Newsletter – May 2022

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PRESIDENT’S COLUMN

Do Look Up

By Emily Yeh

The 2020 Cameron Peak Fire in Colorado, the largest wildfire in the state’s history. Credit: Phil Millette, National Interagency Fire Center

In a recent review of Don’t Look Up, the terrifyingly close-to-home satire of collective inaction on global warming, Pablo Ortiz of the Union of Concerned Scientists suggests that one form of “looking up” is to write and share about how climate change is affecting you, as a means of building a larger movement… taking Ortiz’s advice, I begin here by briefly describing one way climate change is affecting the place I live.


ANNUAL MEETING

AAG 2023 Denver Postcard - Bird's eye view of Denver, Colorado, 1908 vintage mapSave the Date for AAG 2023 in Denver

Join us for the Mile-High meeting. Mark your calendar for the hybrid AAG Annual Meeting in Denver, CO on March 23-27, 2023. We invite you to organize and participate in sessions, workshops, field trips, special events, and activities. Look for more information throughout the summer to help you plan. We look forward to seeing you online and in the Rocky Mountains.


PUBLICATIONS

NEW Annals of the American Association of Geographers Issue Alert: The 2022 Special Issue of the Annals on Displacements

Annals journal coverThe Annals publishes a special issue each year to highlight research around a specific theme of global importance. The contains 26 articles on the topic of Displacements and is guest edited by Kendra Strauss. The articles are divided into five sections: Theorizing Displacements; Understanding Experiences of Displacement: Concepts, Methodologies, and Data; Urbanization and Infrastructures; Bringing in the State; and Politics and Praxis. The 2022 Special Issue on “Displacements” explores how, building on our history of critical engagement with place, geographers from across the discipline can contribute empirical, theoretical, and methodological insights on displacements and their implications. Contributions addressing displacements through multi- and -inter-disciplinary engagements with geographical theory and methods are from a broad range of perspectives, locations, and historical and contemporary contexts.

All AAG members have full online access to all issues of the Annals through the Journals section of the . Read more about the Annals Special Issue .

Questions about the Annals? Contact .

NEW The Professional Geographer Issue Alert: Articles with topics ranging from pedestrian access to K-12 schools to Finnish sauna diplomacy

The Professional Geographer Cover FlatThe latest issue of The Professional Geographer is now available () with 10 new research articles plus a six article focus on . Article topics include ; ; ; ; ; ; ; and . Study areas include ; ; and . Authors are from a variety of global institutions including: ; ; ; and .

All AAG members have full online access to all issues of The Professional Geographer through their member dashboard. Each issue, the editors choose one article to make freely available. In this issue you can read by Matthew R. Lehnerta and Seth Alan Williams for free.

Questions about The Professional Geographer? Contact .

NEW Issue of The AAG Review of Books Published

Review-of-Books-Cover

The latest issue of The AAG Review of Books is now available () with 7 book reviews on recent books related to geography, public policy and international affairs. The new issue also includes a film review of the documentary Holding Tightly: Custom and Healing in Timor-Leste and two book review fora. 2022 marks the ten-year anniversary of The AAG Review of Books and this issue includes from current editor Debbie Hopkins.

Questions about The AAG Review of Books? Contact .

In addition to the most recently published journal, read the latest issue of the other AAG journals online:

• Annals of the American Association of Geographers
• The Professional Geographer
• GeoHumanities
• The AAG Review of Books


ASSOCIATION NEWS

Support the AAG Student Travel Fund — Make a Difference in the Life of a Young Geographer

One of AAG’s top fund-raising priorities for 2022 will be the AAG Student Travel Fund. We will launch this fund-raising effort in the coming days via email.

As we all realize, nothing can take the place of the meeting experience. It’s so valuable to presenting your research, networking, and connecting with colleagues. With the pandemic behind us, and the annual meeting now transformed into a hybrid (in-person with some virtual presenters) and virtual experience, we need to support our students. They have patiently waited to return to the new normal and now are faced with rising travel costs and diminished conference budgets that may make attending the 2023 AAG Annual Meeting challenging.

Our goal is to support at least 100 students and to offer enrichment awards of up to $500 to support their travel and/or participation as a hybrid or virtual attendee. .

Have Your Department or Program Featured in Recruitment Video

A World of Possibilities video still showing an illustration of a map of North America with network lines hovering overLast fall, AAG worked with Green Jay Strategies to produce the “” video, designed to be used to recruit students into geography programs. Many programs took advantage of our offer to customize the video with your logo and contact information, so we are extending that offer again this year. To see an example of how your information will be featured in the video, .

Getting your customized copy is especially valuable this year, as AAG’s 2022 Geography Awareness Week theme will be tied to the video. If you would like to get a version featuring information for your program, please send an email to and include your approved logo, department/program name, contact person, contact website, contact email, and contact phone number. Please also include the email address where you would like the final video sent.

Please submit all requests by May 20. The final video will be emailed back to you in early June.

The video is aimed at students who are early in their process of discovering a geography degree and considers the research of Dr. Justin Stoler (University of Miami) on the understanding and preferences of undergraduate students. We would like to again thank AAG members Dr. Debarchana Ghosh, Dr. Deborah Thomas, Dr. Jacqueline Housel, Dr. Jason Post, Dr. Justin Stoler, and Dr. Wan Yu for their roles in helping shape this video and the AAG COVID-19 Response subcommittee for proposing this project.

Spots Available in AAG’s New Expanded Professional Development Webinar Series

Photo of African American woman participating in an online program on her laptop while taking notesHave you signed up for one of our Professional Development Webinar Series yet? Whether you’re a student, recent graduate, job seeker, department head, or a career geography professional, AAG has an event that is right for you.

Our coming webinars include:

. Hear from geographers who have successfully utilized their degrees to launch careers in these sought-after fields.

. Explore ways geographers are influencing policy and aiding social movements.

. Hear from geographers carving out career paths with a focal point outside of GIS or GIS-related experience.

!

Registration Open for Summer Series for Grad Students and Recent Graduates

Photo of African American student writing notes in notebook with book and laptop at a cafe tableThe AAG 2022 Virtual Summer Series is back. Sign-ups are open for our Graduate Forums and Seminars, which will continue throughout the summer.

Our are led by the AAG Graduate Student Affinity Group and will offer graduate students with sessions that enable them to network and feel a sense of community.

Our target Master’s or Doctoral students in Geography programs and recently graduated geographers, and cover a wide range of practical topics.

Take Part in the AAG’s Graduate Faculty Development Alliance Workshops, June 13-17

Participants of the 2008 GFDA workshop gather for a photoTwo summer professional development workshops from the AAG’s Graduate Faculty Development Alliance will continue online in 2022. Registration will be filled on a first come, first served basis and is free for AAG Members and $150 for non-members.

Department Chairs, Heads, new Deans, and other emerging leaders — develop the tools you need to do your job, network with peers, and learn from top leadership professionals in an inclusive, innovative, and interactive series.

The AAG Geography Faculty Development Alliance for early career geographers, as well as non-AAG members who are graduate students or teaching geography in higher education, offers an innovative, new online approach to the highly successful early career workshops that have been offered since 2002.

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Member News

May Member Updates

Dr. Andrew Sluyter, Professor of Geography at Louisiana State University, has received a highly prestigious . The foundation awarded 28 fellowships from 300 extraordinary scholars nominated by the leaders of select universities and other preeminent institutions. Each fellow receives $200,000 over two years to support visionary scholarship on important and enduring issues confronting our society.

Two geographers have been named to the 2022 class of Guggenheim Fellows. Karen Bakker, a Professor in the Department of Geography at The University of British Columbia, is the producer of “” an edited volume exploring perspectives on Indigenous water law, bringing together voices of Indigenous scholars and community members from across Canada. Geoff Mann, Professor of Geography and Director of the Centre for Global Political Economy at Simon Fraser University, has an interest in all aspects of politics and the political economy of capitalism. .

Dr. Mandy Munro-Stasiuk has been appointed as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Kent State University. Munro-Stasiuk is the first women to hold the position. With degrees in geography, archaeology, and earth and atmospheric sciences as well as research experience in geomorphology and genocide, Munro-Stasiuk believes her background uniquely positions her to understand the needs of the college’s departments in humanities, social sciences, and sciences. The announcement was made during Women’s History Month. .

Dr. Farhana Sultana has been promoted to Full Professor in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. This promotion marks the first time a woman of color has been promoted to Full Professor in the department’s 80-year history and the second time any woman has reach this rank.


RESOURCES AND OPPORTUNITIES

Virtual Launch of You Are Here’s 2022 Issue: Queer Ecologies!

Participate in the virtual launch of the 2022 issue of you are here: the journal of creative geography. yah is a graduate student-run journal housed at the University of Arizona that explores intersection of art and geography. On May 27th at 11am Pacific Time, yah will be gathering on zoom to celebrate the new issue: queer ecologies! Contributors from the issue will be sharing their poetry, visual art, performance, films, etc., and more generally musing on the topics of queer ecologies and creative geographies. For sneak peeks at the issue, follow us at @youarehereUA on Instagram and Twitter.

Kauffman Foundation 2022 Central Standards RFP and 2021 Indicators of Early-Stage Entrepreneurship Report Released, Upcoming Events

Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is AAG 2022's gold sponsorThe Kauffman Foundation’s 2022 Central Standards Request for Proposals (RFP) is open for applications. The RFP focuses on supporting entrepreneurship support organizations in Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas, providing funds to encourage and accelerate collaborations between two or more entrepreneurship support organizations working together. Proposals will be accepted until May 20. Learn more about the 2022 Central Standards RFP .

The recently released 2021 Kauffman Indicators of Early-Stage Entrepreneurship (KESE) national report highlights data from the past year, providing a look at trends surrounding the rate of new entrepreneurship and the opportunity share of new entrepreneurs. to learn more about the latest data, including statistics on specific demographic groups.

The next virtual Early-Stage Researcher Professional Development session will take place on Friday, May 20 at 1 p.m. CT with mentor Jerome Katz at Saint Louis University. This session is open to 25 early-stage researchers.

May 26th 10 AM CT is the next Entrepreneurship Issues forum: Gig Work and Entrepreneurship. Gig work has received increasing attention in recent years, particularly with the rise of digital platforms. From Uber drivers to Upwork’s “independent professionals,” there is no shortage of platforms enabling individuals and businesses to get services and talent on demand. What does the proliferation of digital platforms — and gig work more broadly — mean for entrepreneurship? This forum will explore the landscape of gig work in the U.S., the various types of gig work people engage in, the relationship between gig work and entrepreneurship, and what this all means for policy and practice.

Call for Participants – Research Study on Scholarly Activity

Tenured/tenure-track faculty members at U.S. college or university, are invited to participate in an online survey about how your research is evaluated by other faculty in your department. Your participation will help to better understand how research evaluation experiences vary by academic field, research area, and researcher demographics, and how these experiences affect faculty career outcomes.

The survey will take approximately 20-25 minutes to complete and you will receive a $20 Amazon gift card for your participation.

If you are willing to participate, please start by complete a brief to determine if you are eligible to participate.


In Memoriam

Photo of J Ronald EytonJ. Ronald Eyton passed away on March 14, 2022. His death, in a hospital in Vancouver, BC, following a sudden illness was unexpected. After a variety of academic appointments at the Assistant (University of Illinois, University of South Carolina) and Associate (Penn State University, University of Alberta) Professor level, Ron moved to Texas State University in 1995. Ron was an important member of the Geography team which resulted in the Department of Geography being awarded the first doctoral program at Texas State University. .

Photo of Lynn UseryDr. Lynn Usery passed from this earthly plane on March 22, 2022 following a brief illness. He will be sorely missed by the geography community, not only for his many research contributions, leadership and vision, and tireless service, but also for his friendship and camaraderie. Michael Tischler of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) wrote, “On paper, we knew him as the Director of the Center of Excellence for Geographic Information Science [CEGIS]. But he was far more than that title would lead one to believe. Lynn leaves a remarkable legacy given his extraordinary scientific accomplishments, presence as a leader in the geographic science community, and impact on individual geographic scientists inside USGS and around the world.” .

Photo of William B KoryDr. William B. Kory, professor emeritus of geography at the University of Pittsburgh–Johnstown, passed away on Saturday, April 2, 2022 in his Florida home. Dr. Kory was unrelentingly committed to his students’ success at Pitt-Johnstown. When the Department of Geography in Pittsburgh disbanded like so many others during the 1980s, Dr. Kory reestablished the University’s undergraduate major in Johnstown. He was also an active member of the Pennsylvania Geographical Society and devoted significant time to editorial duties at The Pennsylvania Geographer. .


Featured Articles

The Mapmaker’s Mantra

Photo of hand holding a compass; credit Garrett Sears, unsplash.comBy Aileen Buckley, Allen Carroll, and Clint Brown

Maps are widely regarded as objective and authoritative sources of information. Over the past decade, news and other information sources have often been distorted on social media, eroding their authority. It’s our hope that we can help avoid a similar erosion of cartographic credibility by drafting this “Mapmaker’s Mantra.”

The Mantra is not a code of ethics for cartography. It focuses solely on mapmaking, not the many other facets of cartography. It aims at the making of maps that convey authoritative information, not maps for advertisements, propaganda, and the like. Its goal is to preserve the authority of maps by reminding the mapmaking community of their ethical and moral responsibility to tell the truth with maps.


GEOGRAPHERS IN THE NEWS

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Do Look Up

The 2020 Cameron Peak Fire in Colorado, the largest wildfire in the state’s history. Credit: Phil Millette, National Interagency Fire Center
The 2020 Cameron Peak Fire in Colorado, the largest wildfire in the state’s history. Credit: Phil Millette, National Interagency Fire Center

In a recent review of Don’t Look Up, the terrifyingly close-to-home satire of collective inaction on global warming, Pablo Ortiz of the Union of Concerned Scientists suggests that one form of “looking up” is to write and share about how climate change is affecting you, as a means of building a larger movement. Granted, this suggestion is pretty tame when some climate scientists are taking direct action, such as chaining themselves to the White House fence after the release of the most recent IPCC report (one Facebook commentator quipped, “Remember when climate scientists were content to do research, publish papers, and issue dire warnings?”). Yet, taking Ortiz’s advice, I begin here by briefly describing one way climate change is affecting the place I live.  

Fire season in Colorado used to be the summer. Not anymore. In fact, there is no longer really a fire season; the landscape burns destructively year-round. On December 30, a once-unthinkable winter grassland fire destroyed more than 1000 houses and caused 1 billion USD in insured losses, just south of my neighborhood in Boulder, Colorado. Just three months later, another wildfire led to the mandatory evacuation of 19,000 people living in 8000 homes, including mine. That was March 26. On April 7, as I was heading home from the office, I received a message from my sixth-grade son, “another fire!” This one was very close to the March 26 fire, which was still burning. On April 19, there were four separate fires burning in Boulder County, leading to more evacuations. Half of the state’s 20 largest wildfires have happened since 2018. A new sense of dread now seeps through the pores of everyday life, deepening the enduring exhaustion of the pandemic.   

I want to acknowledge here that crisis narratives about climate change have been critiqued by Indigenous scholars. Even though many of us are experiencing climate change as an unprecedented emergency, Indigenous peoples have already faced climate change in the form of territorial dispossession and displacement to new ecosystems and climates. Moreover, as Potawatomi environmental justice scholar Kyle Whyte reminds us, colonialism has long used perceived and real crises to defend unjust actions. He argues for an epistemology of coordination rather than crisis, one based on the importance of moral bonds or kinship relationships, as necessary for responding to change without further justifying violence. With these cautions in mind, though, I wonder if it isn’t still necessary to treat climate change as a crisis when it comes to the capitalist status quo of corporate profits and the discursive formation that makes us think there is no alternative.  

* * * * * 

This spring, several colleagues and I embarked on a modest effort to “look up,” in the form of authoring a faculty resolution calling on TIAA to divest from the climate crisis and reinvest in climate justice. Through TIAA-Divest!, an organization that works with faculty, staff and students to encourage TIAA to become a more responsible investor, we learned that even though TIAA represents itself as a “leader in responsible investing” and states that “climate change poses long-term risks to investments,” it invests at least 16 billion dollars in fossil fuel stocks, across 77 equity funds. Furthermore, the Brazilian federal land agency and a Brazilian state court found TIAA (and Harvard University’s endowment fund) to have violated foreign land ownership law in its acquisition of half a million acres of farmland, working through opaque corporate structures and shell companies. Though TIAA maintains that it was in compliance with the law, these investments have clearly aided land grabs from peasants and indigenous peoples, and contributed to deforestation and thus climate change.

In the US, TIAA directly financed 35% of the construction costs of Cricket Valley Energy, a fracked natural gas-powered electric generation station in Dover New York, in an economically disadvantaged community adjacent to one of the Northeast’s largest freshwater wetlands. This fracking operation drew protests across New York state. Even the company’s “social choice low carbon equity fund” is 3.17% invested in the oil and gas industry, and 12% invested in deforestation-risk companies across 25 holdings. The list of problems goes on. TIAA is hardly alone: Vanguard has a slightly higher percentage but an order of magnitude more fossil fuel investments. But we opted to focus on TIAA because it is the leading provider of financial services in higher education, and the only administrator of retirement funds available to faculty at my institution, as well as having a reputation as a company committed to social and environmental responsibility.  

Divestment is not uncontroversial. Geographers and other researchers have shown that ESG (environmental, social, and governance) investing often amounts to little more than greenwashing, because of its unregulated nature and loose standards, as evidenced by wildly divergent ratings between different ESG rating agencies. The ESG movement is also partly resulting in what geographer Brett Christophers has called the “full-fledged romance between the fossil-fuel economy and private equity.” over the past decade. This is concerning given that private equity is far less accountable or transparent than public companies. More broadly, focusing only on ESG investment furthers capitalist logics of privatization and financialization. Big asset managers reap the benefits when they push governments to de-risk the clean energy transition for their private investments. This diverts resources from what is actually desperately needed for a just transition: public investment. None of this excellent critical work suggests, however, that divestment itself is the problem. When accompanied by calls for greater government regulation of investors and demands for public finance of the infrastructure necessary for an equitable low-carbon economic transition, divestment sends a much stronger message about the status quo than any dialogue that investors might have with corporate boards.  

These arguments for public investment were, however, not the objections that our modest resolution on TIAA encountered. The most vigorous opposition came from a business school faculty member who insisted, “divestment doesn’t work” because there will always be someone who does not care about climate change and who will thus buy divested stocks divested at a low price, and then make a profit when those same stocks inevitably increase in value. The CEOs of those companies themselves might also play this gambit through stock options. Thus, the reasoning goes, we have only rewarded those who we wished to punish. This argument is both a red herring, because financial investors and CEOs are always trying to make a profit, and provides further evidence that regulation, of both fossil fuel emissions and markets, is needed. 

When I asked what he thought those who cared about unfolding climate disasters should do instead of divestment, our colleague’s response was the pinnacle of neoliberalism: “Try to get other consumers to stop using fossil fuels.” The conviction that atomized individual consumers are the only possible source of change ignores the fundamental ways in which fossil fuels are embedded in our infrastructure, housing, and culture– unsurprising, since as geographer Matt Huber has argued, the history of American oil consumption has itself been central to the rise of neoliberalism in this country. Our business school critic also insisted that divestment is not justified by either volatile short-term fossil fuel equity prices or the impending stranded assets of fossil fuel corporations, since short term performance is meaningless and in the long run, we are all dead (no business retains value forever). Thus, a portfolio that eliminated fossil fuels is, by this definition, inferior since any constraint on investment is inevitably second-best. Presumably, this logic would also justify investing in industries that employ slave labor.  

We argued back with the work of geographers and other scholars on multiple fronts. We quoted Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry of the Future: “What’s the monetary value of human civilization? Trying to answer that question proves you are a moral and practical idiot.” I’m happy to report that through appeals to our campus leaders’ stated commitment to addressing climate change, the campus’ “reputational brand” for climate change research (one of the few arguments that spoke to the economists), the injustices of climate change, and our duties as educators, our resolution ultimately passed. Next, we are sending it to TIAA’s CEO and Board of Governors. 

* * * * * 

Research and science alone are not enough to make change. Organizing is always necessary, as we can see in both the TIAA effort and the direct action some climate scientists are now engaging in. It’s clear as well that we need government action — for example, for robust and convenient high-speed electrified rail infrastructure that would allow us to gather in low-carbon ways for scholarly exchange and networking; hopefully, more geographers will become involved in organized policy advocacy in this realm. Lastly, I am keenly aware of the contradiction between the focus of this column and the fact that the in-person component of the 2024 hybrid AAG annual meeting is scheduled to take place in Hawaii, a costly travel destination in terms of both dollars and carbon. This conference location was chosen many years ago and legal structures (of hotel contracts) preclude change. Can a significant number of geographers adopt an epistemology of coordination, perhaps in the form of many local, relationship-building nodes, as an alternative to carbon-costly air travel? Will we look up?

DOI: 10.14433/2017.0109


Please note: The ideas expressed in the AAG President’s column are not necessarily the views of the AAG as a whole. This column is traditionally a space in which the president may talk about their views or focus during their tenure as president of AAG, or spotlight their areas of professional work. Please feel free to email the president directly at emily [dot] yeh [at] colorado [dot] edu to enable a constructive discussion. 

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The Mapmaker’s Mantra

Photo of hand holding a compass; credit Garrett Sears, unsplash.com

By Aileen Buckley, Allen Carroll, Clint Brown

Maps are widely regarded as objective and authoritative sources of information. Over the past decade, news and other information sources have often been distorted on social media, eroding their authority. It’s our hope that we can help avoid a similar erosion of cartographic credibility by drafting this “Mapmaker’s Mantra.”

The Mantra is not a code of ethics for cartography. It focuses solely on mapmaking, not the many other facets of cartography. It aims at the making of maps that convey authoritative information, not maps for advertisements, propaganda, and the like. Its goal is to preserve the authority of maps by reminding the mapmaking community of their ethical and moral responsibility to tell the truth with maps.

The Mapmaker’s Mantra

Maps made ethically convey their message accurately, justifiably, and thoroughly. As a mirror of the world, they help people to develop deeper geographic understanding which can lead to wiser spatial decision making. Thus, ethical mapmakers recognize the power of maps and do not accept incautious practices in their own work or the work of others. Widespread ethical mapmaking will ensure that the authority of maps endures.

This Mapmaker’s Mantra is presented with the intention of reinforcing ethical behavior in mapmaking:

  • Be Honest and Accurate: The highest objective and primary obligation of ethical mapmakers is to communicate information in the most accurate and understandable way. They strive for veracity and verifiability in all aspects of their mapmaking.
  • Be Transparent and Accountable: Ethical mapmakers take responsibility for their work and are open and transparent about their sources and decisions. They accept that neither speed nor format forgive accountability.
  • Minimize Harm and Seek to Provide Value: Ethical mapmakers treat sources, subjects, colleagues, and members of the public with respect; they promote equity, inclusion, and empathy. They strive to make maps of value to increase understanding and provide insights.
  • Be Humble and Courageous: Ethical mapmakers humbly admit when they get it wrong and gently point out when others get it wrong. They have the courage to admit when they do not know something and call on others when their own skills or knowledge are insufficient.

These basic guiding principles give rise to and provide the justification for rules that help guide and assess a mapmaker’s decisions. Resources related to the rules provide a better understanding of and/or practical experience with the skills needed for ethical mapmaking. The Mapmaker’s Mantra will link to existing rules and resources created or endorsed by professional cartography and GIScience organizations.

What’s Next?

To support discussion and collaboration, we created a user group that will soon go live on the Esri Community called “Ethics in Mapping,” where ideas, guidelines, and best practices can be shared. We can use this community to have conversations, upload files, collaborate on documents, and share videos and other media. The community is also where we can share the links to existing rules and resources.

Knowing how to act ethically is not always obvious. As a community, we can discuss and explore the challenges, requirements, and best practices for ethical mapmaking. Come join us!

Thanks to Charlie Frye, Mark Harrower, and Jim Herries for their comments on early drafts of The Mantra.

To learn more about issues of ethics in geography and cartography, explore the GeoEthics webinar series organized by The AAG and the Center for Spatial Analysis at University of California Santa Barbara.

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Lynn Usery

On March 22, 2022, the world lost a GIS giant and cartography compadre when Dr. Lynn Usery passed from this earthly plane following a brief illness. He will be sorely missed by the geography community, not only for his many research contributions, leadership and vision, and tireless service, but also for his friendship and camaraderie.

Michael Tischler of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) wrote, “On paper, we knew him as the Director of the Center of Excellence for Geographic Information Science [CEGIS]. But he was far more than that title would lead one to believe. Lynn leaves a remarkable legacy given his extraordinary scientific accomplishments, presence as a leader in the geographic science community, and impact on individual geographic scientists inside USGS and around the world.”

It’s a challenge to specify the impact that Lynn has had on the field of GIScience because of the breadth and depth of his involvement and contributions. He was centrally involved in many areas of the discipline, including cartography, GIS, remote sensing, and spatial analysis. His eclectic research interests included digital cartography, map projections, scale and resolution, image classification, temporal GIS, geospatial semantics and ontology, and high-performance computing for geospatial data. It would be difficult to name a subject in the field about which Lynn could not speak knowledgeably and insightfully.

Lynn was unique in that his impact came through his careers in both government and academia. Lynn started working for the USGS in 1977. He was a cartographer and geographer for the USGS from 1978 to 1988 focusing on developing automated cartographic production systems. In 1988, he took on a geography faculty position at the University of Wisconsin (UW) – Madison. In January of 1994, he moved to Georgia to serve on the geography faculty at the University of Georgia (UGA). In May of 1999, Lynn took on a Research Geographer position with the USGS in addition to his academic job at UGA. In 2005, he returned to USGS and ultimately conceived and became Director of CEGIS. In this role, he directed the science program and the visions and plans for topographic mapping research. While at USGS, Lynn also taught remote sensing at the Missouri University of Science and Technology.

In all his positions, Lynn was a ground breaker. In his early days at USGS, he began the development of digital mapping systems for the automated production of printed topographic maps. At UW, he helped found a GIS program. At UGA, he helped establish certificate programs in GIScience at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. When he returned to USGS, he started a cartography research program that led to CEGIS.

Lynn was active in several professional societies including the AAG, the Cartography and Geographic Information Society (CaGIS) where he served as president from 2002 to 2004 and chaired AutoCarto 2005, 2006, and 2010, and the International Cartographic Association (ICA) where he spearheaded the effort to bring the International Cartographic Conference back to the United States for only the second time. He was also presented with the CaGIS Distinguished Career Award in 2012.

On a personal note, Lynn was born in December 1951. He had two children, a son Kelynn, born 1986, and a daughter, Lacy, born 1988. Lynn received his BS in geography from the University of Alabama and MA and Ph.D. degrees in geography from UGA.

On an even more personal note, I first met Lynn when, as a lowly master’s student, I invited him to give a presentation at Indiana University using funding from the American Association of Geographers’ Visiting Geographical Scientist Program (VGSP). To me, Lynn was already a GIS giant. I placed him on a proverbial pedestal, but he wouldn’t stay put. He treated me as an equal, though I didn’t feel that was deserved. And throughout the remainder of our association, he continued to do the same. He also did that with everyone else I saw him interact with. He was truly a giant, but he interacted with people on the same level, not by bringing himself down to their level, but by elevating them to his. He will truly be missed.


By Aileen Buckley

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William B. Kory

With a very heavy heart, we announce that Dr. William B. Kory, professor emeritus of geography at the University of Pittsburgh–Johnstown, passed away on Saturday, April 2, 2022 in his Florida home. Our dear friend, colleague, and mentor had been diagnosed with leukemia. He retired only last year, and we are grateful for his more than half-century of service to the discipline and his 83 years of joyful life.

Dr. Kory was unrelentingly committed to his students’ success at Pitt-Johnstown. He joined the campus as an instructor in 1971, only two years into his doctoral training at the University of Pittsburgh, where he specialized in demography and geopolitics. When the Department of Geography in Pittsburgh disbanded like so many others during the 1980s, Dr. Kory reestablished the University’s undergraduate major in Johnstown. He also believed a global education was crucial for even the most practical vocations. His experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in Liberia, as a Fulbright Scholar in Egypt, and as a Russian speaker since birth, all informed his educational mission. As more employers sought geospatial specialists, Dr. Kory chaired the initiative to establish a GIS certificate program. Dr. Kory had generous office hours – when he taught, he kept the door ajar for students – and he’d encourage students to chat with him for hours between classes. Even if one of his buddies in the state legislature or local chamber of commerce stopped by on business, Dr. Kory would make a personal introduction and insist with a welcoming grin that his students kept their seats around the desk. He wanted students to participate in all aspects of campus and the Johnstown community.

Photo of William B Kory with some of his studentsThroughout his tenure at Pitt-Johnstown, Dr. Kory made a home for students in the Geography Club. His office was filled with scrapbooks spanning five decades of raffle-ticket fundraisers, environmental field trips and creek clean-ups, conferences with the Pennsylvania Geographical Society (PGS), and the seemingly thousands of photographs students sent him after they graduated. The club met monthly at Bigdogz Grill, his favorite dive, for a Coors yellowbelly and ham sandwich. Every new internship and conference paper got a toast. Under Dr. Kory’s leadership and individual generosity, the Geography Club financed undergraduate travel to the AAG in New York, Tampa, and Washington, D.C., among many other national meetings. He also brought guest lecturers like his friend Harm de Blij to campus and hosted a week-long program of speakers for every Geography Awareness Week. At the annual department banquet or bi-annual induction ceremony to Gamma Theta Upsilon, Dr. Kory gave out a half-dozen prizes for student success, including the beloved “K” Award. Above almost anything else, Dr. Kory believed in his students, and he created opportunities to support and celebrate everybody in the department.

In his own words, one of Dr. Kory’s proudest achievements was that he had sent 200 students to graduate schools during his time at Pitt-Johnstown. Further, he was always quick to add that all his students that had attended graduate schools were successful completing their degrees. “Some may have found Jesus or a wife, and dropped out of school, but no one ever failed,” he would often say. Dozens of universities where he helped send students to graduate schools were highlighted on a customized map Dr. Kory proudly displayed from his office door. Dr. Kory used his numerous connections to tirelessly work for funding packages for all his students interested in attending graduate school. This achievement, too, should not be overshadowed as he made the process navigable and achievable for so many. He was part of the graduate school process for his students every step of the way. Dr. Kory would follow-up with his students during their graduate studies offering support and encouragement. Graduate school has the potential to change one’s life course, and he is personally responsible for changing the lives of many in a significant way.

Dr. Kory instilled the fiercest confidence in his students. He believed in his students’ potential,  sometimes before they believed in themselves, and that is a remarkable and truly special value he held. Dr. Kory had a unique talent of making his students feel valued and recognized. He bragged about his current and former students as often as he was able, and he considered the Pitt-Johnstown Geography Department his family. Dr. Kory and his wife, Mary Ann, would welcome students and colleagues into their home for meals and friendship. For those of us lucky enough to know Dr. Kory, we felt his love and support every step of the way in our personal and professional accomplishments.

Dr. Kory’s professional contribution primarily lay in his dedication to the Pennsylvania Geographical Society. He was an active member of the organization for much of his academic life. In fact, he received PGS’s lifetime achievement award last year, in recognition of his retirement. It is hard to imagine an award that was more appropriate. In particular, his “baby” was the society’s journal, The Pennsylvania Geographer, which he was instrumental in guiding to become a peer-reviewed journal. Dr. Kory tirelessly devoted much of his time to the editorial duties.

Not only was Dr. Kory a cheerleader for his students, but also an effective department head. His enthusiasm in the classroom meant that there were always students who wanted to major in geography. For a small undergraduate department, that’s our bread and butter. The tight-knit environment that Dr. Kory created meant that Pitt-Johnstown geography was a place that faculty wanted to stay. While there may be more prestigious institutions elsewhere, our geography faculty learned this truism first-hand: the grass is not greener on the other side. In fact, some left the department only to return a few years later, missing the collegiality at Pitt-Johnstown.

The impact of Dr. Kory’s efforts to lead, promote geography, and educate and enrich his students radiates far beyond Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Throughout his career Dr. Kory built a department, coalition of graduate students, and a family that stretches around the world. He is fondly remembered for immeasurable dedication to the discipline of geography, his colleagues, and his students’ success and happiness.


Compiled by:

Jacob R. Wolff, Ph.D. student, Temple University

J.T. Bandzuh, Ph.D. candidate, Florida State University; Instructor, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown

Ola Johansson, Professor of Geography, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown

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Newsletter – March-April 2022

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PRESIDENT’S COLUMN

Do Look Up

By Emily Yeh

The 2020 Cameron Peak Fire in Colorado, the largest wildfire in the state’s history. Credit: Phil Millette, National Interagency Fire Center

In a recent review of Don’t Look Up, the terrifyingly close-to-home satire of collective inaction on global warming, Pablo Ortiz of the Union of Concerned Scientists suggests that one form of “looking up” is to write and share about how climate change is affecting you, as a means of building a larger movement… taking Ortiz’s advice, I begin here by briefly describing one way climate change is affecting the place I live.


ANNUAL MEETING

AAG 2023 Denver Postcard - Bird's eye view of Denver, Colorado, 1908 vintage mapSave the Date for AAG 2023 in Denver

Join us for the Mile-High meeting. Mark your calendar for the hybrid AAG Annual Meeting in Denver, CO on March 23-27, 2023. We invite you to organize and participate in sessions, workshops, field trips, special events, and activities. Look for more information throughout the summer to help you plan. We look forward to seeing you online and in the Rocky Mountains.


PUBLICATIONS

NEW Annals of the American Association of Geographers Issue Alert: The 2022 Special Issue of the Annals on Displacements

Annals journal coverThe Annals publishes a special issue each year to highlight research around a specific theme of global importance. The contains 26 articles on the topic of Displacements and is guest edited by Kendra Strauss. The articles are divided into five sections: Theorizing Displacements; Understanding Experiences of Displacement: Concepts, Methodologies, and Data; Urbanization and Infrastructures; Bringing in the State; and Politics and Praxis. The 2022 Special Issue on “Displacements” explores how, building on our history of critical engagement with place, geographers from across the discipline can contribute empirical, theoretical, and methodological insights on displacements and their implications. Contributions addressing displacements through multi- and -inter-disciplinary engagements with geographical theory and methods are from a broad range of perspectives, locations, and historical and contemporary contexts.

All AAG members have full online access to all issues of the Annals through the Journals section of the . Read more about the Annals Special Issue .

Questions about the Annals? Contact .

NEW The Professional Geographer Issue Alert: Articles with topics ranging from pedestrian access to K-12 schools to Finnish sauna diplomacy

The Professional Geographer Cover FlatThe latest issue of The Professional Geographer is now available () with 10 new research articles plus a six article focus on . Article topics include ; ; ; ; ; ; ; and . Study areas include ; ; and . Authors are from a variety of global institutions including: ; ; ; and .

All AAG members have full online access to all issues of The Professional Geographer through their member dashboard. Each issue, the editors choose one article to make freely available. In this issue you can read by Matthew R. Lehnerta and Seth Alan Williams for free.

Questions about The Professional Geographer? Contact .

NEW Issue of The AAG Review of Books Published

Review-of-Books-Cover

The latest issue of The AAG Review of Books is now available () with 7 book reviews on recent books related to geography, public policy and international affairs. The new issue also includes a film review of the documentary Holding Tightly: Custom and Healing in Timor-Leste and two book review fora. 2022 marks the ten-year anniversary of The AAG Review of Books and this issue includes from current editor Debbie Hopkins.

Questions about The AAG Review of Books? Contact .

In addition to the most recently published journal, read the latest issue of the other AAG journals online:

• Annals of the American Association of Geographers
• The Professional Geographer
• GeoHumanities
• The AAG Review of Books


ASSOCIATION NEWS

Support the AAG Student Travel Fund — Make a Difference in the Life of a Young Geographer

One of AAG’s top fund-raising priorities for 2022 will be the AAG Student Travel Fund. We will launch this fund-raising effort in the coming days via email.

As we all realize, nothing can take the place of the meeting experience. It’s so valuable to presenting your research, networking, and connecting with colleagues. With the pandemic behind us, and the annual meeting now transformed into a hybrid (in-person with some virtual presenters) and virtual experience, we need to support our students. They have patiently waited to return to the new normal and now are faced with rising travel costs and diminished conference budgets that may make attending the 2023 AAG Annual Meeting challenging.

Our goal is to support at least 100 students and to offer enrichment awards of up to $500 to support their travel and/or participation as a hybrid or virtual attendee. .

Have Your Department or Program Featured in Recruitment Video

A World of Possibilities video still showing an illustration of a map of North America with network lines hovering overLast fall, AAG worked with Green Jay Strategies to produce the “” video, designed to be used to recruit students into geography programs. Many programs took advantage of our offer to customize the video with your logo and contact information, so we are extending that offer again this year. To see an example of how your information will be featured in the video, .

Getting your customized copy is especially valuable this year, as AAG’s 2022 Geography Awareness Week theme will be tied to the video. If you would like to get a version featuring information for your program, please send an email to and include your approved logo, department/program name, contact person, contact website, contact email, and contact phone number. Please also include the email address where you would like the final video sent.

Please submit all requests by May 20. The final video will be emailed back to you in early June.

The video is aimed at students who are early in their process of discovering a geography degree and considers the research of Dr. Justin Stoler (University of Miami) on the understanding and preferences of undergraduate students. We would like to again thank AAG members Dr. Debarchana Ghosh, Dr. Deborah Thomas, Dr. Jacqueline Housel, Dr. Jason Post, Dr. Justin Stoler, and Dr. Wan Yu for their roles in helping shape this video and the AAG COVID-19 Response subcommittee for proposing this project.

Spots Available in AAG’s New Expanded Professional Development Webinar Series

Photo of African American woman participating in an online program on her laptop while taking notesHave you signed up for one of our Professional Development Webinar Series yet? Whether you’re a student, recent graduate, job seeker, department head, or a career geography professional, AAG has an event that is right for you.

Our coming webinars include:

. Hear from geographers who have successfully utilized their degrees to launch careers in these sought-after fields.

. Explore ways geographers are influencing policy and aiding social movements.

. Hear from geographers carving out career paths with a focal point outside of GIS or GIS-related experience.

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Registration Open for Summer Series for Grad Students and Recent Graduates

Photo of African American student writing notes in notebook with book and laptop at a cafe tableThe AAG 2022 Virtual Summer Series is back. Sign-ups are open for our Graduate Forums and Seminars, which will continue throughout the summer.

Our are led by the AAG Graduate Student Affinity Group and will offer graduate students with sessions that enable them to network and feel a sense of community.

Our target Master’s or Doctoral students in Geography programs and recently graduated geographers, and cover a wide range of practical topics.

Take Part in the AAG’s Graduate Faculty Development Alliance Workshops, June 13-17

Participants of the 2008 GFDA workshop gather for a photoTwo summer professional development workshops from the AAG’s Graduate Faculty Development Alliance will continue online in 2022. Registration will be filled on a first come, first served basis and is free for AAG Members and $150 for non-members.

Department Chairs, Heads, new Deans, and other emerging leaders — develop the tools you need to do your job, network with peers, and learn from top leadership professionals in an inclusive, innovative, and interactive series.

The AAG Geography Faculty Development Alliance for early career geographers, as well as non-AAG members who are graduate students or teaching geography in higher education, offers an innovative, new online approach to the highly successful early career workshops that have been offered since 2002.

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Member News

May Member Updates

Dr. Andrew Sluyter, Professor of Geography at Louisiana State University, has received a highly prestigious . The foundation awarded 28 fellowships from 300 extraordinary scholars nominated by the leaders of select universities and other preeminent institutions. Each fellow receives $200,000 over two years to support visionary scholarship on important and enduring issues confronting our society.

Two geographers have been named to the 2022 class of Guggenheim Fellows. Karen Bakker, a Professor in the Department of Geography at The University of British Columbia, is the producer of “” an edited volume exploring perspectives on Indigenous water law, bringing together voices of Indigenous scholars and community members from across Canada. Geoff Mann, Professor of Geography and Director of the Centre for Global Political Economy at Simon Fraser University, has an interest in all aspects of politics and the political economy of capitalism. .

Dr. Mandy Munro-Stasiuk has been appointed as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Kent State University. Munro-Stasiuk is the first women to hold the position. With degrees in geography, archaeology, and earth and atmospheric sciences as well as research experience in geomorphology and genocide, Munro-Stasiuk believes her background uniquely positions her to understand the needs of the college’s departments in humanities, social sciences, and sciences. The announcement was made during Women’s History Month. .

Dr. Farhana Sultana has been promoted to Full Professor in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. This promotion marks the first time a woman of color has been promoted to Full Professor in the department’s 80-year history and the second time any woman has reach this rank.


RESOURCES AND OPPORTUNITIES

Virtual Launch of You Are Here’s 2022 Issue: Queer Ecologies!

Participate in the virtual launch of the 2022 issue of you are here: the journal of creative geography. yah is a graduate student-run journal housed at the University of Arizona that explores intersection of art and geography. On May 27th at 11am Pacific Time, yah will be gathering on zoom to celebrate the new issue: queer ecologies! Contributors from the issue will be sharing their poetry, visual art, performance, films, etc., and more generally musing on the topics of queer ecologies and creative geographies. For sneak peeks at the issue, follow us at @youarehereUA on Instagram and Twitter.

Kauffman Foundation 2022 Central Standards RFP and 2021 Indicators of Early-Stage Entrepreneurship Report Released, Upcoming Events

Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is AAG 2022's gold sponsorThe Kauffman Foundation’s 2022 Central Standards Request for Proposals (RFP) is open for applications. The RFP focuses on supporting entrepreneurship support organizations in Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas, providing funds to encourage and accelerate collaborations between two or more entrepreneurship support organizations working together. Proposals will be accepted until May 20. Learn more about the 2022 Central Standards RFP .

The recently released 2021 Kauffman Indicators of Early-Stage Entrepreneurship (KESE) national report highlights data from the past year, providing a look at trends surrounding the rate of new entrepreneurship and the opportunity share of new entrepreneurs. to learn more about the latest data, including statistics on specific demographic groups.

The next virtual Early-Stage Researcher Professional Development session will take place on Friday, May 20 at 1 p.m. CT with mentor Jerome Katz at Saint Louis University. This session is open to 25 early-stage researchers.

May 26th 10 AM CT is the next Entrepreneurship Issues forum: Gig Work and Entrepreneurship. Gig work has received increasing attention in recent years, particularly with the rise of digital platforms. From Uber drivers to Upwork’s “independent professionals,” there is no shortage of platforms enabling individuals and businesses to get services and talent on demand. What does the proliferation of digital platforms — and gig work more broadly — mean for entrepreneurship? This forum will explore the landscape of gig work in the U.S., the various types of gig work people engage in, the relationship between gig work and entrepreneurship, and what this all means for policy and practice.

Call for Participants – Research Study on Scholarly Activity

Tenured/tenure-track faculty members at U.S. college or university, are invited to participate in an online survey about how your research is evaluated by other faculty in your department. Your participation will help to better understand how research evaluation experiences vary by academic field, research area, and researcher demographics, and how these experiences affect faculty career outcomes.

The survey will take approximately 20-25 minutes to complete and you will receive a $20 Amazon gift card for your participation.

If you are willing to participate, please start by complete a brief to determine if you are eligible to participate.


In Memoriam

Photo of J Ronald EytonJ. Ronald Eyton passed away on March 14, 2022. His death, in a hospital in Vancouver, BC, following a sudden illness was unexpected. After a variety of academic appointments at the Assistant (University of Illinois, University of South Carolina) and Associate (Penn State University, University of Alberta) Professor level, Ron moved to Texas State University in 1995. Ron was an important member of the Geography team which resulted in the Department of Geography being awarded the first doctoral program at Texas State University. .

Photo of Lynn UseryDr. Lynn Usery passed from this earthly plane on March 22, 2022 following a brief illness. He will be sorely missed by the geography community, not only for his many research contributions, leadership and vision, and tireless service, but also for his friendship and camaraderie. Michael Tischler of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) wrote, “On paper, we knew him as the Director of the Center of Excellence for Geographic Information Science [CEGIS]. But he was far more than that title would lead one to believe. Lynn leaves a remarkable legacy given his extraordinary scientific accomplishments, presence as a leader in the geographic science community, and impact on individual geographic scientists inside USGS and around the world.” .

Photo of William B KoryDr. William B. Kory, professor emeritus of geography at the University of Pittsburgh–Johnstown, passed away on Saturday, April 2, 2022 in his Florida home. Dr. Kory was unrelentingly committed to his students’ success at Pitt-Johnstown. When the Department of Geography in Pittsburgh disbanded like so many others during the 1980s, Dr. Kory reestablished the University’s undergraduate major in Johnstown. He was also an active member of the Pennsylvania Geographical Society and devoted significant time to editorial duties at The Pennsylvania Geographer. .


Featured Articles

The Mapmaker’s Mantra

Photo of hand holding a compass; credit Garrett Sears, unsplash.comBy Aileen Buckley, Allen Carroll, and Clint Brown

Maps are widely regarded as objective and authoritative sources of information. Over the past decade, news and other information sources have often been distorted on social media, eroding their authority. It’s our hope that we can help avoid a similar erosion of cartographic credibility by drafting this “Mapmaker’s Mantra.”

The Mantra is not a code of ethics for cartography. It focuses solely on mapmaking, not the many other facets of cartography. It aims at the making of maps that convey authoritative information, not maps for advertisements, propaganda, and the like. Its goal is to preserve the authority of maps by reminding the mapmaking community of their ethical and moral responsibility to tell the truth with maps.


GEOGRAPHERS IN THE NEWS

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Submit News to the AAG Newsletter. To share your news, email us!

 

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War, Peace, and the Possibilities of a Shared Future

The 2020 Cameron Peak Fire in Colorado, the largest wildfire in the state’s history. Credit: Phil Millette, National Interagency Fire Center
The 2020 Cameron Peak Fire in Colorado, the largest wildfire in the state’s history. Credit: Phil Millette, National Interagency Fire Center

In a recent review of Don’t Look Up, the terrifyingly close-to-home satire of collective inaction on global warming, Pablo Ortiz of the Union of Concerned Scientists suggests that one form of “looking up” is to write and share about how climate change is affecting you, as a means of building a larger movement. Granted, this suggestion is pretty tame when some climate scientists are taking direct action, such as chaining themselves to the White House fence after the release of the most recent IPCC report (one Facebook commentator quipped, “Remember when climate scientists were content to do research, publish papers, and issue dire warnings?”). Yet, taking Ortiz’s advice, I begin here by briefly describing one way climate change is affecting the place I live.  

Fire season in Colorado used to be the summer. Not anymore. In fact, there is no longer really a fire season; the landscape burns destructively year-round. On December 30, a once-unthinkable winter grassland fire destroyed more than 1000 houses and caused 1 billion USD in insured losses, just south of my neighborhood in Boulder, Colorado. Just three months later, another wildfire led to the mandatory evacuation of 19,000 people living in 8000 homes, including mine. That was March 26. On April 7, as I was heading home from the office, I received a message from my sixth-grade son, “another fire!” This one was very close to the March 26 fire, which was still burning. On April 19, there were four separate fires burning in Boulder County, leading to more evacuations. Half of the state’s 20 largest wildfires have happened since 2018. A new sense of dread now seeps through the pores of everyday life, deepening the enduring exhaustion of the pandemic.   

I want to acknowledge here that crisis narratives about climate change have been critiqued by Indigenous scholars. Even though many of us are experiencing climate change as an unprecedented emergency, Indigenous peoples have already faced climate change in the form of territorial dispossession and displacement to new ecosystems and climates. Moreover, as Potawatomi environmental justice scholar Kyle Whyte reminds us, colonialism has long used perceived and real crises to defend unjust actions. He argues for an epistemology of coordination rather than crisis, one based on the importance of moral bonds or kinship relationships, as necessary for responding to change without further justifying violence. With these cautions in mind, though, I wonder if it isn’t still necessary to treat climate change as a crisis when it comes to the capitalist status quo of corporate profits and the discursive formation that makes us think there is no alternative.  

* * * * * 

This spring, several colleagues and I embarked on a modest effort to “look up,” in the form of authoring a faculty resolution calling on TIAA to divest from the climate crisis and reinvest in climate justice. Through TIAA-Divest!, an organization that works with faculty, staff and students to encourage TIAA to become a more responsible investor, we learned that even though TIAA represents itself as a “leader in responsible investing” and states that “climate change poses long-term risks to investments,” it invests at least 16 billion dollars in fossil fuel stocks, across 77 equity funds. Furthermore, the Brazilian federal land agency and a Brazilian state court found TIAA (and Harvard University’s endowment fund) to have violated foreign land ownership law in its acquisition of half a million acres of farmland, working through opaque corporate structures and shell companies. Though TIAA maintains that it was in compliance with the law, these investments have clearly aided land grabs from peasants and indigenous peoples, and contributed to deforestation and thus climate change.

In the US, TIAA directly financed 35% of the construction costs of Cricket Valley Energy, a fracked natural gas-powered electric generation station in Dover New York, in an economically disadvantaged community adjacent to one of the Northeast’s largest freshwater wetlands. This fracking operation drew protests across New York state. Even the company’s “social choice low carbon equity fund” is 3.17% invested in the oil and gas industry, and 12% invested in deforestation-risk companies across 25 holdings. The list of problems goes on. TIAA is hardly alone: Vanguard has a slightly higher percentage but an order of magnitude more fossil fuel investments. But we opted to focus on TIAA because it is the leading provider of financial services in higher education, and the only administrator of retirement funds available to faculty at my institution, as well as having a reputation as a company committed to social and environmental responsibility.  

Divestment is not uncontroversial. Geographers and other researchers have shown that ESG (environmental, social, and governance) investing often amounts to little more than greenwashing, because of its unregulated nature and loose standards, as evidenced by wildly divergent ratings between different ESG rating agencies. The ESG movement is also partly resulting in what geographer Brett Christophers has called the “full-fledged romance between the fossil-fuel economy and private equity.” over the past decade. This is concerning given that private equity is far less accountable or transparent than public companies. More broadly, focusing only on ESG investment furthers capitalist logics of privatization and financialization. Big asset managers reap the benefits when they push governments to de-risk the clean energy transition for their private investments. This diverts resources from what is actually desperately needed for a just transition: public investment. None of this excellent critical work suggests, however, that divestment itself is the problem. When accompanied by calls for greater government regulation of investors and demands for public finance of the infrastructure necessary for an equitable low-carbon economic transition, divestment sends a much stronger message about the status quo than any dialogue that investors might have with corporate boards.  

These arguments for public investment were, however, not the objections that our modest resolution on TIAA encountered. The most vigorous opposition came from a business school faculty member who insisted, “divestment doesn’t work” because there will always be someone who does not care about climate change and who will thus buy divested stocks divested at a low price, and then make a profit when those same stocks inevitably increase in value. The CEOs of those companies themselves might also play this gambit through stock options. Thus, the reasoning goes, we have only rewarded those who we wished to punish. This argument is both a red herring, because financial investors and CEOs are always trying to make a profit, and provides further evidence that regulation, of both fossil fuel emissions and markets, is needed. 

When I asked what he thought those who cared about unfolding climate disasters should do instead of divestment, our colleague’s response was the pinnacle of neoliberalism: “Try to get other consumers to stop using fossil fuels.” The conviction that atomized individual consumers are the only possible source of change ignores the fundamental ways in which fossil fuels are embedded in our infrastructure, housing, and culture– unsurprising, since as geographer Matt Huber has argued, the history of American oil consumption has itself been central to the rise of neoliberalism in this country. Our business school critic also insisted that divestment is not justified by either volatile short-term fossil fuel equity prices or the impending stranded assets of fossil fuel corporations, since short term performance is meaningless and in the long run, we are all dead (no business retains value forever). Thus, a portfolio that eliminated fossil fuels is, by this definition, inferior since any constraint on investment is inevitably second-best. Presumably, this logic would also justify investing in industries that employ slave labor.  

We argued back with the work of geographers and other scholars on multiple fronts. We quoted Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry of the Future: “What’s the monetary value of human civilization? Trying to answer that question proves you are a moral and practical idiot.” I’m happy to report that through appeals to our campus leaders’ stated commitment to addressing climate change, the campus’ “reputational brand” for climate change research (one of the few arguments that spoke to the economists), the injustices of climate change, and our duties as educators, our resolution ultimately passed. Next, we are sending it to TIAA’s CEO and Board of Governors. 

* * * * * 

Research and science alone are not enough to make change. Organizing is always necessary, as we can see in both the TIAA effort and the direct action some climate scientists are now engaging in. It’s clear as well that we need government action — for example, for robust and convenient high-speed electrified rail infrastructure that would allow us to gather in low-carbon ways for scholarly exchange and networking; hopefully, more geographers will become involved in organized policy advocacy in this realm. Lastly, I am keenly aware of the contradiction between the focus of this column and the fact that the in-person component of the 2024 hybrid AAG annual meeting is scheduled to take place in Hawaii, a costly travel destination in terms of both dollars and carbon. This conference location was chosen many years ago and legal structures (of hotel contracts) preclude change. Can a significant number of geographers adopt an epistemology of coordination, perhaps in the form of many local, relationship-building nodes, as an alternative to carbon-costly air travel? Will we look up?

DOI: 10.14433/2017.0109


Please note: The ideas expressed in the AAG President’s column are not necessarily the views of the AAG as a whole. This column is traditionally a space in which the president may talk about their views or focus during their tenure as president of AAG, or spotlight their areas of professional work. Please feel free to email the president directly at emily [dot] yeh [at] colorado [dot] edu to enable a constructive discussion. 

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Petition of Support for Ukraine and Those Impacted by Russia’s Military Action

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Strengthening the Bridge Across the Digital Divide 

AAG Reflects on Impacts of the Initiative, Announces New Recipients

For a small tribal college in northern Michigan, lacking basic resources for students was a regular issue, even under normal circumstances. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, it was only exacerbated.

“When the pandemic began and we had to transition to online curriculum, the only way for our students to succeed was to provide them with laptop computers that they could take home,” says Andrew Kozich, Environmental Science Department Chair at Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College (KBOCC).

This problem, however, was not limited to the students at KBOCC. Many Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) geography students across the country were left without access to the computers, internet, or software they needed to complete their coursework remotely, as distance learning became the new normal. In response, AAG’s COVID-19 Rapid Response Task Force created the Bridging the Digital Divide (BDD) program in mid-2020. Its purpose was to provide BIPOC geography students at minority-serving institutions (MSIs) with technology for virtual learning due to COVID’s disruption.

BDD distributed $238,000, with an additional $50,000 contribution from Esri and $10,280 from AAG members, to 23 MSIs in its first year. The funding provided quick relief to geography educators to put tools such as laptops and software directly into their students’ hands.

In Michigan, KBOCC students now had the resources that their small community, high in unemployment and low in income, had previously lacked. Andrew Kozich continues, “…thanks to the AAG funding, we were able to ensure that every Environmental Science major had a new computer and could continue their coursework from home.” These resources were significant in not only retaining students in geography-related programs, but in engaging them in coursework and in recruitment for the following academic year. KBOCC saw an increase in Environmental Studies enrollment thanks to the now-available digital resources.

This success is mirrored elsewhere. Quinette Otter, a student at United Tribes Technical College who received a laptop through BDD, said, “I will be forever grateful for this gift.  This semester my children and I were 100% virtual and sharing one computer.  It was a struggle. There were many days that I was unable to attend classes because it overlapped with their classes. This is a lifesaver and will ensure I can be in class every day.”

Other geography instructors used BDD funding to maintain communication and classroom experiences with their students when in-person office hours and in-person teaching were no longer offered. One instructor invested in a screen and projector to channel a traditional classroom setting and alleviate the virtual nature of the new virtual reality. A common thread in BDD’s first year was how substantial the impact of the funding was, contributing essential elements in MSI geography programs’ work to retain, engage, and recruit both current and future students.

 

Geography students at North Carolina Central University use tablets and virtual headsets funded by the AGG Bridging the Digital Divide program to interact with augmented reality models of the Earth system and go on virtual reality field trips. Photo credit: Gordana Vlahovic
Geography students at North Carolina Central University use tablets and virtual headsets funded by the AGG Bridging the Digital Divide program to interact with augmented reality models of the Earth system and go on virtual reality field trips. Photo credit: Gordana Vlahovic

 

Recipients and Expanded Scope in 2022

In 2022, AAG provided a second round of funding of $238,000 toward the future of the next generation of BIPOC geographers. Year One of the program highlighted other areas in which BDD’s funds could be allocated, in addition to digital resources.

We’re excited to announce that in 2022, 22 MSIs and related faculty have been approved to apply funds towards not just digital resources but non-digital expenditure as well such as student scholarships, fieldwork transportation fees, stipends for external guest lecturers, and other uses that educators see fit to help strengthen their programs and support their students.

AAG seeks to bridge the distance between BIPOC geography students and success through equitable access to equipment, tools, and other educational resources. By refining BDD into a program that is reflective of each individual institution’s specific needs, we hope to better serve this group of students that have faced long-standing systemic inequities. We know that the results will last far longer than COVID’s temporary, distance-induced environment.

In addition to Bridging the Digital Divide, several of AAG’s projects and initiatives are designed to have a positive impact on attracting and attaining students of color to the discipline of geography. Here is a sampling of programs and approaches AAG is undertaking right now:

  • The new online Guide to Geography Programs Map contains an MSI filter, which allows users to see all MSIs in the United States that offer geography courses, programs, and degrees.
  • Community colleges are essential for the growth of geography programs and retention of geography students. Through Healthy Departments, the AAG is working with community college instructors to facilitate change in community college perception, provide resources for community college students and instructors, and highlight the contributions of community college geographers to the broader discipline.

Learn more about AAG’s new framework and plan for diversity, equity, and inclusion.

DOI: doi.org/10.14433/2017.0107

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AAG Announces 2021 Book Awards 

The AAG is pleased to announce the recipients of the three 2021 AAG Book Awards: the John Brinckerhoff Jackson Prize, the AAG Globe Book Award for Public Understanding of Geography, and the AAG Meridian Book Award for Outstanding Scholarly Work in Geography. The AAG Book Awards mark distinguished and outstanding works published by geography authors during the previous year, 2021. The awardees will be formally recognized at a future event when it is safe to do so. 

The John Brinckerhoff Jackson Prize

This award encourages and rewards American geographers who write books about the United States which convey the insights of professional geography in language that is both interesting and attractive to lay readers. 

Profiting from the Peak book coverJohn Harner, Profiting from the Peak: Landscape and Liberty in Colorado Springs

(University Press of Colorado, 2021) 

John Harner’s Profiting from the Peak: Landscape and Liberty in Colorado Springs triumphs as an accessibly written, wonderfully illustrated historical geography of a distinctive American place. Dedicated to Peirce Lewis, the book explores how Colorado Springs profited from its singular physical setting as well as its highly distinctive cultural evolution. Laced with dozens of grayscale and color maps and photographs, Harner brings to life a landscape shaped by various forces which are engagingly summarized in nine thematic chapters. 

Harner describes the shaping power of Grass, Water, Air, Metal, Rock, Fun, War, Liberty, and God as he crafts his historical narrative, taking us from Native hunters on the short-grass plains to twenty-first century evangelists who envision the place as a Front-Range crucible of conservative politics. Harner concludes this lovingly crafted and beautifully designed book by arguing that the Springs’ special sense of place derives from its physical setting, its vibrant downtown, and from the unique cultural values of its population. 

The AAG is pleased to recognize John Harner with the 2021 John Brinckerhoff Jackson Prize.


The AAG Globe Book Award for Public Understanding of Geography

This award is given for a book written or co-authored by a geographer that conveys most powerfully the nature and importance of geography to the non-academic world. 

Atlas of the Invisible book coverJames Cheshire and Oliver Uberti, Atlas of the Invisible

(W.W. Norton & Company, 2021) 

James Cheshire and Oliver Uberti’s Atlas of the Invisible is a stunning collection of maps and visualizations that tells the stories of our past, present, and future – turning massive datasets into inviting, intriguing, and sometimes disturbing presentations for both geographers and a broader audience. The volume displays the expertise of Cheshire in geographic data analysis and Uberti in cartography, addressing a wide range of topics from historical geography and climate change to geopolitics and social justice. Compelling essays explore myriad ideas and debates in the discipline: the history of mapping from Alexander von Humboldt to GIS, the power of mapping from redlining and gentrification to lead poisoning and air quality, the ethics and use of mobile phone data – even the role of data and mapping in a crisis as the approaching pandemic turned the abstract and invisible into the present and deadly. 

This is a book that geographers everywhere will recommend to non-geographers with pride. The authors hope that their work will move us from being simply spectators: “We hope that at least one of our stories will have inspired you to act.” Little doubt of that, and little surprise that this volume is scheduled for translation into nine languages. A far broader audience will become happily lost in what Cheshire and Uberti have found.


The AAG Meridian Book Award for Outstanding Scholarly Work in Geography

This award is given for a book written by a geographer that makes an unusually important contribution to advancing the science and art of geography.  

Dear Science and Other Stories book coverKatherine McKittrick, Dear Science and Other Stories

(Duke University Press, 2021) 

Dr. Katherine McKittrick’s Dear Science and Other Stories is the recipient of the 2021 American Association of Geographers’ Meridian Book Award, which recognizes a book published in the past year that makes an unusually important contribution to advancing the art and science of geography. 

Dear Science presents incredibly rich conceptual and methodological contributions for researchers in human geography and beyond. This innovative book traces how multiple forms of Black scholarship, art, and indeed, Black life, move through and beyond the straits of knowledge systems co-constituted with and emergent from white supremacy. It compels the reader to contend with their own spatial praxis through a concerted meditation on metaphor and memory and advances current debates in geography by introducing insights from a broad range of archives and interdisciplinary voices. 

McKittrick’s writing on the forms of productive and destructive erasure that confront Black geographies will become necessary and likely transformative reading for scholars within and beyond the discipline. 

The AAG is pleased to recognize Katherine McKittrick with its 2021 Meridian Book Award. 

The 2021 AAG Meridian Book Award Honorable Mention 

Palm Oil Diaspora book coverCase Watkins, Palm Oil Diaspora: Afro-Brazilian Landscapes and Economies on Bahia’s Dendê Coast (Cambridge University Press, 2021) is an exemplary piece that is certain to withstand the test of time. The longstanding influence of the author’s academic lineage extending from Sauer to Parsons, Denevan, Turner, Doolittle, and Sluyter is evident in the work. Moreover, through the integration of previously uncovered evidence, this book offers new perspectives and raises questions concerning the impact of racism and colonial ways of knowing on academic scholarship. 

The Radical Bookstore book coverKimberley Kinder, The Radical Bookstore: Counterspace for Social Movements (University of Minnesota Press, 2021) presents a new paradigm emerging in American geographic thought that is oriented toward social justice. Splendidly written, The Radical Bookstore not only offers a glimpse behind the scenes of a unique type of establishment that seeks to bring voice to marginalized peoples and perspectives, but it also challenges scholars to explore social movements through the lens of constructive activism. 

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