On the Map: Where Were You When?

Illustration showing Earth in the Early Carboniferous period by Christopher Scotese
Earth in the Early Carboniferous period. Source: Christopher Scotese

By Allison Rivera

It is no secret that the Earth has drastically changed throughout history, though it can be hard to capture evidence of its evolution. Thanks to the innovative work of software engineer Ian Webster, you can explore Earth’s transformations in real time. Webster created an interactive “Ancient Earth” experience using the revolutionary work of palaeogeographer Christopher Scotese.

I always wanted to build a time machine. These maps allow me to travel back through time.

—Christopher Scotese

Scotese’s love and inspirations for paleogeography began during his childhood, when he would dream of traveling back in time. He recalls his ambitions from a young age: “I have had an interest in Earth History since childhood. During my summer vacations (age 8-10), I started a journal entitled A Review of Earth History by Eras and Periods. I always wanted to build a time machine. These maps allow me to ‘travel back through time.’”

It was from these ideas that his Atlas project was born. The Paleogeographic Atlas project began during his undergraduate career at the University of Illinois (Chicago). It was first published as what could be described as “flip books,” with some computer animations. It was not until his graduate career when the Atlas was updated to include principal scientific areas such as plate tectonics, paleomagnetism, and paleogeography. Despite other paleogeographic maps having been published at the time, these maps were noteworthy. The Atlas Project was the first to illustrate plate tectonics and paleogeographic evolution of the Earth. Scotese was also the first person to write software to animate the history of plate motions. However, he did face some challenges along the way. He noted that the greatest obstacle of the project was that “It takes a long time to accumulate the knowledge and experience to tell this story.” He is now writing a book titled The History of the Earth System, allowing him to compile the mass of information he has accrued over the years. Scotese also knew that updating the maps was no easy feat, and, with the help of many colleagues, has continued to integrate new and improved scientific ideas into the Atlas.

Scotese made sure to take many ideas into account from various scientists. Having worked with paleoclimatologist Judy Parish to incorporate paleoclimatic interpretations in the reconstructions of the Earth, he was able to develop a parametric climate model. Furthermore, Scotese used linear magnetic anomaly data and satellite imagery to create a model for Mesozoic and Cenozoic plate and ocean basin reconstruction. While his work paved the way for the current knowledge and understanding of time periods such as the Mesozoic and Cenozoic, those such as the Paleozoic remain unknown. Here, the map is based on information and results presented in a symposium on Paleozoic Paleogeography. The oldest map of the Atlas was the last to be assembled, but is based on a model Proterozoic plate tectonics, developed by Scotese and other geographers. From this, they were able to conclude that the Proterozoic was a time of Rodinia supercontinent assembly and breakup. Each map incorporates some form of scientific data and knowledge, making it as accurate as possible.

Despite the amount of collaboration, research, and time that went into this groundbreaking project, Scotese describes it as ongoing. The Atlas only describes the current knowledge and understanding of ancient Earth. As with any science project, new data and findings are always emerging, which leads to the need for constant updates and improvements to the Atlas. To keep up with new information, Scotese has a vision for a digital Atlas. Combining scientific data with technology such as GIS will allow for not only improved user friendliness but also easier compilation of data. Programs such as Paleo-GIS will be the foundation for the next version of the Atlas. In addition, Scotese is working with a group of scientists to add other Earth System information such paleoclimate, paleoenvironmental, biogeographic, and palaeoceanographic information.

Even though Webster’s project is based on the old version of the Atlas, it still has many features that make it easy to understand and educational. His work gives people living in today’s world a sense of connectedness to the ancient earth through time.

View Christopher Scoteses’s website Explore Ian Webster’s visualization of Dr. Scotese’s work

 

DOI: 10.14433/2017.0134

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Aloha Aku, Aloha Mai: Aloha Given, Aloha Received

AAG Welcomes Spring 2023 Interns

Two new interns have joined the AAG staff this semester! The AAG would like to welcome Iman and Allison to the organization.

Photo of Iman SmithIman Smith is a junior at the University of Maryland, pursuing a B.S. in Geographical Sciences and a minor in Geographic Information Systems. Her areas of interest include agricultural monitoring and crop management, and global food security. In her spare time, Iman likes to travel, crochet, make pottery, and she also hosts a college radio show.

Photo of Allison RiveraAllison Rivera is a senior at the University of Connecticut pursuing a B.S. in Geoscience and a minor in Geography. She is mostly interested in geomorphology and physical geography and is currently completing a senior thesis on such topics. After graduation, Allison hopes to attend graduate school and pursue further research in the field of geomorphology. In her spare time, she enjoys watching cartoons, going for walks, and reading.

If you or someone you know is interested in applying for an internship at the AAG, the AAG seeks interns on a year-round basis for the spring, summer, and fall semesters.

Learn more about becoming an AAG intern
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Gerry A. Hale

Gerry Hale, a long-time, much-loved professor in the Department of Geography at the University of California, Los Angeles, died on October 14, 2022.

Born in 1933 in Los Angeles, Gerry (pronounced “Gary”) was raised in the neighboring city of Glendale. He attended UCLA as both an undergraduate and graduate student. In the early 1960s, while conducting fieldwork in Sudan, Gerry served as the Head Geography Master at Unity High School for Girls in Khartoum and as a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Khartoum. Before and after his time in Sudan, he also taught at the University of Southern California. In 1966, working under the direction of Dr. Joseph Spencer, he completed his Ph.D. dissertation on agricultural terracing in Sudan’s Darfur region. Soon thereafter, he joined the UCLA Department of Geography as a tenure-track faculty member.

A political and cultural geographer, Gerry’s teaching and research focused on technology, nationalism, the state, cultural hegemony, capitalism, anti-colonialism and empire, and Marxist geography. His regional specializations were in North Africa, the Middle East, and California.

Photo of Sondra and Gerry Hale in their house in Hai el-Matar, Khartoum, Sudan, 1961.Photographer: unknown.
Sondra and Gerry Hale in their house in Hai el-Matar, Khartoum, Sudan, 1961. Photographer: unknown.

A combination of factors—ranging from witnessing pervasive racial injustice in Glendale and exposure to the early years of postcolonial life in Lebanon (where he studied as a M.A. student) and in Africa, to the horrors of the U.S. war in Vietnam—radicalized Gerry. By the late 1960s, he saw himself as Marxist—politically as well as intellectually.

Consistent with his politics—a combination of democratic socialism, feminism, and anti-racism—Gerry was involved in Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography from its initial days. As the journal’s structure became more formalized, he served on the editorial board from 1978 to 1985.

Gerry’s politics also underlay his intense dedication to students. He was the advisor to approximately a dozen Ph.D. students who went on to academic careers, and to scores of Master’s students—in Geography as well as in the African Studies M.A. Program, for which he served as director for some years, and in the Center for Near Eastern Studies. He was also the Department of Geography’s undergraduate and graduate advisor during the 1990s. In these roles Gerry was known to be a strong supporter of women faculty and students.

Because of his politics, life at UCLA in Gerry’s earlier years as a faculty member were often difficult given the strongly conservative ethos that permeated the institution. Changing times and, more importantly, Gerry’s generous spirit, ethical character, collegiality, and dedication as a teacher of undergraduate and graduates alike eventually won over most, if not all, of his detractors. By the time of his retirement circa 1997, Gerry was a highly valued and universally appreciated citizen of the Department and the University as a whole; he was a member of some of the most prestigious bodies on campus, such as the Committee on Privilege and Tenure.

A strong sense of justice motivated much of what Gerry Hale did as a geographer. Many of those who were fortunate enough to take an undergraduate course with him, for example, learned about what happened to the predominately working class and Mexican-descended community of Chavez Ravine. Beginning in 1951, the City of Los Angeles used eminent domain to expel the area’s residents and raze their homes—in the name of public housing which never arrived. Instead, years later, the city sold the land to the Los Angeles Dodgers to build a baseball stadium.

As one former student, now a historian, recalled in relation to Gerry’s telling of the story, “When I was growing up in Echo Park (a Los Angeles neighborhood), I didn’t know this history. I don’t think most people know it today. I learned it once I got to UCLA, in a geography class with Gerry Hale. He was not even a Chicano, but a white man who engaged in a one-man boycott of Dodger Stadium, having made a personal commitment to never go to ballgames because of what had happened on the land on which Dodger Stadium sits.”

Gerry Hale is survived by his longtime partner, Sondra Hale, professor emeritus of Anthropology and Gender Studies at UCLA, and their daughters, Alexa and Adrienne, as well as by countless others whose lives he touched.


Provided by Garth Myers (Trinity College) and Joseph Nevins (Vassar College).

 

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Laurence Allan James

Laurence Allan James passed from this world in the loving arms of his sister and niece on the night of December 3, 2022.

Allan (AKA, A.J.) was born in Hollywood, California, on March 18, 1949, into a family of many geologists. His family moved to Sacramento in northern California in 1956. He was active in Little League baseball and later attended Mira Loma High School, where he was on the Honor Roll, elected Senior Class President, played basketball and ran on the cross-country track team. He also began to write songs and play guitar with his friends. The garage band at 4425 Glen Oak Court was infamous.

Photo of a young Laurence Allan James, Mira Loma High School yearbook, 1967

After high school, he interrupted his studies at University of California, Berkeley a number of times to pursue his singer-songwriter aspirations. Allan helped run a café on Bleeker Street in New York City and busked in Europe. He hitchhiked across the United States to greet his newborn niece.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in 1978 and moved to Madison, Wisconsin, where he pursued two Masters of Science degrees, in Water Resources Management and in Geography, with Jim Knox as his advisor. His Ph.D., also from the University of Wisconsin, was held jointly in Geography and Geology, with James C. Knox and David M. Mickelson as his dissertation advisors. While in Madison, he researched several family pioneers, including a Civil War hero who has a statue there.

Allan taught at the University of Wisconsin and in Atlanta, Georgia before moving to the University of South Carolina in 1988, where he was a professor in the Geography Department for three decades. He also served as Director of the BioGeomorphology Laboratory and Senior Associate in the Environment and Sustainability Program.

His teaching and research primarily focused on fluvial geomorphology with emphases on river sedimentation, floodplain and channel morphogenesis following human activities, interactions between alluvium and flooding, and the use of spatial analysis in geomorphology. Specific themes included investigations of hydraulic mining sediment in California, historical erosion by rills and gullies and floodplain sedimentation in the U.S. southeastern Piedmont, concepts of legacy (anthropogenic) sediment, Quaternary glaciations of the northwestern Sierra Nevada in California, geomorphometry and geomorphic change detection.

He was a member of national and international societies encompassing the field of geomorphology, including the Geological Society of America (GSA) and the American Association of Geographers (AAG) and received a number of Distinguished Career awards. The Southeastern Division and Water Resources Specialty Group of AAG honored him with Distinguished Career awards in 2018. The Geomorphology Specialty Group (GSG) of the AAG presented him with the Grove Karl Gilbert Award for Excellence in Research in 2015 and the Melvin G. Marcus Distinguished Career Award in 2023. (He was notified of the latter award by his friends prior to his death.)

Allan was predeceased by his parents, Laurence B. and Elizabeth M. James, and his brother Benjamin. He is survived by his sister Catherine (JJ) DeMauro, his brother Stephen, his niece Stacey Swatek Huie and her spouse Jeremy, their daughters Madeleine and Miriya, his ex-wife Myrna N. Skoda James, her sons Joseph Skoda, Jr. and Jesse Skoda, granddaughters Chloe and Kylie, and his beloved companion Dr. Marcia Ehinger.

According to his wishes, he will be cremated and interred in his parents’ plot at East Lawn Cemetery on Greenback Lane in Sacramento, California. Celebration of life events are planned at his sister’s home and at the AAG annual meeting in 2023.


Written by Dr. Marcia Ehinger

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Frederick John Simoons

Frederick John Simoons, Jr., a renowned cultural geographer, the latest-surviving of Carl Ortwin Sauer’s Ph.D. graduates, and an emeritus professor of Geography at the University of California, Davis, died on June 30, 2022, four months short of his one-hundredth birthday. He seems to have outlived most of his one-time graduate students.

 

Background and Education

Born on Nov. 2, 1922 in Philadelphia of World War I immigrant parents (Dutch and Flemish Belgian), Fred was raised in poverty in a single-parent home in a dangerous neighborhood of Newark, NJ. According to his one-time PhD student Daniel Wynne Gade (1936–2015; 1987b: 135), Fred’s parents’ European background and the neighborhood’s ethnic diversity contributed to the maturing child’s sense of culture in the anthropological sense.

Following stateside Army service during and just after World War II, he completed his AB in Sociology at Rutgers University but was impressed by courses taught there by the geographers Andrew Hill Clark (1911–1975) and William LeRoy Thomas, Jr. (1920–2002); accordingly, he declared a special interest in Geography. Simoons graduated in 1949, earning Highest Honors, and was named to The Phi Beta Kappa Society (Gade 1987b: 135).

He opted to take graduate work in Geography at the Berkeley-influenced University of Wisconsin-Madison. There, he met and married the librarianship student Elizabeth “Liz” Stadler (1925–2009), in April 1949. Still, sociology continued to appeal, and, supported by the GI Bill, Fred transferred to Harvard University’s Social Relations program—which included sociology, cultural anthropology, and psychology. There, impressed by a geography course taught by Derwent S. Whittlesey (1890–1956), Fred was stimulated to return to that field.

Obtaining a teaching assistantship at U.C. Berkeley, he removed to the famous Geography Department there, completing a 1952 master’s thesis under young James J. Parsons (1915–1997), “The Settlement of the Clear Lake Upland of California.” During his subsequent Ph.D. studies, he worked under the iconic pioneering cultural geographer Carl Ortwin Sauer (1889–1975), who had been fundamentally influenced by the writings of Romanticist German geographers, historians, and ethnologists and by his campus’s Germanic-American Franz Boas-trained anthropological colleagues Alfred Louis Kroeber (1876–1960) and Robert Harry Lowie (1883–1957; Williams, Lowenthal, and Denevan 2014). Fred absorbed Sauer’s Germanic historicist approach as well as the Old Man’s empiricism, very demanding work ethic, and surpassingly high academic standards.

Research

With Ford Foundation support, in 1953 Liz and Fred traveled to remote and risky northwestern Ethiopia to accomplish fieldwork for his dissertation, “The Peoples and Economy of Begemder and Semyen, Ethiopia” (1956), which emphasized horticulture. In 1960, the University of Wisconsin Press published the adaptation, Northwest Ethiopia: Peoples and Economy (reprinted by Greenwood Press in 1983).

Fred was fascinated by bovines and their religious roles. Office of Naval Research- and Guggenheim Foundation-fostered sabbatical fieldwork in southern Asia led to Fred and Liz’s learning of the mithan, a little-known bovine kept and used ritually by tribal peoples in India’s Assam hills. Subsequent library study resulted in UWP’s A Ceremonial Ox of India (Simoons with Simoons 1968).

Following their Abyssinian stint, for five months Fred and Liz had traveled widely across Subsaharan Africa. One result was that beyond domesticates and traditional farming, Fred had taken up an interest in food habits. His pioneering work on animal-food avoidances resulted in 1961 in the classic Eat Not This Flesh (Wisconsin; reprinted in 1981 by Greenwood). Thirty-three years later, in 1994, Wisconsin issued a revised and augmented edition. Numerous reviews and translations of Eat Not appeared.

Echoing the nineteenth-century German historian Eduard Hahn (1856–1928), Simoons stressed ritual and other non-economical motives for domestication and animal-keeping, contrary to the economic-adaptationist ideas of the cultural-ecological materialist anthropologist Marvin Harris and many others of the day (Simoons 1979).

Cattle, dairying, and milk are major themes in the Simoons oeuvre. At the end of the 1960s, Fred took note of the fact that adult lactose (milk-sugar) intolerance—the usual and genetically controlled human condition—did not pertain among select human groups, notably those having had a long history of dairying. Fred investigated further and, with three publications (Simoons 1969, 1970a, 1970b), first forwarded what came to be called the “geographic” or “culture-historical” hypothesis of the co-emergence of dairying and adult lactase-persistence, which affords the ability comfortably to digest lactose (milk sugar) past puberty (the chronologically lock-step nature of this has recently been questioned: Evershed et al. 2022). A flock of related studies followed, and Fred’s fame grew, including in medicine and in nutrition, and he collaborated with researchers in those fields. His final publication was on this topic (Simoons 2001). Simoons’s contributions in this area led to an above-step promotion and appointment as the UCD Academic Senate’s Faculty Research Lecturer for 1981, a top campus honor. In 1987, Fred’s old Wisconsin student Dan Gade edited a Simoons-Festschrift issue of the Journal of Cultural Geography (Gade 1987), including a bibliography (Simoons 1987)

Other food-habit and related topics also captured Fred’s attention over ensuing decades. Although knowing no Chinese, following extensive research, including field investigation with Liz, Fred produced Food in China: A Cultural and Historical Inquiry (Simoons 1991; translated into Chinese in 2003). In 1998, Wisconsin published his Plants of Life, Plants of Death, which dealt with plants culturally associated with ritual purity, fertility, prosperity and life, as opposed to those associated with ritual impurity, illness, ill fate, and death.

University Employment

Fred first taught as an instructor at The Ohio State University, staying but a year (1956–1957). The following nine years were passed at the Sauerian-flavored University of Wisconsin Department of Geography at Madison, which years saw rapid advancement to full-professorship, until the Louisiana State University Department of Geography and Anthropology recruited him (and Jonathan Sauer) in 1966; but, as in the case of OSU, he (like Sauer) left LSU after one academic year. There followed two academic years (1967–1969) in the University of Texas at Austin’s Department of Geography. Finally, in 1968 Simoons moved on to UC Davis’s Department of Geography, where he spent the remainder of his distinguished career, mentoring many graduate students, serving an effective term as departmental chair, and—after two decades of UCD employment, retiring in 1989. He and Elizabeth—1981 retiree as Branch Manager and Assistant County Librarian in the Yolo County Public Library system—moved to Olympia and then on to Spokane, WA. Fred continued to publish through 2001. Following Liz’s death in 2009, he established a domestic partnership with former Geography graduate student Helen Issel (1926–2021) and resided outside of Sonoma, CA. They both died at the Sonoma Retirement Home, he from complications following a stroke.

References Cited

Evershed, Richard P., et al.  2022.  Dairying, Diseases and the Evolution of Lactase Persistence in Europe.  Nature: International Journal of Science 608(7922): 336–45.

Gade, Daniel W.  1987.  Commentary: Frederick J. Simoons, Cultural Geographer.  Journal of Cultural Geography 7(2): 135–41.

Simoons, Frederick J.  1952.  “The Settlement of the Clear Lake Upland of California.”  Unpublished master’s thesis in Geography, University of California, Berkeley.

––––––1956.  “The Peoples and Economy of Begemder and Semyen, Ethiopia.”  Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation in Geography, University of California, Berkeley.

––––––1960.  Northwest Ethiopia: Peoples and Economy.  Madison:  University of Wisconsin Press

––––––, with Elizabeth S. Simoons.  1968.  A Ceremonial Ox of India: The Mithan in Nature, Culture, and History, with Notes on the Domestication of Common Cattle.  Madison:  University of Wisconsin Press.  

––––––1961.  Eat Not This Flesh: Food Avoidances in the Old World.  Madison:  University of Wisconsin Press; expanded 2nd ed. 1994.

––––––1969.  Primary Adult Lactose Intolerance and the Milking Habit: A Problem in Biological and Cultural Interrelations.  I. Review of the Medical Research.  The American Journal of Digestive Diseases 14(12): 819–36.

––––––1970a.  The Traditional Limits of Milking and Milk Use in Southern Asia.  Anthropos 65(3/4): 547–93.

––––––1970b.  Primary Adult Lactose Intolerance and the Milking Habit: A Problem in Biologic and Cultural Interrelationships.  II. A Culture Historical Hypothesis.  The American Journal of Digestive Diseases 15(8): 695–715.

______1979.  Questions in the Sacred-Cow Controversy.  Current Anthropology 20(3): 467–76. Williams, Michael, with David Lowenthal and William M. Denevan.  2014.  To Pass on a Good Earth: The Life and Work of Carl O Sauer.  Charlottesville:  University of Virginia Press.

––––––1987.  Research Publications,” Journal of Cultural Geography 7(2): 143–7.

––––––1991.  Food in China: A Cultural and Historical Inquiry.  Boca Raton, FL:  CRC Press.

––––––1998.  Plants of Life, Plants of Death.  Madison:  University of Wisconsin Press.

––––––2001.  Persistence of Lactase Activity among Northern Europeans: A Weighing of Evidence in the Calcium Absorption Hypothesis.  Ecology of Food and Nutrition 40(5): 397–469.


By Stephen C. Jett, University of California, Davis, scjett@hotmail.com

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AAG Action on Climate Change

Geography and Geographers in a Changing World

Photo of wind turbines on a farm by Karsten Wurth for Unsplash
Credit: Karsten Wurth for Unsplash

Photo of Marilyn Raphael by Ashley Kruythoff, UCLA

October and November are AAG Regional Meetings months, and I was preparing to go to my first as AAG President. As is customary, I asked what members would like to hear about, and was offered a number of different but related topics including “anything related to the future of geography and the role of the AAG.” The latter was especially important because a large proportion of the members attending the regional meetings are students — graduate and undergraduate. Instead of choosing a single topic, I integrated the two, and before I knew it, I had committed myself to speaking on Geography and Geographers in a Changing World.

Now, anyone looking at that title would instantly realize that this is not a 40-minute oral presentation; rather, it is the topic of a multi-authored manuscript (for example, this one) suitable for publication in a medium much like the Annals, or an edited book suitable for use in a “History of Modern Geography” class. In fact, a day or so after the presentation I casually googled the topic and found several related titles, including Gilbert White’s Geographers in a Perilously Changing World.

Graduate and undergraduate students in our discipline are trying to put their geographical education and their hopes for jobs into context as they prepare to leave university. They are entering a world that is more interconnected than ever — the speed with which information and misinformation are spread via social media is one example of that connectedness. Another is the reliance on mapping technologies for nearly everything, from finding the fastest route home through traffic to understanding public health trends. Our students face a world in which the economy is unstable, the global political state is tenuous, the climate is changing, and environmental degradation is a perennial problem. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, we have just experienced three years of a pandemic that has fundamentally changed the way we live and work.

Our students are so concerned about these issues that they are wondering how their geographic education is going to help them find jobs as well as answers to these pressing problems. Indeed, they are demanding a truly synthetic geography education that gives them a broad toolkit to tackle the world into which they will graduate. To meet their questions, it is worth reminding ourselves of who we are as geographers, from where we’ve come and to think about where we might be going. And how we fit into today’s world. It helps to take stock of what has happened in context, as we move to the next phase.

Changes in Geography and the AAG

“Change is a constant” is an overused phrase, but it is good to be reminded. Geography has been changing along with the world, very recently as well as over the last few decades. The discipline was once the static study of place concerned with how things are arranged on earth’s surface, with the map being the geographer’s tool. Geography’s quantitative revolution and the technological development of computers in the mid-20th century facilitated the development of geographic information systems (GIS), initially the tool of geographers but now used almost universally where spatial data analysis is needed. GIS, as well as new ways of thinking about things geographical, for example critical (human) geography and critical physical geography, means that geographers can ask different, arguably better, questions, potentially increasing the richness of their answers.

There has also been significant change in the leadership of the AAG, from one where men were far overrepresented, to one where women are more visible and active as leaders. The Association was founded in 1904. Seventeen years later, it elected its first female President. It took another 63 years before the second female president was elected (1984). Now, in the 21st century, a female president has become commonplace, so much so that I am the third female president in the last three years and next year there will be a fourth.

Other evidence of change within the AAG is apparent in the 2023 Annual Meeting theme: Toward More Just Geographies. This theme was chosen “in recognition of the urgency, centrality, and interdependence of equity, inclusion, diversity, and justice within our discipline and in the world” and reflects a core shift within the institution, matching changes that are occurring worldwide. This is not a singular action, but part of a fundamental change in the ways in which we operate. The AAG is now implementing a Council-approved 3-Year JEDI (justice, equity, inclusion and diversity) strategic framework.

The Outlook for Geography (as the Landscape Changes)

The point that I am making is that even with all of the changes that are occurring around us and within our organization, the core geographic ideas will not change. Geography, as in what we do, will change. A perfect example is how GIS has allowed us to ask new questions and to frame pre-existing questions differently, while still focusing on the richness of space moving from the static study of places on maps to the more revealing and arguably more interesting concepts such as the processes underlying the formation and interconnectedness of these places. A present-day working definition of geography is now closer to something like this: Geography examines human (e.g., social, cultural, economic, political) and physical (eg climatological, geomorphological, biogeographical) phenomena within the context of space, that is to say, how their location and their connections to others over space contribute to their characteristics and impacts and to the definition of the others.

The tools of geography are being used by other disciplines, and not just GIS. What I mean is that the interdisciplinary approach to understanding is becoming (or has become) commonplace. The contemporary movement in the social sciences, where I note many geography departments are housed, is towards addressing questions of global interconnection; migration, urbanization; environmental sustainability; climate change and its impacts, among others. There is a movement toward the use of more synthetic approaches to answer these questions. The synthetic approach is embedded in geography as is evident in the working definition that I outlined above and practiced in approaches like critical physical geography (and including critical remote sensing, qualitative GIS).

Finally, the demographic makeup of geographers is changing (or becoming more evident)

I am especially delighted that we see more geographers, representing many more identities: cultural, gender, ability/disability, and ethnic identities bringing with them a greater diversity of experience and knowledge. This expanding diversity means that different points of view are being introduced and incorporated into the body of geography. This can only make for a healthier discipline. There has never been a better time to be a geographer.

DOI: 10.14433/2017.0119


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 raphael [at] geog [dot] ucla [dot] edu to enable a constructive discussion.

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