Association of American Geographers
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Geography Faculty Development Alliance

The Early Career workshop is designed for graduate students and faculty who are beginning their careers in higher education—including adjunct instructors, lecturers, assistant professors, and other untenured faculty. 

The Department Leadership workshop is for all geographers interested in improving their programs—particularly, department chairs and heads, associate chairs & heads, academic advisors, or any faculty moving into leadership roles.

With the temporary shift to a virtual online modality, the workshop organizers are rethinking the structure of both events to tap into the different learning engagements afforded by this format and to involve an ever-greater array of our discipline’s talent.

Both workshops feature small group sessions, plenaries, and informal social breaks to support networking and exchange of ideas and perspectives.


Early Career Workshop

The early career workshop is open to graduate students and faculty who are just beginning their careers in higher education—instructors, lecturers, assistant professors, and other untenured faculty. The one-week program is open to faculty from all types of teaching and research institutions inside and outside the US. The workshop, sponsored by the American Association of Geographers, focuses on topics which are frequently the greatest sources of stress in the first years of a faculty appointment, including

  • Developing significant learning experiences for your students
  • Career planning
  • Time management
  • Getting the most out of academic conferences
  • Ethics in research, teaching, and advising
  • Nuts-and-bolts issues about writing and publishing
  • Preparing a CV, job search and interviewing
  • Promoting collegiality
  • Preparing for the tenure process
  • Balancing personal and professional life

The workshop touches on issues of teaching and learning, particularly those revolving around designing effective courses, issues of diversity and inclusion, and active pedagogy. The goal of the workshop is to help participants balance the many responsibilities of academic life and to understand how their teaching, research, service, outreach, and personal lives intersect and interconnect. Most participants have built lasting networks among themselves and with workshop leaders.


Department Leadership Workshop

The Department Leadership Workshop is designed for new and established Department Chairs, Program Heads, new Deans, and other early- to mid-career leaders in Geography, Environmental and Earth Sciences, as well as related disciplines or interdisciplinary programs featuring a spatial focus. The goal of the workshop is for leaders to develop the tools you need to be successful in the execution of your role, to network with others in similar roles around the nation and the globe, and to build the confidence and self-awareness that effective leaders leverage to create alignment, joy and success in their professional world.

Participants will also have an opportunity to meet, learn with, mentor and interact socially with those attending the Geography Faculty Development Alliance (GFDA) Early Career Workshop, scheduled simultaneously and virtually. Most participants have built lasting and fulfilling relationships amongst fellow participants and with workshop facilitators. 

Workshop topics include:

  • Identifying your leadership style
  • Effective storytelling 
  • Building strong teams
  • Strategic planning
  • Managing change
  • Time management
  • Building your leadership skills 

Sessions will be scheduled in the mornings and afternoons, with plenty of time for breaks. We will also host two plenary panels on Women and Leadership in Geography, and Visioning and Leading for an Inclusive Future. Plenaries are broadly open to all who wish to attend.


The Geography Faculty Development Alliance (GFDA) is a long-term, broad-based project to provide early career faculty and advanced doctoral students with the theoretical and practical knowledge needed to excel within the full range of their profession activities—teaching, research, and service-leadership. Key objectives of GFDA are to foster a culture of support and success for early career faculty, to help them understand the fundamental interconnections between their teaching and research, and to advance the scholarship of teaching and learning across the entire discipline. GFDA is also committed to assisting early career professionals in addressing the important issues of diversity & inclusion, public outreach, science advocacy, communication skills, work/life balance, the tenure/promotion process.

This project involves several components: summer workshops including the Early Career Faculty Workshop and the Department Leadership Workshop, follow-up seminars, panel discussions, and paper sessions at the annual meetings of the American Association of Geographers and the National Council for Geographic Education. There is also a longitudinal evaluation and research component to consider the value of the training to early career faculty during the tenure review process. A final component has involved publishing the workshop materials as a stand-alone course for use in graduate geography programs, including the books Aspiring Academics (2009) and Teaching College Geography (2009).

GFDA was founded by Professor Ken Foote of the University of Connecticut with the support of the National Science Foundation and the AAG. 

The Department Leadership Workshop is a part of the Healthy Departments Initiative. First launched by AAG President Vicky Lawson, the goal of the Healthy Departments Initiative is to strengthen leadership skills among geographers. The project has organized a series of workshops and symposia to facilitate sharing of successful strategies for maintaining healthy departments. The Healthy Departments website is intended as a resource to assist leaders by providing practical resources and information that can improve program quality.

AAG's Professional Development Resources

The AAG offers professional development opportunities to members within all career levels. From face-to-face opportunities (mentoring sessions at the annual meeting and specialized summer workshops) to online resources (professional and student opportunities listings, career profiles and salary data), AAG is the source for planning your career in geography.

Below are some of the resources and programs to help you plan your next career move. Explore, learn and sign up for upcoming workshops!

Online Resources