the journal to a position of prominence in the discipline. Moreover, through his work on the journal, Professor O’Loughlin has helped to define the parameters of the subdiscipline for non-geographers interested in the complex relationships between space and power.

In recognition of his path-breaking scholarly contributions in political geography, his extraordinary influence as a teacher and mentor, and his role in cultivating a leading outlet for research in political geography, the Association of American Geographers is pleased to confer Distinguished Scholarship Honors on John O’Loughlin.

Ronald F. Abler Distinguished Service Honors

Dr. Ruth Shirey, Professor Emerita of Geography at Indiana University of Pennsylvania is this year’s recipient of the AAG Ronald F. Abler Distinguished Service Honors Award in recognition of her outstanding efforts in promoting the discipline of geography in elementary, secondary, and postsecondary schools. Dr. Shirey served as the executive director of the National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE) from 1988 to 2002 and as state coordinator for the Pennsylvania Geographic Alliance for 14 years. She was also project administrator for the National Geography Standards Project and participated in the writing of the Pennsylvania state geography standards. Through such efforts, she made substantive and lasting contributions to the field of geographic education, which resulted in her being honored with the Pennsylvania Geographical Society Distinguished Service Award and the George J Miller Award for Distinguished Service from NCGE in 1996. She was also recognized for her service to the Gamma Theta Upsilon International Geography Honor Society and received the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Outstanding Service Award and the Distinguished Alumni Award at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where she was a faculty member and interim associate dean prior to her retirement in 2007. Currently, she serves as Vice-President of the Society of Woman Geographers and serves as Fellowship Chair overseeing SWG’s National Fellowships at UC Berkeley, UCLA, and Penn State and the Pruitt National Dissertation and Minority fellowship programs.

The AAG Ronald F. Abler Distinguished Service Honors Award is presented to Dr. Ruth Shirey in recognition of her extraordinary contributions that have shaped the discipline of geography in elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education. Through her tenures as the executive director of the National Council for Geographic Education and state coordinator for the Pennsylvania Geographic Alliance, along with her many other activities, Dr. Shirey’s innovative ideas, strategic vision, and commitment to geographic education have transformed the place and face of the discipline in K-12 education.

Gilbert Grosvenor Honors for Geographic Education

Gwenda H. Rice, Professor Emerita at Western Oregon University, is awarded this year’s Association of American Geographer’s Gilbert Grosvenor Honors for Geographic Education. Dr. Rice’s many decades of strong and consistent support of geographic education has changed the face of geography education in the state of Oregon. She has also provided leadership for a variety of geographic education projects and initiatives and played leadership roles for geographic education at the national and international levels. For more than three decades, Professor Rice has utilized her experience and dual professional preparation in both Geography and Education to reach a broad audience of K-12 teachers and students, university students, policymakers, and academic colleagues.

Most recently, Professor Rice helped develop, fund, and publish the award-winning Student Atlas of Oregon—an innovative, bi-lingual statewide atlas for use by geography teachers and students in Oregon. In her ongoing co-coordinator position for the Oregon Geographic Alliance, Dr. Rice also has helped create, teach, and direct a long list of annual summer institutes (both on site in Oregon and abroad), develop and publish a manual explaining how to create, fund, and implement a school-based Family Geography Night, and helped guide the development of state Geography standards, curricula, and assessments.

Professor Rice also made a number of important contributions to the NSF-funded Road Map to Geography Education project as a member of the Instructional Materials and Professional Development committee. In addition to this visible national leadership role, Dr. Rice served as President and Vice President for Curriculum and Instruction of the National Council for Geographic Education and provided expertise for the geographic education efforts of the National Geographic Society, National Science Foundation, and the Association of American Geographers.

For her sustained efforts to establish and lead the Oregon Geographic Alliance, her national leadership role in geographic education, and her strong and abiding commitment to developing and implementing best educational practices both inside and outside the classroom, the Association of American Geographers is pleased to award Professor Gwenda Rice the 2013 Gilbert Grosvenor Honors in Geographic Education.

Gilbert White Public Service Honors

Thelma McWilliams Glass, former Professor of Geography at Alabama State University and longtime pioneer in the Civil Rights movement who helped organize the Montgomery Bus boycott, held a master’s degree in geography, and was a geographic educator for more than forty years. Glass was one of the organizers of the Women’s Political Council in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955 that organized a protest against bus segregation in the South following the arrest of Rosa Parks for refusing to surrender her seat on the bus to a white person. This boycott helped bring about the end of racial inequality and the segregation of public transportation in the South. A year after the boycott, Glass was appointed as secretary of the Women’s Council and, in this role, continued to confront the city commissioners with detailed information about bus drivers and the dates of routes where injustices occurred until their restrictive race-based policies ultimately were changed.

Professor Glass also inspired others to work toward equality in the United States by spreading the word about the success of the boycott throughout the community, region, and nation. She served as the last remaining core member of this activist group until her death on July 20, 2012 at age 96. In addition to these many contributions to the Civil Rights movement, Professor Glass was a consummate geographic educator who instilled in her students the desire to learn and to become involved in the fight to bring about social justice in Montgomery, Alabama and other parts of the U.S. South.

In recognition of her many contributions to ending segregation and racial inequality in the United States, her tireless advocacy for policies that enhanced the lives and livelihoods of African Americans, and her many contributions to the teaching and learning of geography, the AAG is honored and pleased to confer upon Thelma McWilliams Glass, the AAG Gilbert White Public Service Honors for 2012.

Distinguished Teaching Honors

Dawn J. Wright is Chief Scientist for ESRI, developing their ocean GIS initiative, as well as Professor of Geosciences at Oregon State University. Dr. Wright views herself as a scientist working within and between the areas of geographic information science, marine science, and ocean informatics. Dawn is a leader in her outreach to the larger community, including her interactions with school children and her interest in encouraging more young women to pursue careers in science. She has been featured in the national media and in Leon Lederman’s Portraits of Great American Scientists.

“Deepsea Dawn” delights in serving as a role model encouraging female and minority students to consider a career in ocean science. She has attracted a large contingent of students to her classes and she has supervised an unusually high number of theses and doctorates. Dawn offers a strong and thoughtful commitment to teaching and mentoring of students. Sh has attended a number of short courses to stay up-to-date with current techniques in the rapidly changing fields of GIS and ocean science, and has applied those to her teaching. She also has served on a multitude of local, regional, national, and international committees in geography and in marine science—experiences that have been communicated to many students. Her professional seagoing experience is remarkable and affords her the opportunity to bring first-hand experience into the classroom, a critical element of successful teaching.

In recognition of her many classroom teaching and mentoring of students in GIS, marine science, and ocean informatics, and her recruitment of young students into geographic sciences, the Association is honored and pleased to confer upon Dawn Wright, the AAG Distinguished Teaching Honors for 2012.

Media Achievement Award

Over the past few years, no academic geographer has used the media more effectively to bring the insights of geographical scholarship to the general public than Professor William G. Moseley. Driven by a desire to raise public awareness of issues ranging from poverty and hunger in Africa, to environmental degradation, to the vulnerabilities of American industrial agriculture, Professor Moseley has written wide ranging, thought-provoking opinion pieces in newspapers ranging from the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune to The Christian Science Monitor and the San Francisco Chronicle. He has also been interviewed on major radio and television stations, including the BBC and the Voice of America. Through his efforts, Professor Moseley has helped many readers and listeners think about the world in a richer, more geographically informed way.

The recent famine in the Horn of Africa and the disintegration of the Malian state led to efforts by Professor Moseley’s to use the media to promote insight and understanding. Professor Moseley’s commentaries were so effective in part because they were rooted in his own scholarship, which has appeared in some of development geography’s most important journals, as well as in journals that reach across academia, including the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Not only does Professor Moseley strive to bring his views to the general public; he encourages his students to do so as well. He believes that scholars, and especially geographers, have an obligation to make their knowledge, experience and insights available to the widest audience possible. His career is a testament to his commitment to this idea.

In recognition of his effective use of the media to raise public understanding of social and environmental issues in Africa and beyond, and his success in fostering awareness of the insights that can come from bringing a geographical perspective to bear on those issues, the Association of American Geographers is pleased to confer on William G. Moseley its 2012 Media Achievement Award.



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