Association of American Geographers
About AAG Membership Annual Meeting Projects & Programs Education Publications Calendar Of Events Jobs & Careers

 Visiting Geographical Scientist Program (VGSP)

Funded by a grant from Gamma Theta Upsilon and Managed by the Association of American Geographers

The Visiting Geographical Scientist Program (VGSP) welcomes applications for the current Geographic Scientist Program Logoacademic year. Funded by Gamma Theta Upsilon (GTU), the International Geographical Honor Society, and managed by the AAG, the VGSP sponsors visits by prominent geographers to colleges and universities across the country. Its purpose is to stimulate interest in geography, especially in small departments that do not have the resources to bring in well-known speakers. Participating institutions select and make arrangements with the visiting geographer. The VGSP covers travel costs and provides a small honorarium; host institutions provide meals and housing.


The Program is Targeted for:

  • Students – to acquaint them with subfields that may not be available in course offerings at their institution, stimulate their interest in geographic research, and familiarize them with career opportunities available to geographers.
  • Faculty members – to encourage geographers in their own subfields of geography, to enrich their knowledge of other subfields, to provide counsel on research and curriculum problems, and to inform non-geographers about current developments in the discipline.
  • Administrative officers – to acquaint them more fully with the nature, content and purpose of geography, assist them in understanding the unique spatial point of view that geography contributes to a liberal education, and provide counsel on the development of staff and curricula.

Program Conditions

To qualify for the program, at least one-half of the institutions hosting a visiting scientist during the academic year must have active chapters of Gamma Theta Upsilon (an active chapter is one that has reported initiates in the past two years). Institutions without a GTU chapter may host a visiting scholar only once. Thereafter, they must have a Gamma Theta Upsilon chapter to be eligible. Two-year colleges which offer a degree or a certificate program in Geography are eligible to form GTU chapters.

The VGSP requires one scientist to visit two or more institutions over a one to three-day period. A single contact at the primary sponsoring institution will coordinate the visits. This contact will work with the visiting scientist, the representatives of the other institution(s), and the VGSP Coordinator in the AAG Office. Participating institutions need to directly contact and schedule visiting scientists, but are welcome to contact the AAG for advice. Speakers for the VGSP are subject to GTU/AAG approval, unless selected from the current VGSP Speakers List.

To encourage visits to smaller departments and programs at smaller, more isolated, institutions, which is the goal of the program, GTU has decided to relax the rules for 2013-2014 to allow small programs in isolated locations to host speakers without requiring co-hosts. We still strongly encourage co-hosts, but in some cases we must be flexible. If you have not applied in the past because you could not find a “local” co-host, please apply now.

Each host institution is responsible for providing the visitor with meals and lodging. GTU will pay an honorarium of $100 per institutional visit to each visiting scientist and will reimburse the visitor up to $600 for travel costs to and from the area of the institutions visited. Visitors will receive their checks from the AAG. Additional travel costs (above the $600 allowance) must be absorbed by the institutions.  

Past experience has demonstrated that the most successful visits have resulted from careful planning of the visitor's agenda without over-scheduling the visitor's time. Institutions should plan to keep formal presentations to a minimum and provide a maximum of opportunities for informal discussions with students and faculty.

Application Instructions

  • Download application form and speakers list here.
  • Organize prospective visit with at least one other institution (arrange tentative dates/times/venues).
  • Contact prospective speaker from VGSP speaker list, or obtain AAG approval for a speaker not on the list (in this case, submit curriculum vitae of speaker to be approved and ensure they are a GTU member), and fix dates.
  • Prepare a schedule of speaker activities while on campus (e.g., featured talk, meeting with student groups/related organizations; meeting with administration)
  • Write a cover letter to address purpose of the talk and its benefit(s) to students and the department; topic(s) speaker will address; description of the student body and department; and how the speaker will be promoted on campus/community.
  • Complete the VGSP application form, a schedule of speaker tour, and a cover letter for submission to the AAG.

Upon approval of application, confirm all arrangements with speaker and co-sponsor(s), including meals and accommodations.  Please allow two weeks from date of application for notification of acceptance.

Back to AAG Grants and Awards