The Future of Physical Geography

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‘Earth Interactions’ Journal Undergoes Recent Changes

Since 1997 the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the American Meteorological Society (AMS) and the Association of American Geographers (AAG) have jointly published Earth Interactions, an electronic journal focusing on the interactions between the lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere in the context of global issues or global change. Earth Interactions has recently undergone several significant changes. Beginning in January 2014, the AMS has taken on all editorial responsibilities, from submission through publication, although the journal continues to be a joint publication of all three organizations. Additionally, Earth Interactions is now a fully open access journal, available free of charge to all readers.

Earth Interactions is a peer-reviewed, highly interdisciplinary journal that accepts original research articles, review articles, brief “data reports” and “model reports,” and special collections of papers from conferences and workshops. Submissions from  interdisciplinary research teams are encouraged, especially those that involve scientists and practitioners from the disciplines represented by AAG, AGU, and AMS. Earth Interactions is a unique publishing venue as it exploits the capabilities of electronic communications technology. In particular, it provides authors with the opportunity to use animations and other visualization techniques that traditional publications typically cannot accommodate.

To cover the publication expenses of this open access journal, there is a flat author fee for all papers accepted for publication. Partial or full waivers of the author fee are available for those with no (or extremely limited) funding. More information about Earth Interactions can be obtained from the journal website (http://journals.ametsoc.org/loi/eint) or by contacting Rezaul Mahmood, Editor, Department of Geography and Geology, Western Kentucky University, rezaul [dot] mahmood [at] wku [dot] edu.

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Women in Academia: It’s Not Just About Numbers

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What’s in a Name? The Renaming and Rebranding of Geography Departments

Winkler_JulieIn a recent issue of the Observer magazine, author Eric Jaffe explored the nature and rationale of recent changes in the names of prominent U.S. psychology departments. Jaffe interviewed faculty and administrators from several universities that had changed the departmental name from Psychology to alternative nomenclatures including Psychological SciencesPsychological and Brain SciencesPsychology and Neuroscience, and Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Sciences. Some of these name changes reflect the merger of two or more departments, but others were an attempt to rebrand a department and, more generally, the discipline of psychology. For some, the rationale was to portray psychology “as a science, not an art,” whereas for others the motivation was to draw attention to new focus areas and approaches within psychological research.

Does this sound familiar? It sure does to me. A cursory comparison of current geography department listings to those of previous years suggests a recent uptick in the number of departments that have undergone name changes. Some of the more recent renamings share similarities with the name changes seen for psychology, such as Geographical Sciences, Geography and Environmental Sustainability, and Geography, Environment and Society. Also, similar to psychology, some of the name changes were mandated by departmental mergers, but others are a rebranding, intended to portray a geography department in a different light, emphasize new disciplinary developments, convey modernity and relevance, capture new audiences, and/or become more broadly appealing to graduate and undergraduate students (and their parents).

Given the broader implications of these changes for the discipline of geography, the AAG Council chose to use the “challenge question” portion of their meeting earlier this month for an open-ended discussion of the long-term benefits and consequences of renaming and rebranding geography departments. The discussion was insightful and fascinating, and the experiences of the Council members varied widely. This column conveys my impressions of that discussion with the goal to initiate broader dialog and information sharing. One message that I took away from the Council discussion is that, although the contextual and political settings in which these decisions are being made varies markedly from one university to the next, there are sufficiently common circumstances that a greater sharing of experiences would benefit those geography departments considering renaming and rebranding.

A common theme from the discussion was that the decision to rename a department cannot be taken lightly, and the motivations for such a change need to carefully examined and thoroughly debated. Many of us may be reluctant to consider a departmental name change, in part because of what one Council member referred to as the “heart tug” of the name Geography. But, depending on the context, there can be compelling reasons for renaming and/or rebranding, and for some departments, especially those involved in a merger, renaming is inevitable. It is critical that departments ask: “Who are the audiences for the renaming/rebranding?” and “Is renaming/rebranding the most effective means for reaching those audiences?” For some departments, other approaches may be as effective, or at least merit consideration. These might include additional undergraduate degree options, greater external publicity of geography as a discipline and internal publicity of the skills and accomplishments of geography faculty, and additional resources or a reallocation of current resources to ensure that geography faculty are as productive and as highly regarded as faculty from other departments. But for other departments, these measures may not be sufficient or some may not be possible within the university structure, and renaming and rebranding may help ensure that these departments are able to “survive and thrive.”

Timeliness can be important. A repeated message in the marketing literature on renaming and rebranding companies is “don’t procrastinate.” Along those lines, one councillor observed that name changes that originate organically from within a department are likely to be more creative and effective than those that are imposed from higher administration. Consequently, it can be to a department’s advantage to take the initiative on making the difficult decision of whether to rename and/or rebrand. Also, geography is not the only discipline currently undergoing departmental name changes, but rather this is occurring across academia. Consequently, there likely will be competition with other departments on campus for ownership of relevant descriptors (e.g., environment, sustainability, global, geospatial) and/or areas in which geography departments would like to expand. Thus, it behooves us to carefully monitor higher administration’s assessment and expectations of our departments along with developments in other departments, so that we can be proactive rather than reactive. Student input can also be extremely helpful when considering a name change.

A name is more than the sum of its parts and needs to be selected carefully, particularly as it can benefit or disadvantage some subgroups. Often departments, especially merged departments composed of several disciplines, seek integrative names such as Geosciences or Environmental Sciences. However, these particular examples of departmental names can disadvantage the humanities and social science components of geography, such as critical human geography, especially if university administrators and others on campus perceive the department as focusing primarily on the physical environment rather than also on the built environment or the social and political environment. One departmental chair shared with their regional councillor that an interpretation of “environment” as only the physical environment can skew the local perception of geography with potentially negative consequences on hiring and teaching decisions. Similarly, a departmental name such as Global Studies, or even Environmental Studies, can disadvantage physical geography, particularly if the term “studies” is construed as less scientific than the use of the term “sciences.” Keeping “geography” as part of the departmental name can have a number of advantages, as it portrays a more holistic view of geography. It also provides an obvious linkage to the department’s past and to its alumni, and is respectful to those who helped to pioneer the department. Explicitly including “geography” in the departmental name can also provide long-term stability, as geography is an evolving discipline and the other components of the department’s name may change with time as new subfields and interests develop.

Some councillors raised the concern that the renaming and rebranding of departments has the potential to dilute geography’s identity. For example, renaming a department is often accompanied by new or modified degree offerings, and one concern is whether majors will migrate from geography to the other degree options and how resources will be allocated among the different degrees. Also, capturing and communicating geography’s strengths in GIScience can be particularly challenging for geography departments, especially if other departments on campus add terms such as “geospatial” to their names. While geography departments need to strive to be the primary on-campus source of GIScience education and research, they need to be cognizant that students also come to geography for other reasons and that a narrow focus on GIScience can de-emphasize geography as a discipline.

I admit to a particular fascination with this topic of renaming and rebranding geography departments. The position to which I was hired was offered by higher administration as a “carrot” to the geography department to agree to a merger with two other departments, and the heated debates in those early faculty meetings on the name of the merged department are etched into my memory. My impression is that the discipline is now more accepting of renaming and rebranding than in the early days of my career. But at the same time, we need to focus on how to use renaming and rebranding to our advantage, while minimizing potential negatives. Thus, we need to share experiences. We also need to be critical and closely monitor the long-term impacts of departmental name changes on the discipline. And let’s not forget that renaming/rebranding is not a substitute for high quality, high impact geographic teaching and research that makes a difference to students and stakeholders.

My thanks to the members of the AAG Council for the very thought-provoking conversation. I hope that I accurately conveyed their thoughts and remarks in stimulating further discussion of this issue.

Julie Winkler

[The reference to Eric Jaffe’s article is “Identity Shift”, Observer, Association for Psychological Science, 2011, available at http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/publications/observer/2011/september-11/identity-shift.html.]

DOI: 10.14433/2014.0006

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Why We Join the AAG

Winkler_JulieIn just a few days, many of us will be in Tampa for the AAG annual meeting. We will be beneficiaries of the months of intense effort by the AAG central office to plan for, and execute, a seamless meeting for thousands of attendees. At the same time, each of us will contribute to the success of this meeting, and to the AAG more broadly, through our scholarly presentations and dialog, and also through our volunteer activities. The latter includes participation in AAG specialty groups and our service on the numerous AAG standing committees and editorial boards, many of which will be meeting in Tampa. I would like to explore in this column our position as both beneficiaries of, and contributors to, the AAG and the reasons why we should be AAG members.

In my July column, I focused on the newly-initiated AAG long-range planning effort and the challenges currently facing scholarly societies. I referenced several recent surveys of what individuals expect from their membership in a scholarly society. In response to that column, my colleague Judy Olson, a past president of the AAG, shared with me a conversation she had a number of years earlier with Susan Hanson, another AAG past president, on the rationale for membership in scholarly societies. Susan had argued that a scholarly society is an important component of the infrastructure of a discipline, and that scholarly societies represent and promote a discipline in ways not possible by individuals alone. Thus, we should join scholarly societies to support our discipline, not necessarily to meet our individual needs. To quote Judy, “it is not just about what the member personally gets out of their membership, but what the member is supporting.” As we prepare for the excitement of the annual meeting, this is an opportune time for each of us to take stock and ask ourselves: Do I view my membership in the AAG as primarily supporting the discipline of geography or as a professional development opportunity for myself? Am I willing to continue participating in the AAG even if future personal benefits may appear to be modest due to changing career circumstances or life stage?

One reason that some geographers may not see the AAG as part of the infrastructure of our discipline, or comprehend their responsibility in supporting this infrastructure, is that they simply are not familiar with the many activities and initiatives of the AAG. One advantage of serving in AAG governance over the past two years is that I have been able to interact with most of the AAG staff and learn more about their roles and contributions. I have been very impressed. The AAG staff are consummate professionals, who approach their jobs with creativity and dedication, and who have achieved considerable success. For example, the AAG’s education program compares favorably with those of other professional societies. The AAG staff in this area have garnered considerable external funding to support their efforts and have worked cooperatively with geographers from the U.S. and internationally to develop innovative K-12 and university-level educational materials and workshops. The AAG has also developed numerous initiatives to increase the participation of underrepresented groups within the discipline, and sponsors workshops for new faculty and department chairs to help ensure the ongoing strength and visibility of our disciple and maintenance of “healthy” departments. Innumerable geography students and young professionals have taken advantage of the AAG Jobs & Careers Center, which in turn benefits the discipline as a whole. The AAG has recently expanded its public policy outreach and has been actively engaged in efforts to reduce threats to federal funding for the social sciences and to promote funding for K-12 education, including the promotion of a AAG resolution on the advancement of geography education that has been endorsed by U.S. Secretaries of State and Defense, many governors, and others. The AAG also expertly represents the discipline of geography in the complex and ongoing discussions of GIS accreditation and certification. The AAG seeks to promote the importance of geographic thought, theory, and practice to other disciplines and federal agencies, and only last month was invited to provide a presentation and webinar on the role of geography and GIScience in health research to program officers at the National Institutes of Health. All the while, the AAG continues to play a major role in communicating geographic research, organizing the largest professional meeting of geographers worldwide, and publishing leading journals in the discipline.

As we acknowledge the many accomplishments of the AAG staff, we also need to keep in mind that, no matter how great the staff, the AAG is in essence a volunteer organization, and we, as AAG members, need to step up to this responsibility. I have had the opportunity to observe truly remarkable contributions by members in support of the Association, but many members remain relatively uninvolved. The continued success of the Association requires that we all acknowledge our responsibilities and not just rely on the AAG staff to provide the services we expect or demand from a scholarly society. We, too, need to work to strengthen the organization, and must lend our insights and creativity to the Association. If there are aspects of the AAG that we feel need improvement, rather than only critiquing, we are responsible for identifying alternative approaches, carefully weighing their strengths and limitations, and working with AAG governance and staff in a professional and constructive manner to make change happen. Also, dedicated service, whatever the form that takes and even though time consuming, should be an expectation of all members. Furthermore, as members, we in effect “own” the Association, and as responsible owners we must keep abreast of the activities and new developments of the AAG, and also the challenges that the AAG, like any scholarly society, faces.

While in Tampa, I encourage you to seek out the AAG staff and personally thank them for their exceptional service to our scholarly society. I also encourage you to participate in the several sessions on the future of geography and the AAG including the session titled “Conversation on the Future of Physical Geography,” and the special session on the AAG’s Long Range Plan (see the meeting program for dates and times). Also, seek out members of the AAG Council, standing committees, and specialty group board of directors and share with them what you think is going well and what might be improved. And look around the meeting and consider how you might become more involved in the AAG, how you can become an “owner.”

Again quoting Judy Olson, “We believe in what our organizations represent out in the wider world, not just in our own little sphere. That’s the number one reason to be part of our professional organizations.”

Enjoy Tampa!

Julie Winkler

DOI: 10.14433/2014.0005

 

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The Challenge of Giving Credit Where Credit is Due: “Who’s on First?”

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University Research Centers: An Opportunity or Challenge for Geography?

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Climate Variability and Change: Embracing Complexity and Uncertainty

Julie WinklerLast spring, at a listening session I attended on climate variability and change in northwestern Michigan, a local fruit grower summarized his concerns with the analogy that his industry is the “canary in the coal mine” for the potential impacts of climate variability and change on agriculture. This statement was motivated by the sensitivity of fruit production to climate extremes, particularly changes in the frequency of devastating spring freezes, and the limited short-term adaptation options given the relatively long-term investment of orchard blocks.

Geographers have increasingly become involved in assessments of the vulnerability to, and potential impacts of, climate variability and change. These challenging interdisciplinary endeavors are providing many geographers with exciting opportunities to work collectively with scientists from a range of disciplines, interact directly with stakeholder groups, and engage in research that is not only stimulating but also has considerable applied significance. I am concerned, however, with what I see as a continuing tendency in assessment studies to downplay the complexity and uncertainty of the potential impacts of climate variability and change.

Several years ago, in an editorial in Environmental Science & Technology, Baruch Fischhoff, a well-known decision scientist, argued that scientists, although traditionally trained to consider uncertainty, multiple approaches and a range of data sources, often turn to an advocacy-based communication when they are highly concerned about the potential consequences of either action or inaction and/or when they believe that the “science will not receive a fair hearing.” In advocacy-based communication, a case is made for a specific viewpoint and uncertainty is introduced only through arguments with contrasting viewpoints. Although advocacy-based communication has its place, a potential consequence is the loss of confidence in, and appreciation for, science by the general public. As an alternative, Fischhoff argued for what he refers to as nonpersuasive communication, an approach that explicitly considers uncertainty and “allows science to speak for itself.” From Fischhoff’s perspective, communication of climate variability and change involves climate scientists, or more generally domain scientists, who develop the information to eventually be communicated and confirm that it is scientifically sound, decision scientists who help identify the information relevant to a particular decision, and social scientists who work to overcome communication barriers.

Personally, I have long been uncomfortable with communication regarding climate variability change that fails to convey the associated complexity and uncertainty, particularly the many limitations of climate observations and projections, with which I am all too familiar as a geographer/climate scientist. Thus, Fischhoff’s argument for nonpersuasive communication of climate variability and change resonates strongly with me, although I would expand Fischhoff’s model to include a broader range of experts as domain scientists and would blur the distinctions between the domain, decision, and social science experts, emphasizing instead the communication among experts and between experts and stakeholders.

Climate scientists are not the exclusive domain experts in the communication of the potential impacts of climate variability and change. In fact, few stakeholders can directly incorporate future projections of climate variables in their decision-making. Rather, stakeholders require information on changes in climate-influenced parameters of relevance to their activity or industry. Expertise from a range of disciplines is needed, including social science (e.g., human geography, economics, demography) whose involvement extends well beyond overcoming communication barriers to the development and evaluation of information required for decision-making. For example, while growers of commodity crops (e.g., maize, soybeans, and wheat) are cognizant that changes in temperature and precipitation during the growing season will affect their operations, projected changes in yield and farm income are much more relevant parameters for their decision-making.

Furthermore, inferring potential yield or income from simplified climate scenarios (e.g., change in growing-season mean temperature and precipitation) is suspect given the complex relationships between weather/climate and yield, and between yield and income. Consequently, climate scientists, agronomists, economists and others need to collaboratively explore, in a scientifically sound manner, the ways that a perturbed climate may influence yield and, subsequently, profitability and livelihood.

The concept of the “usability” of assessment outcomes also needs to be broadened. Although a number of previous authors have implored climate scientists to consider the “usability” of their observations and projections, even chiding them for the too often opaqueness of the metadata (when provided) of climate information, the usability of the outcomes of the different impact models employed in an assessment, such as yield models, is less often considered. In addition, one can argue that stakeholders should be part of, rather than separate from, the assessment team, working with decision scientists to identify the information relevant to the decisions that they will be making, and with domain scientists to facilitate the co-creation of that information.

As someone involved in the development and use of climate projections for local/regional assessments, I am often asked by scientists from other fields for advice on the availability and suitability of climate information for a particular assessment. Lately, I have been somewhat disheartened by the number of requests I receive for “simple” climate scenarios (often little more than a projected change in mean temperature and precipitation). To be sure, simple scenarios, even “what if” scenarios, are extremely useful, particularly for vulnerability assessments, and they complement more detailed projections which, in conjunction with suitable impact models, can illuminate potential “surprises” that fall outside stakeholder experience. I am more concerned that a reliance on simplistic projections, especially when paired with relatively unsophisticated impact models, will fail to fully illuminate the complexity and uncertainty associated with climate variability and change, and fail to provide the information needed for robust decision-making, in contrast to when a plurality of approaches — both simple and complex — are employed. I have also been rather dismayed by the disconnect between the very fine spatial resolution at which climate information frequently is requested versus the information content of the scenarios which often varies much more broadly in space.

Another concern is the lack of consideration of the assumptions of the impact models that will be employed in an assessment in the context of the nature and limitations of climate information, or of the contribution of the impact models themselves to the uncertainty of the assessment outcomes. That said, several recent publications represent initial steps in addressing these concerns. In particular, a recent analysis conducted at the University of California-Berkeley illustrated that the high degree of spatial autocorrelation in gridded climate observations can violate the independent assumption of empirical economic models that are often used in assessment studies and recommended that station observations may be the more appropriate choice of climate information for the development and application of these models. Also, members of the AgMIP (Agricultural Modeling Intercomparison and Improvement Project) team recently demonstrated that uncertainty introduced in future projections of wheat yield by the choice of yield model was as large or larger than the uncertainty introduced by an ensemble of climate projections. Both these studies point to the need for careful attention to the assumptions of impact models and to the necessity of evaluating the uncertainty surrounding all components of an assessment, rather than just the uncertainty of the climate information.

Geographers are in a unique position to develop enhanced approaches for climate assessments that improve the usability of assessment outcomes and to advocate for nonpersuasive communication in decision-making that embraces complexity and uncertainty. Geography is an “interdisciplinary discipline.” We regularly and effectively work across the many subfields of Geography and across disciplinary boundaries. We are also sensitive to disciplinary differences in research culture, methods and approaches, and, therefore, can help facilitate a more seamless integration across assessment components. Geographers are already actively involved in assessment efforts, but there is much more that we can do to advance new assessment approaches. The fruit grower in northwest Michigan, and the many others facing complex choices in an uncertain future, could use our help. Let’s step up to the task.

—Julie Winkler

DOI: 10.14433/2013.0023

For more information on articles referred to above see:

Nonpersuasive Communication about Matters of Greatest Urgency: Climate Change” by Baruch Fischhoff in Environmental Science and Technology, pages 7204-7208, November 1, 2007

“Uncertainty in Simulating Wheat Yields under Climate Change” by Asseng et al. in Nature Climate Change, Volume 3, pages 827–832, 2013, DOI:10.1038/nclimate1916

“Using Weather Data and Climate Model Output in Economic Analyses of Climate Change” by Auffhammer et al., NBER Working Paper No. w19087, 2013, DOI:10.3386/w19087

Photo credit: Dwight Burdette; Apple orchard on Wassem Fruit Farm, Augusta Township, Michigan

 

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Supporting the Regional Divisions

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Physical Geography In the AAG Journals: Is It Time for a New Approach and a New Journal?

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Winkler

A great deal of excellent research is conducted by physical geographers. Unfortunately, only a small portion of this research is published in the two AAG journals, the Annals of the Association of American Geographers and The Professional Geographer. As you peruse your November issue of the Annals, you may notice that, for the first time in a number of years, this issue does not include an Environmental Sciences (ES) section. The small number of submissions to this section, in conjunction with the recent increase in the number of Annals issues per year, has made it more difficult to regularly populate an ES section in spite of extensive efforts by the current ES editor to recruit manuscripts. The submission rate of physical geography manuscripts is in sharp contrast to the overall substantial increase in manuscripts submitted to the Annals and The Professional Geographer, but is consistent with trends observed for journals published by other geographical scholarly societies. Few articles by physical geographers appear in the Transactions of the British Geographical Society, for example.

Why do physical geographers publish less in the AAG journals compared to other subfields of geography? Like any author, physical geographers want their research to reach the largest possible audience. They also want their work to reach the audience that can best make use of, and build upon, their research. The perception of many physical geographers is that these goals may not be achieved by publishing in the AAG journals. My own experience is in line with this perception. Over my career, I have published a modest number of physical geography-related articles in the Annals and The Professional Geographer. For the most part, these articles have been cited by fellow “geographer climatologists.” This, of course, is a community whom I respect, and I am honored that they read my work. But at the same time, I would have liked a broader readership for these articles. Other physical geographers apparently feel similarly, as recent surveys, such as that of Steven Quiring* from Texas A&M University, suggest a decline in the proportion of physical geography articles published in geography journals. Quiring found that in 1989-1997 geographer climatologists published 21% of their articles in geography journals, but by 1998-2005 the proportion had dropped to only 11%.

Another confounding factor is that physical geographers are frequently involved in multi-disciplinary research, and the selection of a journal for publication is often a group decision. Journals with names like Annals of the Association of American Geographers or The Professional Geographer can be seen as overly discipline-specific to non-geographers on a research team. More often, interdisciplinary research is submitted to journals serving a broad range of disciplines or to disciplinary journals with exceptionally large readerships. Greater use of quantitative indices to evaluate research success may also be contributing to the relatively small number of submissions by physical geographers to AAG journals. A decade or more ago, quantification of individual productivity was mostly limited to the number of articles published per year, but now H-factors, total number of citations, and related measures are also used to evaluate research productivity and impact. Since physical geographers often compete for resources and recognition with other physical scientists, they are compelled to publish in journals with similar impact factors as the publication outlets of their non-geography colleagues.

What impact does the limited publication by physical geographers in the Annals and The Professional Geography have on the AAG and, more generally, the discipline of geography? In my opinion, the potential consequences are large. We argue that a major strength of our discipline is its integrative nature and the ability of geographers to think and work across the human/physical divide. Yet how strongly can we make this argument if our major journals include little physical geography? What impression do these journals give others of the breadth of geography and its synergies? Also, how is a geography community built, if a major component of the discipline is not publishing in geography journals, and, consequently, other geographers are largely unaware of their work? And if physical geographers no longer turn to the AAG as a publication outlet, will they continue to participate in and support other aspects of the AAG, such as its professional meetings?

The concerns raised above are not new. Nor do they apply only to physical geography. But the lack of an ES section in next month’s Annals reinforces the need for new efforts to ensure the visibility of physical geography within the geography community and beyond.

An essential initial step is for individual physical geographers — including me — to acknowledge the importance of a physical geography presence in AAG journals to the discipline as a whole. A modest commitment, of perhaps one manuscript submission every three to four years over the course of one’s publishing career, would go a long way to increasing physical geography’s presence in the Annals and The Professional Geographer. Physical geographers also need to reconsider what constitutes an “Annals article.” Many of us wait to submit to the Annals until we have that special manuscript we think appeals broadly across much of geography or can be written in a manner that is easily understandable across multiple subfields. We need to keep in mind that scientifically-sound manuscripts that move a subfield of geography forward also merit review and potential publication in the Annals. Greater publicity of AAG journals to other disciplines is also needed. Strategically-distributed press releases of particularly significant papers, whatever the subfield, can attract readership. Additional options include the wide distribution of the table of contents of the Annals and The Professional Geographer via relevant listservs and other media to reach a broader audience.

But “out of the box” approaches also need to be considered. One such option is for the AAG to add new journals to its publications suite — journals that have the AAG imprimatur, yet appeal to a wide range of disciplines and have broad visibility. Such a journal, tentatively titled Geohumanities, is already under consideration by the AAG Council and Central Office, and, at its last meeting, the AAG Council initiated discussion of a second journal geared toward environmental science, referred to, for discussion only at this point, as Geographical Perspectives on Global Change. Both journals would have as their goal the publication of quality research by geographers and non-geographers that advances geographic understanding and/or employs geographic methods and techniques.

How might a new AAG-sponsored global change/environmental science journal enhance the visibility of physical geography research? A thematic, rather than disciplinary, journal title would hopefully attract a broad readership across multiple disciplines. A broad readership, in turn, would make this journal an attractive outlet for physical geographers and other environmental scientists to publish their research. Also, a more thematic journal would be appealing as a publication outlet for the outcomes of interdisciplinary research efforts. If well supported by physical geographers, all geographers could easily turn to this journal to keep abreast of new developments in physical geography. In addition, the AAG could more aggressively market a journal devoted to global change/environmental science to other disciplines, especially those in the natural sciences, than what is currently possible when only a small number of articles related to environmental science are published in the Annals and The Physical Geographer. Wider marketing would bring more attention to the entire AAG journal suite, benefiting our current journals, as well as the proposed new journal. Furthermore, the AAG imprimatur on a successful global change/environmental science journal that is highly regarded across multiple disciplines would bring more visibility to geography’s contribution to these areas, a benefit for the entire discipline.

Obviously, further effort is needed to assure such a journal’s success. We need to explore and identify a niche(s) that an AAG-sponsored global change/environmental science journal could best fill, and selection of a journal title requires careful attention. A visionary, well respected, and dedicated editor, along with a world-class editorial board drawn from multiple disciplines, are essential to the journal’s success. An intense and extensive publicity campaign is also essential. Admittedly, initiating a new journal, especially at a time when the publication industry is undergoing substantial change, has some risk. But so, too, does having a major portion of our discipline not publishing in AAG journals.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on a new journal, specifically, and on physical geography, more broadly. Also, we will have a moderated discussion on how the AAG can better support physical geography at our annual meeting in Tampa. I invite you to participate. This session is tentatively scheduled for 11:45 a.m. – 12:40 p.m., Thursday, April 10, 2014. More information will be posted on the AAG website and distributed electronically via the AAG Geogram.

–Julie Winkler

DOI: 10.14433/2013.0018

* For more information on the survey conducted by Steven Quiring see “Trends in Publication Outlets of Geographer-Climatologists,” The Professional Geographer, Volume 59, Issue 3, pages 357–364, August 2007. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9272.2007.00618.x Members can log in to see this article.

 

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