Geography Faculty Development Alliance – Early Career and Department Leadership Workshops

The Geography Faculty Development Alliance (GFDA) Early Career Workshop class of 2017 gathered for a photo at the close of the conference on June 24 at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn

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.


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.

You do not need to be a member of AAG to register for the workshop. Simply follow the instructions to sign up for an explorer account if you are not an AAG member. Enrollment is on a first-come, first-served basis.


Department Leadership Workshop

Departments are increasingly concerned with survival in a time of disruption and change in higher education. The Department Leadership Workshop focuses on helping our members respond effectively to these changes through strong management, shared governance, and deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities they may face in coming years. What are the measures of success for departments? How can departments strategically position themselves to generate student credit hours, attract diverse majors, support faculty research and publication, innovate in high-impact learning practices, and collect evidence that they are achieving these and other goals? The workshop features presentations and discussions on a wide range of topic of interest to leaders in geography such as strategic planning and self-study reports, social media and marketing, recruiting for diversity and inclusion, and supporting mid-career and late-career faculty.

The Department Leadership Workshop is for all geographers interested in improving their programs — chairs/heads, associate chairs/heads, deans, academic advisors, provosts and other administrators, as well as all faculty interested in leadership issues. The workshop is particularly well suited for individuals who may soon assume leadership positions. Participants will also have an opportunity to meet, learn with, and share some meals with early career faculty attending the Geography Faculty Development Alliance workshop during the same week.

Time will also be set aside for participants to share and discuss their own concerns and experiences. One of the most important elements of the workshop is the opportunity it affords everyone to learn from and network with new and experienced leaders and administrators.