Association of American Geographers
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Geography and Ethics

Over recent decades there has been a heightened awareness of the importance of ethics in scholarly research and professional practice, not just in geography but across all disciplines.

In seeking to enhance the positive impacts of research, teaching, and service undertaken by geographers, the AAG has been engaged in various discussions and initiatives on ethical issues. These often take geographers into an interdisciplinary arena.


Professional Ethics

The AAG’s Statement on Professional Ethics sets out the wide variety of ethical considerations involved in the conduct of geographic research and analysis, as well as the transmission of geographic theories, concepts, and information, involves.


Current Initiatives

Geospatial Data Confidentiality – The AAG is engaged in an NSF-funded research project looking at the long-standing problems of sharing geospatial data and their visualizations. This includes the ethical issues of protecting the locational privacy and confidentiality of subjects in research using geo-referenced data. Visit the GIScience section to find out more about this project.


Past Initiatives

Graduate Ethics Seminars for Future Geospatial Technology Professionals – The AAG was involved in this initiative funded by the NSF Ethics Education in Science and Engineering program. In collaboration with colleagues from Penn State, Oregon State, and the University of Minnesota, The aim was to develop a model curriculum for graduate seminars that would lead students to recognize and anticipate ethical issues posed by applications of geospatial technologies. Visit the project website or read an article from the AAG Newsletter about the initiative (May 2008, p. 1 & 8).


Useful links

AAG Ethics, Justice, and Human Rights Specialty Group  
This group encourages inclusive and informed discussion throughout the discipline on normative concerns including applied, theoretical, and professional. In equal measure and in combination, to sustain an interest in, and teaching/research on, human rights issues at all scales of analysis, in all parts of the world.