AAG Reaffirms Support for Critical Geography

The American Association of Geographers (AAG) reaffirms its commitment to educational freedom and critical studies that provide full understanding of the forces underlying inequity and discrimination. We support students and instructors at all levels, as well as all instructors who teach from pedagogical perspectives currently under attack. Their work and lives are increasingly constrained and targeted by state-sponsored policies and laws to silence them. Such restrictions on freedom of expression and civil rights cannot be tolerated.

AAG is dedicated to policy principles that support the free and fair functioning of societies, including Protecting Geography through academic freedom and scientific discourse; Protecting People, advocating for geographers whose human rights are infringed on; and Geography for Everyone, which affirms AAG’s duty to ensure that all geographers have equal access to resources, training, meetings, and professional opportunities. We invoke these principles in speaking out against the accelerating challenges to educational freedom and critical studies in the United States. An example of one of many challenges is documented by the Movement Advancement Project. They report that 45 states have introduced an unprecedented total of 580 anti-LGBT2QIA+ bills, including 160 education-focused bills in 2023 alone. The American Civil Liberties Union is closely tracking more than 500 of these bills.

Knowledge, accessible and freely offered, remains the best tool against intolerance and injustice. Whenever state-level actions are taken to suppress civil rights and academic freedom, they threaten the principles of equity, knowledge accessibility, and educational freedom that are the pillars of a healthy society. They also undermine the safety and fundamental human rights of LGBT2QIA+ people and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). Currently, the 160 education-focused suppression bills mentioned above target the teaching of materials associated with critical thought, LGBT2QIA+ lives, and the lives of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).  In addition, university campuses are being subjected to politically motivated leadership shake-ups, the dismantling of diversity programs, and the rewriting of tenure rules that, together, curtail academic freedom.

In January, AAG stated our strong support for diversity education and critical inquiry. We stand in solidarity with all professors, researchers and students in geography and beyond who teach from critical, queer, and anti-racist pedagogy, and who are on the front lines of the battle for understanding and rights. Critical scholarship is a long-established and valued tradition of geographical study, including critical inquiry into relations of power, inequality, and oppression along intersecting axes of race, gender, sexuality, nationality, and class. We call on all AAG members, and particularly department chairs, to uphold equity, human rights, and educational freedom across the breadth of geographic inquiry in their departments.


AAG Policy Principles

Equitable Geography To ensure fair resources and a high quality of life for growing populations, mapping by governments and communities must be done in transparent and inclusive ways. Expert professional geographers help make sure that mapping is equitable and just.

Protecting Geography Academic freedom and scientific discourse are essential components to a just and well-functioning society. Access to information and opportunity must remain open and accessible to all.

Protecting People The AAG will advocate for any geographer facing direct infringement of their fundamental human rights. Geographers are central to understanding and mitigating the effects of the global climate crisis and fixing related injustices.

Preserving the Arc of Geography The AAG seeks to sustain geographers from the beginning of education through retirement by bolstering institutions, advocating for funding, supporting programs, and utilizing assessments.

Geography for Everyone The AAG has a duty to ensure that all geographers have equal access to resources, training, meetings, and professional opportunities. Vigilant support for these principles is essential throughout the discipline. 

The following AAG Specialty and Affinity Groups formally endorsed this statement.

Africa Specialty Group

Applied Geography Specialty Group

Asian Geography Specialty Group

Caribbean Geography Specialty Group

Climate Specialty Group

Community College Affinity Group

Cultural and Political Ecology (CAPE) Specialty Group

Cultural Geography Specialty Group

Development Geographies Specialty Group

Digital Geographies Specialty Group

Economic Geography Specialty Group

Energy and Environment Specialty Group

Ethnic Geography Specialty Group

Feminist Geographies Specialty Group

Filmmaking and Screening Specialty Group

Geographies of Food and Agriculture Specialty Group

Geography of Religions and Belief Systems Specialty Group

Graduate Student Affinity Group

Health and Medical Geography Specialty Group

Historical Geography Specialty Group

Human Dimensions of Global Change Specialty Group

Landscape Specialty Group

Legal Geography Specialty Group

Mental Health in the Academy Affinity Group

Middle East and North Africa Specialty Group

Military Geography Specialty Group

Polar Geography Specialty Group

Political Geography Specialty Group

Protected Areas Specialty Group

Regional Development and Planning Specialty Group

Rural Geography Specialty Group

Stand-Alone Geographers Affinity Group

Transportation Geography Specialty Group

Water Resources Specialty Group

Wine, Beer and Spirits Specialty Group