The State of Geography: Patterns and Trends by Racial and Ethnic Identity

In December, AAG released the State of Geography report, which provides an overview of broad trends in degree conferral at the undergraduate and graduate levels, both within geography and in comparison with general trends in other social sciences and in academia overall.

Last month, we examined the data for trends and indicators in terms of gender identity. This month, we look at how well graduation trends are doing in terms of representation of students across racial and ethnic groups that have been historically excluded from geography. 

As President Marilyn Raphael noted in her February 2023 President’s column, “The [State of Geography] report confirms some of the concerns about our field’s lack of diversity, offers signs of change, and leaves us with important questions about the nature and constraints of the data,” which is drawn from the National Center for Education Statistics, Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) codes.  

In the report and this article, AAG is using the term “historically excluded populations” to designate the students in these categories. American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, Hispanic or Latinx, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, Student Visa Holder, Race/Ethnicity unknown, and Two or More Races. We also used the term to follow the practice of AAG’s JEDI committee, which uses the term intersectionally, acknowledging that multiple modes of discrimination can combine (e.g. racism, sexism, ableism, classism), and describing the persistent barriers of the discipline, be they formal or perceived:  

“Geography is not perceived as a welcoming discipline for women, queer and trans people, oppressed racial/ethnic groups, and other individuals from historically excluded populations. There are several interconnected reasons for this. First, modern geography’s roots in white, Western, patriarchal, settler colonial, and cis-heteronormative understandings of the world mean that the discipline has long reflected and perpetuated systems of oppression. Second, there are systematic and structural barriers that limit the recruitment and retention of diverse faculty and students. Third, marginalized faculty and students do not necessarily see geography as relevant or reflective of their realities, and as a result, they do not see in it prospects for a well-defined, practical, and impactful career. Together, these elements create impressions of geography that range from antiquated to hostile. While these perceptions exist today, they should not mark geography’s future. Receptivity will only improve if we become intentional about embedding JEDI into standard practices within the AAG and the broader geography discipline.” [Source: AAG 3-Year Justice Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Plan, 2021] 

The State of Geography report is among AAG’s efforts to embed JEDI into standard practices within our organization and to encourage their adoption throughout the discipline. 

Signs of Promise  

Even as growth in overall degree conferrals has dropped in geography for roughly the past decade, the graduation rate of students in historically excluded populations has grown during the same time. In fact, during the past 25 years, the percentage of degree-earning geography students who are from historically excluded populations has more than doubled, from 14.8% in 1994-1995 to 36.4% in 2020-2021. The trend is most pronounced in graduate studies, particularly PhD programs. Our analysis included student visa holders among the categories because NCES counts them among the race and ethnicity categories they track. This group of students makes up a large proportion of students at the graduate levels, and themselves form a diverse cohort of many racialized identities within and beyond an American context, although it is hard to identify specific racial or ethnic groups in this category.  

At the bachelor’s degree level, the proportion of students in many racial or ethnic categories increased, with the greatest gains among students of more than one race and Latinx or Hispanic students. There was little growth in bachelor’s degree conferral among American Indian and Alaska Native students or Black/African American students.  

In fact, there appears to be almost no growth in bachelor’s degree conferrals for Black students since 2010. Given total growth, the percentage appears to be declining for percent growth of Black students, a phenomenon that adversely affects the number of Black PhD graduates and, consequently, Black geography faculty.   

Trends in Geography Bachelor’s Degrees Conferred by Race and Ethnicity 
Figure 22. Trends in Geography Bachelor’s Degrees Conferred by Race and Ethnicity


At the master’s and doctoral levels, U.S.-based diversity drops dramatically, while student visa holders become a significant proportion of degree recipients. The increase in student visa holders, proportional to other student groups, during the past decade suggests that international students–who often have quite different understandings and experiences of race—may be more attracted and welcomed to U.S. geography than U.S. students of color. 

There appears to be an inverse correlation between the level of degree and the diversity of the students pursuing the degree. Diversity is greatest at the undergraduate level, drops at the master’s level, and drops still further at the doctoral level. 

Figure 24: Trends in Geography Master’s Degrees by Race and Ethnicity


Figure 26: Trends in Geography Doctoral Degrees by Race and Ethnicity
Figures 24 and 26: Trends in Geography Master’s and Doctoral Degrees by Race and Ethnicity


How Geography Compares Among Disciplines 

Because geography is an interdisciplinary science, we compared student choices of major among several social science and physical science disciplines. As a graduate degree sought out by students from historically excluded populations, geography holds its own among the social sciences at the master’s level, with slightly better representation at the PhD level than most other social sciences (with the exception of economics). At the bachelor’s level, however, geography has a lower rate of representation among these students than most other social sciences, except for history. 

Geography fares similarly to other physical sciences in the amount of representation from historically excluded groups in bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and PhDs. Representation increases from bachelor’s to master’s to PhD. 

Overall, geography is behind virtually all other fields of study we examined across all degree types, in terms of racial and ethnic representation. From 1997 to 2019, Jordan et al. (2021) found that “geography [doctorates] consistently trailed the social sciences and the academy,” a gap that has been widening.  More than half of computer science degrees, to cite one example, are conferred on students from minoritized backgrounds—across all levels of degree. This indicator has relevance for GIS studies within geography: computer science and data analysis, perhaps data visualization, are a popular degree for students of many backgrounds, and GIS programs can leverage this popularity, combined with greater efforts to attract and retain students from diverse backgrounds. 

Detail from Figure 20. Minoritized students (in red), as an overall proportion of bachelor’s degrees in (L to R) geography, business management and related services, and computer science. The values rise from left to right.
Detail from Figure 20. Minoritized students (in red), as an overall proportion of bachelor’s degrees in (L to R) geography, business management and related services, and computer science.


Concluding Thoughts 

The growth in geography degrees among students from historically excluded populations is good news for the discipline: it is they who have contributed any new, positive growth to the field in recent years. That growth is nowhere near the levels needed for full, representative equity, however. While it offers a signpost to a more diverse geography, the overall lack of diversity is also a reminder that we must redouble our efforts. 

In developing the report, we encountered several unknowns, such as the “race/ethnicity unknown” category and the student visa category. As noted in our article on gender, qualitative information is also not available. Gaining qualitative insight is crucial because an increase in graduates from groups previously excluded does not mean that racial bias and inequality do not exist. Jordan et al. (2021) identify four drivers of inequity in doctorate programs: 

  1. lack of dedicated funding for underrepresented minority doctoral students,  
  2. minimal prior exposure to academic and professional geography,  
  3. passive recruitment strategies, and  
  4. pervasive whiteness of departments. 

[Exploring Persistent Racial and Ethnic Representation Disparity in U.S. Geography Doctoral Programs: The Disciplinary Underrepresentation Gap] 

In her 2002 article “Reflections on a White Discipline,” geographer Laura Pulido looks at her own experience as a student and faculty member of color within geography programs. Finding that “the study of race is both marginalized and fragmented within geography,” she ultimately moved from geography into a newly organized American studies program that acknowledged ethnicity and race. She writes, “Although other issues also existed, comfort and intellectual community were the key reasons I made the move.” These studies indicate that pragmatic factors such as funding and active recruitment should be coupled with a strong commitment and follow-through for the representation of many identities, and a welcoming and supportive intellectual environment for engaging critical questions around race, ethnicity, and identity. 

As we previously noted in our article on gender identity and degree conferral, NCES data do not lend themselves to being examined intersectionally, that is, with an acknowledgment of the complex ways discrimination and marginalization can function across multiple identities. Separating out race and ethnicity from gender cannot be done: we are all a combination of various identities and experience our lives through the lenses of those identities, including our experience of exclusion. Quoting the JEDI Committee once again, “…there are systematic and structural barriers that limit the recruitment and retention of diverse faculty and students [and] marginalized faculty and students do not necessarily see geography as relevant or reflective of their realities, and as a result, they do not see in it prospects for a well-defined, practical, and impactful career.” Although the numbers indicate that more students of differing identities are finding their way to geography, especially for advanced degrees, we must find ways to build on this positive trend: to actively working toward structural change in the discipline and to find out more about what attracts students of differing identities and experiences to geography, and what contributes to their decision to pursue advanced study.  

Get Involved in the Next State of Geography Report:

We look forward to further expanding on our findings in the State of Geography Report in the future, with data from a variety of sources, including NCES, AAG surveys, and AAG member expertise. We welcome questions, ideas, or suggestions about the findings at   

Read the full report
Further Reading

Peake, L.J. & England, Kim (2020). (What Geographers Should Know About) The State of U.S. and Canadian Academic Professional Associations’ Engagement with Mental Health Practices and Policies, The Professional Geographer, 72:1, 37-53, DOI: 10.1080/00330124.2019.1611455 

Brinegar, S.J. (2001). Female Representation in the Discipline of Geography, Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 25:3, 311-320, DOI: 10.1080/03098260120084395 

Kinkaid, E. & Fritzsche, L. (2022). The Stories We Tell: Challenging Exclusionary Histories of Geography in U.S. Graduate Curriculum, Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 112:8, 2469-2485, DOI: 10.1080/24694452.2022.2072805 


The State of Geography: Patterns and Trends by Gender Identity

In December, AAG released the State of Geography report, which provides an overview of broad trends in degree conferral at the undergraduate and graduate levels, both within geography and in comparison with general trends in other social sciences and in academia overall. For the next several months, we—the authors of this AAG report–will examine how these trends manifest, with similarities and differences, among students of differing gender identities, as well as those in racialized categories of identity who have been historically excluded from geography. 

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) data for Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) codes form the basis of the State of Geography report. Simply looking at these data, shows immediately how conclusions and even the formulation of questions are constrained by the limits and assumptions in how data are framed and collected. While acknowledging the ways in which the data themselves can shape expectations, we use the information from NCES both to examine the status quo and to push further into new avenues for change and for strengthening the discipline’s equity and representation. 

CIP data about gender is based on only the two normative choices: male and female. These categories effectively erase the presence of the transgender and nonbinary people who are pursuing geography degrees. AAG’s own data-gathering, based on voluntary identification of gender by our members, demonstrates that at least 2% of our members identify outside the normative binary. Because the two conventional classifications of gender are so rigid, people who identify differently from “man” or “woman” have to be miscategorized to be counted, their gender identities erased by design. As AAG uses these terms in the absence of better options, we acknowledge the flaw in the data and the need to push the field to more accurately capture the range of genders in future reports. 

Still a Man’s Field, But Promising Indicators of Change

The bottom line is that geography remains a male-centered field. However, NCES data and other sources indicate that while people identified as women are underrepresented in total geography degrees conferred, they have more consistent positive growth in degree conferral than people identified as men. The higher representation of women in geography graduate programs than in undergraduate programs could indicate that many women (and any nonbinary people classified in the data as women) find their paths to geography after earning their bachelor’s degrees in other fields. They also appear to have a higher representation in doctorate programs, where the data categories of men and women have reached close to 50:50 parity, and on two occasions students identified as women have achieved 52%.  

Comparative bar chart showing the ercentage of total degrees conferred by Geography and Geography-related CIP code by gender and degree type, 1986-2021 (Figure 8 from the report)


This proportional change is partly due to a decline in degrees for those identified as men, and partly due to a growth in degrees among students identified as women. The 2012 inflection point, possibly related to the Great Recession that began in 2008, is visible in Figure 7. The pronounced decline in geography degrees during 2012 was not as severe for degree-holders identified as women, compared with those identified as men.  


Line chart showing the number of degrees (combined bachelor's, master's, Ph.D.) conferred by Geography and Geography-related CIP codes, 1986-2021 (Figure 7 from the report) 

How Geography Compares with Peer Disciplines

Gender proportions for bachelor’s and master’s degrees in geography remain relatively stable in their make-up since 1986, even though other social science degrees at these levels have diversified more visibly by gender during the past several decades. The pattern of higher attainment of doctoral degrees by students identified as women is similar in all social sciences and geography.  

In the physical sciences, the gender mix is also showing signs of being more inclusive of people identified as women, this time at all levels from undergraduate through doctorate. Studies in natural resources and conservation in particular show a larger participation of students identified as women relative to other physical sciences related to environmental studies and to geography.  

Studies in natural resources and conservation in particular show a larger participation of women relative to other physical sciences related to environmental studies, and to geography.

Overall, although there are positive developments in gender equity within geography, especially at the doctoral level, it still lags behind sibling disciplines such as meteorology, geology and earth sciences, natural resources and conservation, and anthropology in attracting more gender-diverse pool of candidates. 

Success Is Not Only in Numbers

The data available to us add to our understanding of the state of gender diversity in geography and academia from 1986 until now. How can we gain further insight, not only into changes in the gender representation in our discipline, but the factors that lead to greater success in diversity and inclusiveness? 

An important research goal is to better meet the reality of gender in data collection and studies. Major institutions must transform their data efforts to better include the full spectrum of gender, and they must hear from their research communities to demand this transformation. For example, AAG recently signed on to a joint letter to the National Science Foundation to hold it accountable to previous promises for data collection efforts for sexual orientation and gender diversity. In terms of attainment goals, while it is tempting to let success rest with a desirable ratio, such as the number of degree conferrals, it is better to see such a number as potentially encouraging and a cue to strive further with programming and approaches that promote greater gender representation across the entire career spectrum, including greater support for and access to tenure-track and leadership opportunities.  

Numbers alone are not the issue; they are only the indicators of issues, but they are an important starting point. AAG is looking at ways that we can bring about greater quantitative knowledge of the full spectrum of gender diversity in geography. We also know that there are important qualitative considerations underlying the trends we see in geography. For example, we know that the experience of pursuing a degree can be very different across genders. Faculty representation and experience is both an important part of this and its own area worth examining. The work of Brinegar (2001) indicates that gender representation of both faculty and students matters to successful outcomes. Beyond representation, we need to better document how women, trans, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming people are either empowered and supported or frustrated and discouraged as members of departments, as teachers, mentors, and colleagues. 

 Experiences in the classroom set the tone: Kinkaid and Fritszche (2022) analyzed 32 class syllabi for graduate-level Introduction to geography classes for the prevalence of many influencing narratives and assumptions, including those related to gender. The researchers found that “seemingly minor decisions about framing, content, and organization” led to reaffirmation of exclusionary ideas about geography, but with some examination and reframing, can also lead “toward more inclusive and diverse imaginaries of the geographic tradition.” 

The role of care and support in the academy and professional societies has been studied by Peake and England (2020), Mullings, Parizeau and many others, including the gendered aspects of mental health and wellbeing. Support for mental health and wellbeing, in turn, has a direct impact on the success of geographers of all genders. Career-related questions that additional data could address include: What are the career prospects for geography graduates of all genders, within and outside of academia, in the private sector, and in government? What do we know about pay parity and advancement opportunities? Are goals for gender equity being developed with intersectional experiences in mind, with attention to the experience students and faculty who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), who or different nationalities and citizenships, and with access and accommodations for disabilities, to name only a few considerations?  

Early trends are also of interest. Data exist from gender trends in AP Human Geography class enrollment in high school, where it seems likely that more people identified as female than male are signing up. Could this open the door wider for undergraduate choices of major? Especially intriguing in this regard is the deepening trend among those identified as women—and we might discover if we collected more detailed data, people of diverse gender identities—to study and contribute to the study of natural resources, climate, and conservation, food security, critical studies, and the like. Is there enough awareness and incentive for these studies to be pursued through geography? 

Thinking creatively about how to address these questions through data will take a collaborative effort from all of us. In 2023 and beyond, AAG looks forward to working with our members and geography departments to enhance our understanding of and take action on these questions.  

Next month, AAG’s State of Geography series continues with articles on categories of race and ethnicity, as well as data needs. 

Get Involved in the Next State of Geography Report:

We look forward to further expanding on our findings in the State of Geography Report in the future, with data from a variety of sources, including NCES, AAG surveys, and AAG member expertise. We welcome questions, ideas, or suggestions about the findings at   

Read the full report
Further Reading

Peake, L.J. & England, Kim (2020). (What Geographers Should Know About) The State of U.S. and Canadian Academic Professional Associations’ Engagement with Mental Health Practices and Policies, The Professional Geographer, 72:1, 37-53, DOI: 10.1080/00330124.2019.1611455 

Brinegar, S.J. (2001). Female Representation in the Discipline of Geography, Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 25:3, 311-320, DOI: 10.1080/03098260120084395 

Kinkaid, E. & Fritzsche, L. (2022). The Stories We Tell: Challenging Exclusionary Histories of Geography in U.S. Graduate Curriculum, Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 112:8, 2469-2485, DOI: 10.1080/24694452.2022.2072805 


AAG Strategic Plan 2023-2025


AAG 2022 Membership Report


The State of Geography: Data and Trends in Higher Education 

By Mark Revell and Mikelle Benfield

This year, AAG debuts The State of Geography report, presenting trends and indicators in post-secondary geography education in the United States. This report uses Classification of Instructional Program (CIP) codes, established by the National Center for Educational Statistics, to provide a snapshot of geography degree conferral patterns at the undergraduate and graduate levels. These data help identify trends and areas in need of additional attention, such as decreasing degree conferral in geography, racial and gender diversity across the discipline, and more.  

Recent changes in geography majors and graduation rates observed in this report take place against a broader backdrop of change in higher education, where uneven or declining growth in enrollments and degrees has taken place in numerous majors since 2012, and has been aggravated more recently by COVID-19. Our findings indicate a similar slowing of the robust growth in geography majors that began in the 1990s and peaked in 2012. The overall number of geography degrees has steadily declined since then, tracking with declining degree conferrals in many other disciplines, with the greatest impact felt in the social sciences and humanities, and at the undergraduate level. The trends for post-graduate degrees are more encouraging, with steady growth until very recently, almost certainly due to the impacts of COVID-19. 

Geography by Many Other Names

This report only captures trends for the six CIP codes that are currently related to geography, acknowledging that geography is also interdisciplinary and embedded in other disciplinary studies not clearly addressed by CIP codes. As new codes have been added over the years, we can see trends in disciplinary growth. In particular, GIScience and cartography degrees take up a larger proportion of current degree conferrals, particularly among master’s degrees. The proportion of GIS-related degrees is less dramatic at the bachelor’s and doctorate levels. 

Image of a portion of page 4 of the PDF report showing just the change in proportion among master’s degrees over time
Master’s degrees have shown higher proportions of GIScience and cartography degrees in recent years.


Reviewing CIP categories that have been added since 1980 yields insight into directions for the discipline. Three categories that are used most often date from, respectively, 1980 (Geography), 2000 (Geography, Other), and 1990/amended 2010 (GIScience and Cartography was Cartography from 1990-2010). Three additional categories created in 2020 have yet to be widely adopted, but identify known directions for geography practice: Geospatial Intelligence, Geography and Environmental Science, and Geography and Anthropology. 

While the interdisciplinary nature of geography makes it widely appealing for study, it also makes the discipline a challenge to track due to the variety of non-geography CIP codes that departments can apply to their programs. For example, GIScience programs may use a computer science CIP code; physical geography may be classified through a natural sciences CIP code. The reason behind the choice of codes by program coordinators could range from codes that are better suited to visa programs to choosing high-growth non-geography CIP codes more likely to be favored by college administrations. In fact, AAG’s Guide to Geography Programs in the Americas already notes some CIP codes used by geography programs that were not included in this initial report, such as public health. Then, too, geography is being taught in other programs that are experiencing very high growth, such as atmospheric sciences, natural resources and conservation, and computer science and IT. These could be masking geography study, or could represent combined programs and departments.  

Minding the Undergraduate Gap

Along with geography degrees at all levels, undergraduate degrees climbed steadily from just over 3,000 in 1986 to peak at roughly 5,000 in 2012. Growth has declined since then, reaching the level last seen thirty years ago at roughly 4,000 degrees conferred. When compared with all social and physical sciences, however, The State of Geography report found that geography has held its own, with a similar rate of growth to the combined rates for all social and physical sciences. Notably, natural resources conservation is the top physical science degree, and growing swiftly. This is a relevant finding to the capacity of geography studies to appeal to undergraduates, since spatial skills are indispensable to natural resources conservation. Almost all the sciences have experienced a dip in degree conferrals since 2008, and most lag far behind fields such as business management, marketing, computer sciences, and engineering. Part of this is likely the fallout from the Great Recession: The share of students majoring in social science and humanities degrees dropped steadily between 2008 and 2018, while the share of majors perceived as “recession-proof” grew. 

Line chart showing Geography’s performance relative to select other social sciences

Line chart showing Geography’s performance relative to select other physical sciences
Geography’s performance relative to select other social and physical sciences.


In short, geography as a major makes a good showing within both families of science to which it has affinities. This indicates the enormous opportunity that lies in breaking geography out of silos and rethinking the breadth of its appeal to undergraduate students. In fact, Stoler et al. found in their 2020 study of student preferences that the actual word ‘geography’ rated far lower in undergraduate students’ minds than words suggestive of many geographic focus areas, such as ‘environment’ or ‘sustainability.’ The news about conventional geography degrees for undergraduates is sobering, and the discipline’s influence among college students seems far from waning. 

Graduate Study Strong Despite Setbacks

While the net number of bachelor’s degrees conferred has grown by only one-third since 1986, effectively falling from historical highs to 2000-era levels, graduate studies grew by almost 100% (96% and 98%, respectively). Since 2016, however, graduate degrees have dipped sharply along with other disciplinary degrees in social or physical science compared with other disciplines, possibly a partial consequence of economic factors that are now aggravated by COVID-19.   

Line chart showing the comparison of Geography with other fields of study
Geography majors across all levels of study (bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate), compared with select other fields of study.


Among the comparison fields in the report, geography graduate studies outperform virtually all other social sciences we examined at the graduate level when it comes to percent growth: they are second only to economics at the master’s level, and the number one choice at the doctorate level among the social sciences we compared. Among the physical sciences we compared, geography is second only to the rapidly growing field of natural resources and conservation at the master’s degree level (the same scientific field that has also greatly grown in undergraduate degrees). Doctorates in geography are outpaced by those in three physical sciences that all have close affinity with our discipline: natural resources and conservation, geology, and atmospheric science. It is worth asking why, if geography is such an attractive post-graduate degree, it has less traction among undergraduates. Are many geographers drawn to the discipline too late to change majors for their bachelor’s degree? Does the major even exist at their college? A student cannot earn a geography degree if none is available. Bjelland (2004,) found that only 7% of undergraduate liberal arts colleges offered a geography degree. For their part, the state university systems have made program changes since 2008, including combining or eliminating programs, due to increasing budget pressure and austerity. These changes yielded many more hybrid departments that may not explicitly recognize their geographic components (this is especially true in departments of urban planning and environmental science).  

Notes on the Future

The overall decline in growth in geography degrees in the U.S. in recent years, especially among undergraduates, is concerning. Yet the relative strength in advanced degrees demonstrates staying power for the discipline, even at a time when so many disciplines and degrees are also declining. This could indicate that geography, often referred to as a “discovery” major, is resonating with students once they have discovered the field. Additional promising news, although outside the scope of this first report, is the apparent growth among associate degree geography or GIS programs at community colleges. There are now 210 community colleges in the United States that grant associates’ degrees in geography and GIS, compared with an estimated 158 in 2018. Shabram and Housel have found that many community colleges are “agile and demand-driven,” responding to the growing, unmet workforce need for spatial skills, noted by Solem et. Al. (2008). 

Geography is also better positioned as a STEM science in future: the Geography and Environmental Studies CIP offers an important chance to increase geography’s visibility in this popular scientific area. Similarly, the Department of Homeland Security recent added Geography and Environmental Studies to its list of STEM degree programs.  

These new developments can contribute to heightened awareness of geography, as well as better understanding of its power as a major and a career choice. 

Note: The State of Geography Report also covers the conferral of degrees by race, ethnicity, and gender. These dimensions are crucial to a full understanding of the momentum of the discipline, and will be covered in future articles. 

Get Involved in the Next State of Geography Report:

We look forward to further expanding on our findings in the State of Geography Report in the future, with data from a variety of sources, including NCES, AAG surveys, and AAG member expertise. We welcome questions, ideas, or suggestions about the findings at  

Further Reading

Bjelland, M. (2003) A place for geographers in the liberal arts college? The Professional Geographer, Vol 56, Issue 3  

Revell, M. Community colleges are changing the landscape of higher education. (2021) ArcNews, Fall.  

Shabram, P,, and J. Housel, (2021) Building a partnership to build a pipeline for geographers. New Directions for Community Colleges, 194 Sum. 

Solem, M., I. Cheung, M.B. Schlemper. (2008) Skills in professional geography: An assessment of workforce needs and expectations. The Professional Geographer, Vol. 60, Issue 3.  

Stoler, J. D. Ter-Ghazaryan, I. Sheskin, A.L. Pearson, G. Schnakenberg, D. Cagalanan. (2021) What’s in a name? Undergraduate perceptions of geography, environment, and sustainability keywords and program names. Annals of the American Association of Geographers. Vol 111, Issue 2. 

View the report

DOI: 10.14433/2017.0123


AAG State of Geography Report 2022


2022 White Paper on Locational Information and the Public Interest


Diversity Task Force Report October 2006


2015 Annual Reports of the AAG Regional Divisions

East Lakes Division (Tom Maraffa)

The 2015 Annual Meeting of the East Lakes Division will be held Friday and Saturday October 9th and 10th at the Kent State University Conference Center.  The opening reception will be on Friday evening, with papers and panels all day Saturday.  The meeting will conclude with annual banquet on the evening of the 10th.

The Division is the in process of electing new officers which will be concluded by May 2015.

Reports received from the departments in the region indicate healthy activity in program development including:

  • An online graduate certificate and and masters degree in GISc at Kent State University
  • The first graduates in the Ph.D program in Spatially Integrated Social Studies at the University of Toledo, Fall 2014.
  • Wright State University reporting the development of GEO degrees and certificates at two community colleges in its service region.
  • Ohio Wesleyan University creating a new major in Globalization and Development.

The departments in the region are continuing to face challenges related to university budget pressures. In addition the growing prominence of STEM is requiring departments to both advocate for their role as either part of or complimentary to STEM as well as for the importance of liberal arts.

Great Plains/Rocky Mountains Division (J.M. Shawn Hutchinson)

Departments in the region report continued successes in teaching, research, and geographic outreach.  At the graduate level, geography departments are actively meeting current, and preparing for future, demand for STEM-trained students.  One example of this is the new Master’s degree in Applied Geography and Geospatial Science that begins in Fall 2015 at the University of Colorado Denver.  The University of Kansas, whose geography department will soon be led by Nate Brunsell, will also be adding a doctoral program in Atmospheric Science.  Our region also benefits tremendously from a robust Geographic Alliance Network and dedicated state coordinators who actively support and promote geography education at the K-12 level.

Ongoing state and university budget woes remain persistent challenges.  This is especially true for our land grant universities and units housed within colleges of arts and sciences.  Arts and science academic units are being disproportionally impacted by mandated decreases in degree credit hour requirements, incoming freshman arriving at school having already earned a significant number of college credits, and the focus in many states on promoting “job” degrees over the benefits of a well-rounded liberal arts education.  It remains as important as ever to continue advocating for geography with university administration and legislators.

After a successful joint regional meeting with the Southwest Division in 2014, which drew over 300 geographers to sunny Albuquerque, our 2015 regional conference will be hosted by the University of Nebraska-Kearney (in Kearney, Nebraska) on October 2-3.  In 2016 and 2017, we will convene in Colorado Springs (hosted by the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs) and Grand Forks (hosted by the Department of Geography at the University of North Dakota), respectively.

As many already know, geography lost two prominent scholars this calendar year who called the Great Plains/Rocky Mountain region home.  We continue to mourn the passing earlier this year of James W. Merchant (University of Nebraska) and Stephen E. White (Kansas State University).

Middle Atlantic Division (Jeremy Tasch)

The Fall 2014 Annual Division meeting—hosted by Frostburg State University— marked the 50th Anniversary of Geography at Frostburg State.  To help mark this occasion, the 2014 meeting inaugurated the Division’s 1st Annual Best Student Paper Award.  First place went to Zan Dodson, a doctoral candidate from the University of Maryland-College Park. Second Place, however, went to Martin Ndegwa, an undergraduate student from Towson University.

In a break with current practice, MAD’s leadership resolved to charge annual membership dues (set differentially for students, part-time employed, and full-time employed) to help maintain and better serve its membership. In keeping with its resolve to better serve the Division’s diverse membership, the MAD-Board is examining a concern raised by colleagues working for the federal government and with non-academic organizations. Some of these members feel that the AAG’s membership fees are too high for the level of support these non-academically employed geographers receive from the organization. The MAD Board is continuing to discuss how it can help better support its professional members. Further, the Board is working to better meet the needs of its K-12 geography instructors and its contingent faculty members. As part of the Division’s revitalization, the Board is in the process of creating a contingent faculty committee;  a professional geographers Committee; a newsletter committee; and resurrecting the positions of Vice-Chair, Secretary, and Webmaster.

MAD has switched to online nomination and voting, and the Board also now reviews and votes for its minutes online.

The Richard C. Jaffeson Middle Atlantic Division (MAD) Fund

More than three decades ago Richard C. Jaffeson, AICP, MAD-AAG President for 1975-1976 and then again MAD-AAG President from 2002-2003, established a fund for the benefit of MAD-AAG. With his closing of the fund in 2014, MAD received just in access of $8,300 in residual funds. The MAD Board formed a subcommittee to help determine the manner by which MAD’s membership can best benefit from Richard’s foresight and generosity.

MAD comes to Towson

If the annual MAD-AAG conference was ever hosted by Towson University, the division’s longest serving members do not recall and the university’s Department of Geography and Environmental Planning has no records.  Thus, until shown otherwise, fall 2015 will mark the first time that Towson University will host the annual MAD-AAG Conference. Among the planned highlights, the conference will feature the international research and instruction being conducted by the Division’s members; an interdisciplinary celebration of “place” as imagined through geography and poetry; and an evening performance by the only American Master of Mugham (planned, but not confirmed).

Middle States Division (Grant Saff)

General Regional Developments:

  1. The Annual Meeting was held at York, PA, October 24-5, 2014: At the Board meeting on 23 October, David Fyfe (President 2014), noted that 110 people had contacted him about attending, 102 were already paid up. It was projected that there would be 54 papers, 14 posters, 2 panel discussions. According to the Financial Report submitted to the Board by the Executive Director on 9 April 2015, after deducting all costs the meeting lost $646.02.
  2. At this meeting, the membership unanimously voted to amend the Constitution and admit Puerto Rico as part of the Division.
  3. The 2015 Annual Meeting will be held in Binghamton, NY on October 2-3.
  4. In accordance with offers of assistance made by the AAG to provide web hosting of the Division’s web sites, the Board turned over the future hosting of the Dvision’s Website to the AAG.
  5. Robert Mason, Temple University, has been elected as the new Regional Councilor, with his term beginning in July.
  6. Saff noted via email on 3/12/15, that a check Hofstra had received from MSDAAG for reimbursement for paying for our web-hosting expenses (to Bluehost for $53.74) had two signatures on it – the Executive Director and someone unknown to him who was not a member of the Board (and had not been appointed in the three years he had served on the Board). He requested an explanation from the Board of “why/how this arrangement came about and which elected representatives approved of making a non-Board person a co-signer of our checks?” At time of writing no response has been received.
  7. On 30 March 2015, I sent out a call to the members (including the new members from Puerto Rico) for responses to the President’s Challenge Question and for any issues that should be communicated to Council. At time of writing, 4 responses from members were received. A fairly large number of emails are still bounced back indicating that the AAG should perhaps create a better system for tracking membership.

Responses to the Challenge Question: Regarding how to increase diversity in Geogrpahy

From a Professor at Rutgers, “… I was recently thinking about the lack of African Americans in Geography…I wish I knew how the AAG could improve its racial balance….”

From a Professor at West Point, “I know this isn’t exactly what the AAG is looking for, but at its core, our profession is one of exchanging thoughts and ideas with students.  However, academics tend to be incredibly like-minded… I think diversity of thought is more important than diversity of skin pigmentation…and is a topic the AAG should consider.”

From a contingent faculty member at various Universities in New York, “…my experience this semester was that when I talked about subjects that students could identify with or about which students had very strong personal opinions, it seemed to attract them more to the subject and get them more involved in my teaching. The case in point was migration. With first generation students, they were interested because they could reflect on their own experience. With others, they often had very strong opinions on the topic. I realize that may also limit the areas in which one could involve minorities. But I thought the anecdote might be useful.”

A Professor from the Geography Department at Binghamton, comments that the Department has been slated as a growth department over the next 5 years,  “As a result, we hired three new faculty- all growth positions, not replacements.” Of these 3 new hires, 2 are Asians, one white and one of the 3 is a female. Of the 10 FT faculty, 5 are white, 3 Asian and 2 Black (8 males, 2 females). Of the current MA graduate enrollment, “23 are whites, 11 Asian, 6 Black and 4 Hispanic-Latino (34 males and 10 females).” He notes, “It should be clear from these numbers that we are one of the most diversified departments in the nation. While I cannot provide exact data on majors, we have made very good strides in diversifying that population too.”

My own anecdotal experience of teaching at a Private School in NY (Hofstra) is that the number of African-American students in my classes has fallen, while the number of Asian and Latino students has risen slightly. In terms of hiring, since becoming a Department in 2008, we have hired 9 contingent faculty members, with the following racial/ethnic breakdown: 1 African, 2 Asian (India, China), 4 white American, 1 African-American, 1 white from Europe (all are female). We recently conducted a GIS job search that attracted over 60 applicants, with a sizable number from Asia (mostly China and India). Only 1 of the applicants was clearly identifiable as African-American. The final choice was between two applicants, a white male and white female – with the white male being chosen (all of the FT female faculty members voted for this candidate). We have been unsuccessful in numerous attempts to have our African-American contingent faculty member hired to a tenure track position. At one stage, this faculty member accepted a non-tenure track visiting position in a Geography Department at a large research University in the region, but resigned after one year, citing the large classes and lack of contact with faculty in the Department. She subsequently left teaching for a year, before accepting more classes in our Department. This example highlights that even when you have very well qualified African-American geographers, you need sufficient institutional support to keep them within the profession.


New England/St. Lawrence Valley Division (Richard Kujawa) 

The New England and Saint Lawrence Valley Society remains a viable and visible region of the AAG.  In October 2014 the University of New Hampshire (UNH) hosted a successful regional meeting which featured another strong and well-attended public plenary.  The theme for this year was Water in a Changing World.  Jeffery Bolster, Professor of History from UNH presented the plenary lecture titled “Human Impacts on the Piscataqua Estuary and Gulf of Maine: The Long View.”

The region’s refereed publication The Northeastern Geographer distributed its latest volume.  It continues to provide a refereed venue for papers, reviews and commentaries in the region.

A record eleven teams entered the World Geography Bowl.  The University of Massachusetts-Amherst was victorious. Almost eighty people participated in the pizza social which followed.

NESTVAL awarded paper and poster prizes for both undergraduate and graduate students as well as a Distinguished Service Award to John Hayes of Salem State University, Massachusetts and a Lifetime Award to Mark Motte, Rhode Island College.  Next year, NESTVAL will experiment with a faculty professional development grant program.

Future regional meetings are planned for Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts (2015), Bishop’s University in Quebec (2016) and Central Connecticut State University (2017).

Geography departments and programs in the region report a broadly positive picture on program status with some bright spots but also some continued tightening of budgets and resources.  Based on responses from a sample of colleges and universities, there were a few new hires and a small number of confirmed or prospective post-doctoral positions.  For example, Clark University reported a new hire in Political Ecology (Rinku Roy Chowdury); the University of Vermont reported the possibility of a geographer being named to a postdoctoral position.  The University of Vermont has had success in the past with this postdoctoral recruitment program leading to permanent faculty positions in Geography.

In addition to core roles in several Environmental, Global Studies and Sustainability Programs, Geographers are integral to other developments.  Examples include:  New collaborative courses “Mapping American Childhoods” (with a sociologist at the University of Vermont); a service-learning collaboration with the Nature Conservancy focused on Dendrochronology (also at the University of Vermont); and a new multi-faculty member #blacklivesmatter course at Dartmouth, hosted in Geography.  Other initiatives include new tracks inside of Geography majors; continued engagement with the niche of GIS in higher education and the community; and new graduate concentrations or graduate initiatives. For example, a new interdisciplinary Minor in GIS at Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts; a new undergraduate certificate pending approval at Rhode Island College; and continued development of the Community GIS lab at Keene State in New Hampshire.  The University of Maine at Farmington continues its practice of engaged scholarship with its undergraduate majors contributing 100 papers and posters in the last 5 years.  Several institutions have expanded inter-college or university collaborations.  For example, Southern Connecticut State University is in the process of building a collaborate relationship for seamless Study Abroad experiences at Liverpool’s John Moore’s University in the UK in Geography and Marine Studies; and in Quebec, where Bishops University (classes taught in English) will collaborate with the University of Sherbrooke (classes taught in French) on a new graduate program in Environmental Studies.

Geographers in the region continue their work with K-12 education. Geographic Alliances, operating individually and in concert, maintain and increase the visibility of Geography and work to consolidate and enhance K-12 curriculum and professional development.


Pacific Coast Division (Scott Mensing )


The Spatial Sciences Institute at the University of Southern California, under the leadership of John Wilson, has shown impressive growth in the area of GIS education. In particular, the Institute has added, or had approved six new programs over the next two years. These include new interdisciplinary Bachelors, Masters and PhD programs created in collaboration with other departments, including Public Policy, Architecture, Medicine, and Computer Science.

Fall 2014, the University of Arizona School of Geography and Development (SGD) launched a new online Masters of Science in Geographic Information Systems. This is a one year Masters’ degree that has over 30 students enrolled. In the fall of 2015, the SGD will begin a new Bachelor of Science in Geographic Information Systems Technology program.

At the University of California, Davis, the Geography Graduate Group is thriving and published their first newsletter, available online. The incoming class in fall 2014 had 21 students.

Full report from the Association of Pacific Coast Geographers, Scott Mensing, Regional Councilor

Update from the field:

Several campuses have shown healthy growth through initiation of new programs, particularly in the field of GIS.

The University of Southern California Spatial Sciences Institute continues to innovate and strengthen its role and impact. During the past 12-18 months the Institute has launched or received permission to launch six collaborative programs: 1) a new B.S. in GeoDesign (with the Price School of Public Policy and USC School of Architecture) and Spatial Studies Minor in Fall, 2015; 2) online Graduate Certificates in Geospatial Intelligence (now accredited by the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation) and Geospatial Leadership to complement the existing M.S. and Graduate Certificate Programs in Geographic Information Science & Technology; 3) a new GeoHealth track in the Keck School of Medicine’s online Master of Public Health degree program; 4) garnered approval to launch a new M.S. in Spatial Informatics with the Viterbi School of Engineering’s Department of Computer Science in Fall, 2015; 5) garnered approval to launch a new Graduate Certificate in Spatial Analytics for doctoral students in Fall, 2016; 6) garnered approval to launch a new Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Population, Health and Place (with the Departments of Preventive Medicine and Sociology) in Fall, 2016. The numbers of faculty, staff, and related activities are growing as well to support these new collaborations.

Fall 2014, the University of Arizona School of Geography and Development (SGD) launched a new online Masters of Science in Geographic Information Systems. This is a one year Masters’ degree that has over 30 students enrolled. In the fall of 2015, the SGD will begin a new Bachelor of Science in Geographic Information Systems Technology program.

The Geography Graduate Group (GGG) is alive and well at the University of California, Davis with the publication of their first newsletter, the Davis Geographer (Vol. 1 2014/2015). Students had a large part in bringing this newsletter to fruition. As noted in the message from the chair, Chris Benner, “Since we are an inter-departmental graduate group, with faculty dispersed across the entire campus, it is the continued cohesion, energy, and contributions of our students that is absolutely critical for our program to thrive.” The UC Davis GGG will have a booth at the 2015 AAG conference in Chicago. You can see all of the news at

In 2014 UCLA Department of Geography welcomed two new faculty members, Dr. Dennis Lettenmeier and Dr. Kyle Cavanaugh. Both are physical geographers.

In Fall 2014, the University of Nevada, Reno Department of Geography welcomed Dr. Jessie Clark, a political and feminist geographer studying the impacts of socio-economic and gendered development in conflict regions. In Fall of 2015, Dr. Kerri Jean Ormerod will join the department in a position shared between Geography and Cooperative Extension. This newly created position will focus on drought hazards and issues of water use in Nevada.

In October, 2014, the dedication was held for the Robert and Maureen Gohstand Leisure Reading Room in the Oviatt Library on the campus of California State University Northridge. The reading room has long been the vision of Robert (Bob) Gohstand, a Professor Emeritus from the Department of Geography in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Bob and Maureen created an endowment to help support the room and its collection of books well into the future

APCG news:

The APCG is in healthy financial conditions, with receipts greater than disbursements in FY 2014. Membership stood at 506 as of the Fall 2014 APCG annual meeting and looked to possibly top out at 560 by the end of the year. There were 110 new members in 2014. The division plans to re-establish the Membership Committee staffed with former Presidents to focus on approaches for recruiting new members. It was noted at the meeting that while there is a cadre of stalwarts, recruiting younger faculty has been a challenge. The incoming President is Steve Cunha of Humboldt State University.

The APCG 2014 annual meeting was hosted by the University of Arizona and held in Tucson AZ Sept. 25-27. There were 195 registrants and over 100 papers and poster presentations. Eight awards were given for outstanding student presentations and another eight scholarships and 23 travel grants were awarded, for a total of $10,650 awarded to student participants. The full business meeting minutes, conference report and treasurer’ reports are available online through the APCG division’s newsletter Pacifica at

The 2015 APCG conference will be October 21-24 in Palm Springs, CA.

The division’s journal, the APCG Yearbook is available online through Project Muse and JSTOR, with issues through Volume 76 available (all but three most current years).


Southeast Regional Division (Thomas Mote)

SEDAAG annual meetings

SEDAAG will hold its 70th meeting November 22-24, 2015, in Pensacola, Florida, hosted by the University of West Florida. The 69th meeting in Athens, Georgia, in November 2014 was a success, with 410 people registered and a record number of organized sessions. SEDAAG is in negotiation with sites in South Carolina to host the 71st meeting in 2016. New editors for Southeastern Geographer were selected at the Athens meeting. Hilda Kurtz and Deepak Mishra from the University of Georgia will serve as co-editors beginning July 2015, replacing David Cochran and Carl Reese from the University of Southern Mississippi.

SEDAAG opportunities and challenges

The SEDAAG annual meeting continues to grow in its diversity of opportunities and as such is finding it difficult to complete the meeting in just 1.5 days. Few people remained for the business meeting in Athens.  These problems will be before the Executive Committee at the Pensacola meeting.  Student participation continues to be a major ingredient for attendance, and the division continues to seek participation from a variety of types of institutions. At the 2013 SEDAAG meeting in Roanoke, Virginia, the division supported, financially, the participation of several students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The supported students were actively involved in attending papers, posters, social events, and networking with students and faculty. SEDAAG again provided this opportunity for the Athens meeting and plans to do so again in Pensacola. The AAG might consider the benefit of a similar program at the national level. 

Geography in the Southeastern Division

The state representatives of Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia all responded to requests for information on the status of Geography in the Southeastern Division. The state of Florida has new rules about general education credits, and the new menus of required physical and social science courses do not include Geography, reducing exposure to the discipline in the most populous state in the division. Several departments reported pressure from declining state budgets, including threats to the future of Geography as an independent program some institutions. Most departments reported steady or increasing undergraduate enrollment in Geography, including some with record high enrollments. Kennesaw State University in Georgia began a 123-hour online B.A. in Geography in Spring 2015, and North Carolina Central University is seeking permission to grant a consolidated degree in Earth Science, Environmental Science, and Geography at the undergraduate level.


Southwestern Division (Ron Hagelman)

With the exception of continuing budget cuts to the higher education in Louisiana, SWAAG programs are showing signs of growth and expansion. Membership and participation the regional meetings remains robust and the division journal, Southwestern Geographer, is publishing a new online version of the journal as of this year. The Fall 2016 meeting will be held November 4-7th in San Antonio, Texas. The meeting will be held jointly with the Applied Geography Conference and is being organized locally by Texas State University and The University of Texas-San Antonio.

The Southwest Division of the AAG hosts a variety of departments and programs distributed across all states within the region. Our division includes faculty/department representatives from the following colleges/universities:


Arkansas State University

University of Arkansas

University of Central Arkansas

New Mexico

New Mexico State University

University of New Mexico


Grambling State University

Louisiana State University

Louisiana Technological University

Northwestern State University

University of Louisiana at Lafayette

University of Louisiana at Monroe

University of New Orleans


East Central University

Northeastern State University

Oklahoma State University

University of Oklahoma

University of Central Oklahoma


Baylor University

Stephen F. Austin State University

Sam Houston State University

Texas State University- San Marcos

Texas A&M University- Kingsville

Texas A&M University

Texas A&M University- Commerce

Texas Christian University

Texas Tech University

University of North Texas

University of Texas

University of Texas- Dallas

University of Texas- San Antonio

University of Texas- Tyler

Fall Regional Division Conference

The SWAAG Conference and Business Meeting was held October 23-25, 2014 Albuquerque, NM. The meeting was held jointly with the Great Plains/Rocky Mountain Division of the AAG. Over 300 students and faculty attended the meeting from both regions. Local arrangements were lead by Maria Lane, University of New Mexico, and Shawn Hutchinson, Kansas State. The meeting was successful by all measures and included numerous paper session, panels, poster sessions, student awards, and a keynote presentation by AAG President, Mona Domosh.   

Reports from the Field

New Self-Standing Department

Texas Christian University (Fort Worth, Texas) will be a self-standing Dept. of Geography is the fall 2016 semester.  They will be dividing from the current Dept. of History and Geography structure and have about 25 majors with two degree options: a BA and a BS. One reason for the  growth is their World Regional Geography course.  It is an option in the TCU core.  This spring 2015 semester TCU is teaching 13 sections of World Regional Geography with a total current enrollment of 485 students (5.7% of the total estimated undergraduate enrollment of 8500).  Another reason is the support of our dean and growth in their GIS program, under Kyle Walker’s leadership.

New Geography Minor

The University of Arkansas Fort Smith now has a geography minor. As of fall 2010, their campus only had one geography course in the academic catalog: World Regional Geography. This course was taught to meet a social studies general education requirement and it was taught by an historian. Since that time, geographer Linda Fair has designed and had approved a geography minor. Their first geography minor graduated in December 2014 and five more will graduate in May.

Louisiana higher education continues to be challenges by budget cuts/shrinking enrolments

University of New Orleans (UNO) and Southern University New Orleans (SUNO) will be particularly hard hit due to their enrollment declines over the past few years. Some faculty remain hopeful that the legislators will be able to pull a rabbit out of the hat before the end of the session in June, but the legislators and Governor Jindal show no signs of changing current and proposed cuts.

New BS degree in Geographic Information Science and Technology (GIST)

Texas A&M has created a new undergraduate BS degree in Geographic Information Science and Technology (GIST). Students have to choose one of three tracks to specialize in: (1) Computation, Design and Analysis – programming [the best one, obviously]; (2) Earth Systems Analysis – remote sensing, terrain analysis, and geomorph; or (3) Human Systems and Society – GIS for everything human – .

As of this semester (the second since we started it), they already have 63 majors!

New Geography Minor

Tarleton State University (Stephensville, TX) will be offering its first minor in Geography in its history, starting this fall. If enrollments are robust, they have plans to develop a major in coming years.

New” PhD in Geography

As of fall 2015, The Department of Geography at Texas State University will drop the “Environmental” qualifier from their PhD in Environmental Geography degree and begin awarding PhDs in Geography.

Overall, all is well in SWAAG and we remain a stalwart, robust, and highly collegial division!  


2016 Annual Reports of the AAG Regional Divisions

Reports from Regional Councillors 

Richard Kujawa, chair of the regional councillors, provided a summary of regional division updates with the full reports to be provided on the Association website. The highlights that he presented for each region are as follow:

East Lakes

Extremely limited funding for replacing or hiring additional faculty and for purchasing improved and emerging technologies, especially Geo Info Systems and Remote Sensing. General decline in geography BA and MA majors over the last five years (although many departments still teach large and increasing numbers of service classes and students including those for general education requirements all students must meet).

Great Plains/Rocky Mountains

2016 GPRM Regional Meeting to be hosted by the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs on October 21-22. 2017 GPRM Regional Meeting to be hosted by the Department of Geography at the University of North Dakota (date TBA).

Middle Atlantic

The MAD-AAG, for the first time, is able to fully fund its student Geography Bowl Team (The Mad Hatters) to compete at the annual bowl competition in San Francisco. And to assist with this effort, the US Bureau of the Census, Geography Division, agreed to cover student team members’ AAG Conference registration fees. Marking two concurrent developments, Towson University is the new host for the Maryland Geographic Alliance and hosted the 2015 Annual MAD-AAG Conference (if not for the first time, then certainly the first time for most of the region’s current membership). Bringing together a record of almost 40 individual paper presentations, the keynote address drew attention to Baltimore’s negative international publicity following the death of Freddie Gray, in order to reveal new research that points toward opportunities to reverse Baltimore’s declining population and to revitalize the city’s urban fabric.

Middle States

Several departments have expanded, adding faculty, majors, and programs. The growth in programs is especially encouraging. Additions include a Sustainability MA (Binghamton), Meteorology & Climatology, BS (Delaware), Environmental Sustainability major (Oneonta), Geography A.S. (Monroe Community College), BS in GIS (Farmingdale), Geography BA (College of Staten Island), and a Professional Master’s in GIS (Temple). At the same time, there is much budget uncertainty and cutbacks. One major institution has had to eliminate travel funding for graduate students.

New England and Saint Lawrence Valley

In October 2015 Bridgewater State University hosted a successful regional meeting.  There were approximately 135 registrations with more than half registering as students.  Our keynote speaker this year, a tradition at NESTVAL to hold a public plenary, was Dr. Francisco Henrique de Oliveira from the State University of Santa Catarina in Brazil.  He delivered a fascinating talk on cadastral techniques and their impacts on land claims and property ownership in Brazil.  NESTVAL made a lifetime achievement award to Vernon Domingo whose tireless work on Geographic Education is known regionally and nationally through his work with the Massachusetts Geographic Alliance, his persistence, with colleagues, in trying to advance a state-wide curriculum in Geography, and through the Earth View touring globe. Our 2016 meeting will be held at Bishops University, near Sherbrooke, in the Province of Quebec.  NESTVAL while a region within the AAG is also a bi-national Geography Society and we work hard to keep our Canadian colleagues engaged in our work.  If you plan to attend, make sure you have a passport or enhanced license to cross the border.  Bienvenue au Quebec, La Belle Province!

Pacific Coast

Across the Pacific Coast Region there have been a number of new programs created within the past year. A sampling of these includes at the Univ. of Southern California an M.S. in Spatial Informatics and Ph.D. in Population, Health and Place; at San Diego State three new research centers with foci in social media data analytics, water resources and climate, and security; at Cal State, Northridge a new curriculum on Water resources with 7 new courses; at Cal State Chico a new B.S degree; at Pierce College an AA-T in Geography (Associate in Arts degree in Geography for Transfer) and an AA degree in GIS; at Portland State a new minor in Water Resources; at San Francisco State a new B.S. in Environmental Science; and at the Univ. of Washington a new online Masters in and Sustainability Management. On the whole there has been more growth in new faculty than loss of positions, a welcome new trend following the severe budget cuts of a few years ago. At least eight departments indicate new hires (Univ. of Washington, Chico State, UCLA, UC Davis, Univ. of Nevada, Reno, Univ. of Oregon, Arizona State and Oregon State) which appear in most cases to be new additions to the faculty.


The division’s Steering Committee approved the appointment of Hilda Kurtz and Deepak Mishra at the University of Georgia as the new editors of the SouthEastern Geographer. The journal is

published quarterly, has a robust queue of submissions, and continues to be managed and printed by the University of North Carolina Press. The incoming editors have discussed options for the journal name and publishing arrangements with the Steering Committee. The SEDAAG Executive Committee has discussed the name of the division in light of the AAG name change effective January 1, 2016. This topic will be considered further at the 2016 meeting.


The University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University have proposed a New Mexico Joint Doctoral Program in Geography, to be offered collaboratively. The proposal is going through the review process on both campuses and will spend at least a year going through the approval processes on each campus before moving on to state-level review, pending institutional approval.  Both departments are very excited about the PhD proposal. The program will focus on integrative human-environment dynamics and is designed to ensure that students master both theory and praxis, thus preparing them for scholarly and leadership roles within the academy and beyond. The University of Oklahoma Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability developed an MS in Geography and a Graduate Certificate in Geospatial Information Technologies.

West Lakes

While many states in the region are struggling with budget cuts, the state of Illinois’ continuing failure to pass a budget has resulted in no state funding for any Illinois institution of higher education to date during the current fiscal year. Western Illinois University has put faculty and other employees on furlough or layoffs; Eastern Illinois University is deferring salary payments in addition to staff layoffs; and Chicago State University may not remain open for the current semester. Private universities such as DePaul and Augustana are affected as well, as state grants for low-income students are not being disbursed, and universities are providing the funding themselves. On a brighter note DePaul University won the first AAG Program award and Illinois State University received an Honorable Mention. Congratulations to both programs.Additionally, a new concentration in the Geography BA, geohumanities, also awaits regents’ approval.