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Geography Speakers Bureau

Background

The Geography Speakers Bureau is an effort by the American Association of Geographers (AAG), building upon and advancing its commitment to public outreach, informed and timely communication, and lending geographic research and education to addressing pressing issues and debates.  The AAG has compiled a list of scholars, teachers and other professionals who are willing to share their expertise and experience not only to other geographers but also to wider academic, scientific, policy, and public audiences. 

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Themes

To reflect the intellectual diversity of the field of geography and to address themes that have recently arisen in importance within political, scientific, and advocacy circles, the AAG Speakers Bureau will begin by structured around three major themes:

  • Social and Spatial Justice
  • Climate and Environmental Change
  • Power of Mapping & Geographic Information

Social and Spatial Justice

The “Social and Spatial Justice” theme capitalizes on several decades of innovative geographic research on social justice.  Geographers have found that social (in)justice has important geographical outcomes and patterns and that space and place play a fundamental role in constituting and structuring the broader processes of discrimination or equality. Recent restrictions on civil and human rights by US federal and state governments and other countries’ authorities make this a highly important theme.   

Climate and Environmental Change

The ”Climate and Environmental Change” themes builds upon the AAG Clearinghouse by the same name and seeks to expose the wider world to the important scholarship and outreach that geographers have done (and continue to do) on the causes, consequences, and mitigation strategies and policy dimensions related to climate change.  Recent efforts by the US government to de-prioritize climate change data and science—even as the global community sees the value of such work—raises the stakes for geographers to be available on this matter. 

Power of Mapping and Geographic Information

The “Power of Mapping and Geographic Information” theme features the many generations of groundbreaking work in the area of mapping, GIS, GPS, remote sensing, and the analysis of geographic information to address some of the world’s most pressing issues. The theme is wide enough to encompass those doing vibrant applied work, developing new techniques and data, as well as theorists who examine the role that mapping and geographic information play as social and political technologies of power, governance, and resistance.  This theme offers a means for geographers to inform larger publics and policy makers about the discipline and its legitimacy in the face of legislative and industry efforts that might suggest otherwise.  

The Speakers Bureau is created with the understanding the identification of themes should be a fluid process that adapts to intellectual changes in the discipline and varying social and political needs and challenges as they arise. 

Eligibility

The Geography Speakers Bureau is open to participants from all sub-fields within geography who are also current members in good standing with the American Association of Geographers. The Speakers Bureau embraces a broad-based approach to studying the social, economic, political, environmental, geospatial, and health/medical dimensions foundations of national and global issues and problems—recognizing that many of these issues require multiple perspectives and paths of analysis.  Geographers are especially well equipped to deliver engaging and informative remarks and presentations that demonstrate the integrative capacity of the discipline.  The AAG envisions the Speakers Bureau as a platform for promoting the public image of the discipline as well as the specific qualifications and insights of the scholar, teacher, and industry professional.  

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Intended Audiences 

The Speakers Bureau seeks to have an impact both inside and outside the Academy. It is hoped that it will assist academic departments, scholarly institutes, and other university programs in locating visiting speakers for colloquia, seminars, conferences, teach-ins, town-gown partnerships, and other educational outreach.  The Speakers Bureau is also committed to informing wider public audiences of the theoretical, empirical, and practical insights that geographers bring to the study of social and spatial justice, climate and environmental change, and the power of mapping of geographic information.  Thus, some participating speakers would be available to engage professional associations and societies, private industry, non-profits and foundations, government agencies, community organizations, and activist initiatives. In some instances, the Speakers Bureau might also be useful to journalists and media outlets in locating experts for interview for a newspaper or magazine story, radio/television/podcast appearance, and the growing number of online blogs and other journalistic and documentary projects.