Responding to the Critical Moment

Person holding their hands in the shape of a heart with sunlight in background

By Risha RaQuelle, Chief Strategy Officer

Photo of Risha Berry

This month, we are sharing more information about AAG’s Research Partnerships Initiative, and specifically the current Request for Partners (RFP) for Targeted Mentoring Networks. During AAG’s months of development around these initiatives, as well as the discussions and insights offered by participants at AAG 2024, I was reminded of a term that is often used and sometimes comes under fire, yet is seldom fully understood. That word is “critical.”

In her recent column on the importance of language and terminology in education, outgoing chair Dr. Caroline Nagle of the AAG’s Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) committee discussed the temptations and pitfalls to “rebranding” a word or concept that is attracting pressure and attention. She was speaking primarily of the terms associated with Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), but could easily have been speaking of a word  like “critical,” which has been a flashpoint for ideological attacks on everything from educational goals for critical thinking to the development of critical race theory, a legal concept widely misidentified with all race-conscious educational efforts.

It turns out that “critical,” like the discipline of geography itself, is a complex, multi-faceted concept, oversimplified in the public eye. Its surprising origins and shades of meaning are worth exploring as we become more proactive and responsive to ways to strengthen and support the talented people who should be—and stay—in our field.

In last month’s column, I spoke of the fact that cultures of care do not, typically, simply come together because someone just thought it was a good idea. All too often a critical incident reveals the harmful inadequacy of a system or community to meet the needs of all people, whether in a department or program or at an institution itself. A culture of care is initiated because something happened, someone was excluded or harmed, and care must be prioritized to prevent the event repeating. Here, the root meaning of critical matters greatly: from the Greek medical word krisis, meaning a point at which a patient can either improve or worsen. These incidents are decisive points in which we can choose to address harm and strengthen our support systems, or permit the harm to metastasize instead. Notably, crisis and critical are also related to krinein, meaning “to separate, decide, judge…distinguish.”

These meanings suggest a specific perspective for our work of care and transformation in geography. We are challenged as never before to reflect, respond, speak, and intervene where we can by using observation and discernment; to collectively and individually identify the critical moments that point to an urgent need for action.

Collective Care in a Time of Constraint

The reality now is that many of us are working in environments where it can be hard or impossible to meet these needs directly because the very act of speaking up, naming issues and specific incidents, or confronting systemic issues has been hampered by formal or informal silencing, policies against DEI training and activity, and the like. That is why it will be ever more important for the AAG to support and lead proactively, to put the elements of care in place and monitor progress through our JEDI Committee and research partnerships.

We know that critical incidents do not magically go away in the memory or in the present reality of our lives. They remain part of the work—hopefully a catalyst, but often an obstacle. We must support one another with caring strategies to help us share knowledge, co-create, organize, and make the discipline better.

Explore the AAG Targeted Mentoring Network Effort

Mentoring is one of many important areas of educational and professional support, with powerful potential to detect, correct, and hopefully prevent critical incidents, along with its value for the important decisions about research and careers. Yet mentoring is often thought of as one-dimensional, as a classic one-to-one and one-way relationship of an experienced sage to new acolyte. AAG is seeking new ways to energize the practice of mentorship, and specifically to seek partnerships to co-identify grant funding to seed and support ways to mentor geographers with more sensitivity to their identities, needs and aspirations, life experiences, and backgrounds through creating partnerships to develop Targeted Mentoring Networks.

With the leadership of the Targeted Mentoring Network (TMN) Working Group, and the support of the incoming AAG president Patricia Ehrkamp, chair of the AAG Mentoring Task Force, we have issued the first formal Request for Partnership (RFP) of our Research Partnership Initiative, focused on targeted mentoring networks (TMNs). We are open to your ideas for a variety of TMNs, and we believe in a plurality of answers that allow participants to acknowledge certain aspects of their career identity, inclusive of their positionality, and intersectionality.  Finding guidance through the unbeaten pathway of our interdisciplinary field often requires more than one mentor. Through the options explored in the TMN initiative, we hope that geographers will be able to connect to any number of TMN they identify with, helping them build their “Mentor Map.”

Join us in exploring what the Targeted Mentoring Networks effort can become. The RFP is active through August 5. We encourage you to learn more and apply.

This award is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Award No. 2324401 and Award No. 2324402. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

The AAG Culture of Care column is an outreach initiative by the AAG JEDI Committee. Don’t forget to sign up for JEDI Office Hours. The current theme of Office Hours is An Ethos of Care in the Research Enterprise.


Program Profile: University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa

University of Hawai‘i Manoa GEO department students and faculty pose for a photo in the field on Kaho'olawe (Courtesy David Beilman)
University of Hawai‘i Manoa GEO department students and faculty pose for a photo in the field on Kaho'olawe. (Courtesy David Beilman)

During the 2024 Annual Meeting, AAG staff sat down for an interview with Reece Jones, professor and chair of the Department of Geography and Environment in University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s College of Social Sciences. The Department of Geography and Environment (GEO) is a vibrant academic community that focuses on global change and its local impacts on humans and the environment. Faculty and students pursue work that is inherently interdisciplinary, making various connections through other departments and units on campus. Many of GEO’s student and faculty research centers around Asia and the Pacific.

From political geographers to GIS specialists and environmental scientists, the breadth of faculty and course work offers undergraduates the chance to gain a holistic understanding of the discipline and do the necessary fieldwork or research to pursue career opportunities. GEO also offers world-class coursework and applied geographic research under two advanced degrees, a Master of Arts and a Doctor of Philosophy. Students of all levels engage in research on topics ranging from agriculture and food, climate change, and environmental conservation to geopolitics, geospatial sciences and data analytics, and tourism.  The department also offers a popular new certificate in GIS for undergraduate students in any program.

GEO partners with departments across the university to offer an accelerated, interdisciplinary online degree in Social Sciences of Oceans, with applications for resource management, city planning, community organizing, environmental consulting, and policy analysis. Similarly, a flexible Graduate Ocean Policy Certificate is available for students or working professionals through the department to broaden their understanding of the legal, political, economic, and social forces that affect ocean development activities.

Collaboration and Community

UH-Mānoa strives to create a community-minded environment: “We try to do our best to have kind of a collaborative relationship between graduate students and faculty so that they feel like they’re colleagues in a way [and] part of this kind of endeavor to do their research and carry out their projects.”

Jones offers the example of GEO professor Camilo Mora, whose graduate seminar is far from a typical semester seminar experience. Students collaboratively brainstorm a major question they want to answer at the beginning of the semester, then do the research and analysis together that results in a joint publication with Dr. Mora. “Major publications have come out of that class,” Jones states. “Camilo has done a really good job of bringing students into this research project and work together with them to produce very significant articles.”

University of Hawai‘i Manoa GEO department students and faculty participate in community work day in a lo'i. (Courtesy David Beilman)
University of Hawai‘i Manoa GEO department students and faculty participate in community work day in a lo’i. (Courtesy David Beilman)

Program faculty incorporate professional development skills directly into coursework. Incoming graduate students participate in a mentoring program to prepare for developing and maintaining crucial professional development skills in hopes of answering questions such as “How do you go to a conference? How do you present a paper at a conference? How do you publish a journal article? How does the academic job market work? How do you get a non-academic job?”


Care for the Land

The University of Hawai‘i has a focus on being a Native Hawaiian (Kānaka Maoli) place of learning, “bringing in Native Hawaiian thought, indigenous thought and experiences into the way that we do things,” says Jones. GEO faculty work to integrate Native Hawaiian thought and knowledge into teaching, even if that’s not central to their research focus.

In Hawai‘i, Native Hawaiian concepts are important to the way that people see the world. One often integrated into education programs is “Mālama ʻĀina,” or to care for and honor the land. “For Native Hawaiians, the land is an ancestor. That way of seeing the world is to recognize the relationship between people and the environment, and not to think of them as separate, but rather as integrated and dependent upon each other,” Jones states. “And geography as a discipline, that’s exactly what it aspires to do.”

Taken together, the educational experiences made possible by GEO at UH-Mānoa have prepared graduates for careers in academia, government service, NGOs, and the private sector in Hawaiʻi and worldwide. GEO has provided alumni with the skills to shape new (and traditional) ways of caring for the earth and human societies. For example, several graduates are now faculty in the Hawai‘inuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, the only college of Indigenous knowledge in a Research I institution in the United States.

University of Hawai‘i Manoa GEO department students and faculty stop to pose for a photo at at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, near Hilo, Hawai'i. (Courtesy David Beilman)
University of Hawai‘i Manoa GEO department students and faculty stop to pose for a photo at at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, near Hilo, Hawai’i. (Courtesy David Beilman)



Annual Meeting 2024: Expectations and Anticipation

Person holding their hands in the shape of a heart with sunlight in background

By Risha RaQuelle

Photo of Risha Berry

As I reflect on AAG’s work from last year’s annual meeting to this year’s, one word of many come to mind: Transition.

We, members, leaders, and staff of AAG, are living and enduring many transitions, both globally and locally. Yet these transitions require us to continue momentum: Momentum in our reflection and commitment to our core value systems and in our collective call to action through our research, teaching, and service.

It is hard enough to effect transition in the institutions, systems, and ethical frameworks in which we operate. Added to this are the personal and professional transitions always churning in our own lives, sometimes all at once. It can be hard to see a clear dividing line for some, as for example the campuses and organizations where we work experience challenges and shocks to their traditional ways of doing business, challenges in which we too can be caught up.

None of our efforts are possible without you. We are grateful for your partnership.


Opportunities to Get Involved

The annual meeting offered us numerous opportunities to elevate our  voices, particularly within the framework of research and scholarship. A throughline is the set of opportunities to partner with AAG in research and to elevate a care ethic in research, particularly at institutions that sometimes have challenges to their ability to compete with larger R1 institutions. Here are just a few possibilities for you to get more involved in effecting this kind of change in our discipline:

  • Request for Partnerships (RFP). We hosted a session and a set of workshops to acquaint participants in the new AAG Request for Partnerships initiative, as a direct result of our commitment to care in the academy and our collective community at the AAG. The first formal RFP is active through August 5, and focused on targeted mentoring networks. Learn more and apply.
  • Convening of Care. Culminating in a forum of 30 participants in September, the Convening aims to shift the presumptive practices of the research enterprise toward policies and systems informed by an ethos of care. Although the first open round for participation closed May 1, we continue to seek applicants representing specific cohorts of experience among researchers. Find out more.

One of the most valuable discussions that grew from our sessions were the observations of participants who pointed out gaps in our proposed approach, which does not explicitly acknowledge how often a precipitating event creates the need to consider and enact a care ethic. Care is an act of benevolence, but more than that, it is an act of concern that stems from a root cause that has revealed an uncaring environment. As participants observed, a precipitating event is often the catalyst toward creating a caring environment. These are what I call critical incidents. These critical incidents are lived experiences that scholars and professionals experience as they navigate access to organizational or institutional resources.  In our discussions at AAG 2024, this was illuminated by participants who shared their lived experiences during the session, including experiences they have had at the AAG.

Our Core Value of and Ethos of Care

This discussion of care, what it means and how best to bring it to the foreground,  brings us back to our association, our membership, our community of values in geography, the value of membership, convening, and collective action. Beyond the career advancement, networking, and ability to stay apprised of development in the field, being part of AAG offers the possibility–the beauty—of making an impact in the work we each do.

In the wake of an amazing meeting, meeting new people and current colleagues both virtually and in person, I ask that you continue to reach out.  Continue to show up. Continue to respond to the calls to actions.

Specifically, we will seek new members for the JEDI Committee and its seven TLC-GRAM subcommittees. Find out more about what we are doing, what we aim to do, and how your vision can be integrated into that work.

Our commitment is to be intentional about identifying timelines for engagement and involvement.  By this meaning, when we ask for your service, we will set deadlines for completion of that service and apply our own principles of care to the whole person you bring to the work.  We understand that all of us are being pulled in many fruitful and challenging directions.  We strive to respect your time with respect to these efforts.

With many thanks and inspiration, as I close out this column and continue to issue the call to action and collaboration.

The AAG Culture of Care column is an outreach initiative by the AAG JEDI Committee. Don’t forget to sign up for JEDI Office Hours. The current theme of Office Hours is An Ethos of Care in the Research Enterprise.


Community College Geography and Geographers: An Opportunity for Elevating the Discipline

Apples lined up on a flat surface; Credit: Isabella Fischer, Unsplash

By Mike DeVivo
Grand Rapids Community College

Mike DeVivoOften underemphasized in higher education is the important role played by community colleges, which continue to be responsible for the education of 38% of all American undergraduates enrolled in public colleges and universities. Although David Kaplan’s presidential address and the AAG strategic plan have accentuated their importance, two-year institutions largely remain an untapped resource for our discipline. Enlisting community college faculty as fellow partisans engaged in the fight to keep geography as an imperative discipline on the higher education landscape has merit, for enrollment declines have occurred across the U.S. and geography programs remain at risk of termination; in many regional institutions, which nationwide have seen a 4% drop in enrollment during the past decade, this is a critical issue. Moreover, community colleges do much in contributing to the mission of advancing justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion.

The demographic attributes of community college students contrast sharply with those in traditional institutions of higher learning; 30% are first generation, 16% are single parents, 5% are veterans, and 21% have disabilities. In terms of undergraduate underrepresented populations overall, community colleges enroll 52% of Native Americans, 48% of Hispanics, 39% of Blacks, and 34% of Asian Pacific Islanders. For a majority of community college students, working one or two jobs while pursuing studies is a way of life.

Community college transfer students make up 20% of the overall undergraduate enrollment in public four-year institutions; in California, it is 25%, and in Florida, it is 33%. Once community college students have transferred to four-year institutions, their retention rate of 81% is higher than that of other transfer students, as well as those who began as freshmen; 68% of associate degree recipients are awarded bachelor’s degrees within four years of entering their selected transfer institution.

Although the average student in a two-year institution is 28 years of age, community colleges are also responsible for the education of many high school students; 34% of secondary school students complete college courses prior to their high school graduation. The number taking geography courses at community colleges is not small, and their interest in pursuing geography as a major at four-year institutions is growing. Certainly, their exposure to the discipline contributes to an expansion of geography majors in transfer institutions, as does the exposure of our field to the non-traditional students making up the lion’s share of enrollment in community colleges.

Non-traditional students are increasing in importance as traditionally aged college students are declining. The National Center for Education Statistics has forecasted a 2.1% decrease in high school student enrollment between 2020 and 2030; further declines are likely in the following decade. Geography programs in both two-year and four-year institutions stand to benefit much from establishing close partnerships, which is likely to increase undergraduate enrollments in each; but it is more than just a numbers game. Expanding the presence of geography enhances opportunities to diversify the discipline, demonstrate its value to society, and educate knowledgeable public citizens. As the onus of responsibility in building these relationships must be placed equally upon the shoulders of the faculty at both two-year and four-year institutions, discussed below are some prudent considerations.

General Education and Transfer. Geography can play an important part in the general education curricula of the institutions in which the discipline persists, for unlike most disciplines, geography courses can be listed among those meeting Social Sciences, Natural Sciences, and Diversity requirements. Moreover, general education course enrollments often validate the presence of geography programs and provide opportunities for attracting majors. Expanding the number of general education geography courses at four-year institutions increases the discipline’s exposure, and developing corresponding courses at two-year institutions does the same. Ensuring their transferability is imperative.

Distance Education. Enhancing distance education at both community colleges and their corresponding transfer institutions is a must; creation of online, hybrid, and short-term residency courses can accommodate student needs. More than 40% of community college students complete most of their coursework online, and for some it is a necessity; 12% do not have the means to commute to the classroom and 9% must care for a family member. As bachelor’s degree distance education programs in geography are limited, developing affordable options to meet the needs of community college transfer students brings considerable benefit to the discipline.

Teaching and Mentoring. Not only is interactive engagement expected, but teaching and mentoring are also attributes that enhance learning, such as empathy, understanding, and compassion. Likely, most college students are characterized by three or more adverse childhood experiences, which can markedly affect academic performance. Faculty are tasked with adopting some level of flexibility while also maintaining academic rigor. By establishing mutually respectful academic relationships, geography faculty in community colleges can assist promising students to gain awareness of the opportunities the discipline has to offer, which should not only include entry-level employment prospects, but also graduate school assistantships and fellowships. Of course, collaboration with transfer institutions does much to facilitate success.

GTU & VGSP. As one of the few honor societies endorsed by the Association of College Honor Societies that charters chapters in community colleges, Gamma Theta Upsilon’s presence can play a role in elevating the status of geography. A GTU chapter not only enhances the visibility of the discipline, it provides students a forum in which they can plan conference presentations, raise funds for travel, and make contributions to the local community, such as spearheading food drives for children in poverty, and engaging in service in other ways. Moreover, the Visiting Geographical Scientist Program, administered by the AAG and funded by GTU, provides an opportunity for faculty and students in two-year and four-year institutions to collaborate in co-hosting visiting speakers. These kinds of partnerships can be effective in recruitment of majors and showcasing geography to administrative leaders and members of the public. As two-year institutions tend to have close ties to local communities, community college geographers can play an important role in facilitating the town and gown relationships with geography faculty in local four-year institutions.

Academic Conferences. Annual meetings of the AAG in addition to those of its regional divisions, and state geographical societies (e.g., California Geographical Society) provide opportunities for faculty and students from academic institutions of all types to confer, present their research, and engage in the relationship-building that contributes to the success of academic geography.

Indeed, the AAG plays a critical role here, for among other things, elevating the discipline tasks the organization’s leadership to elevate the status of regional division annual meetings. Moreover, the organization must demonstrate both vitality and value to all academic geographers, many of whom have been on the hinterlands of American higher education for years. Urgent action is needed to address some of the 21st century changes in higher education that can adversely impact academic geography and the “health” of departments.” Developing community college-university alliances will not resolve all—or even most—issues facing geography programs; but these kinds of partnerships carry the potential to do a lot in the shaping of healthy departments.


American Association of Geographers. 2023. AAG Strategic Plan: 2023-2025. Washington, DC: American Association of Geographers.

American Association of Geographers. 2022. The State of Geography. Washington, DC: American Association of Geographers.

American Association of Community Colleges. 2023. Fast Facts 2023.

Brenan, M. 2023. Americans’ Confidence in Higher Education Down Sharply. Gallup (11 July).

Fry, R & Cilluffo, A. 2019. A Rising Share of undergraduates are from Poor Families, Especially at Less Selective Colleges. Pew Research Center (May).

Gardner, L. 2023. Regional Public Colleges are Affordable—but is that enough to draw students? The Chronicle of Higher Education: 28 July.

Kaplan, D. 2023. Who Are We? Redefining the Academic Community. Annals of the American Association of Geographers 113 (8): 2003-2012.

National Center for Education Statistics. 2024. Digest of Education Statistics, 2022. Washington, DC: US Department of Education.

Velasco, T. et al. 2024a. Tracking Transfer: Community College Effectiveness in Broadening Bachelor’s Degree Attainment. New York: Community College Research Center.

Velasco, T. et al. 2024b. Tracking Transfer: Four-Year Institutional Effectiveness in Broadening Bachelor’s Degree Attainment. New York: Community College Research Center.

The Healthy Departments Committee provides engaged guidance and action that enhances the future health and excellence of academic geography departments across the country. Take advantage of our resources and get your voice heard.


AAG Welcomes Convening of Care Graduate Fellow

Shaun Johnson close-up photoAAG is proud to welcome a graduate fellow who will be assisting in the planning and implementation of the Convening of Care, taking place in Washington, D.C., September 19-20, 2024. We would like to extend a warm welcome to Shaun Johnson.

Shaun Johnson (he/him) is a Ph.D. Student in Geography at the University of Kansas studying under Dr. Barney Warf. He earned his B.S. in Geography and Political Science from Illinois State University and his M.A. in Geography from the University of Kansas. His professional interests include electoral and political geographies and the study of digital networks of care. Outside of academic pursuits, Shaun is interested in board games, reading, and the outdoors.

Shaun will be joining the team for the Convening of Care as a Graduate Fellow to assist in planning pre-and-post-convening activities, designing and delivering training modules, communicating with participants and stakeholders, and coordinating publications.

Learn more about the Convening of Care

This award is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Award No. 2324401 and Award No. 2324402. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


Grant Rodriguez Almani

By Emily Frisan

Meet Grant Rodriguez Amlani, a dedicated advocate for environmental justice and a strategic recruitment coordinator who has honed his expertise in environmental issues, waste management, and the pursuit of a circular economy.

Education: M.A. in Sustainability & Development (Southern Methodist University), B.S. in geography with minors in mathematics and Spanish (University of North Texas), A.A. in general studies (University of Arkansas at Little Rock).

Professional accolades include Circularity23 Emerging Leader, a 2022 Clinton Global Initiative University Fellow, and an Envision Sustainability Professional (ENV SP).

Describe your career path up to your current position, including the range of tasks and responsibilities you oversee.  

I graduated in May 2020, which is one of the worst times to graduate, regardless of what your major was. I’d always known I wanted to go into an environmental or sustainability kind of field. Those opportunities got lost, and there were hiring freezes. I went to interviews and then everything fizzled out, which was not unique to environmental work. Everybody kind of dealt with that.

I found my current job by nature of putting myself out there and networking in Dallas. The sustainability circles are close-knit, so once you start going out there and meeting people, it lends itself well to networking and whatnot.

Grant Rodriguez Almani and a colleague participate in a recycling cleanup while dressed in humorous costumes. Credit: Katie Sikora
Grant Rodriguez Almani and a colleague participate in a recycling cleanup. Credit: Katie Sikora

Now, I’m the environmental justice and recruitment coordinator of the U.S. Plastics Pact. Most of my focus is on sustainability, such as waste and recycling. The way it works is we have over 130 member organizations — we call them Activators. These range from cities like the City of Austin or Seattle, to Fortune 500 companies like Walmart, or L’Oreal, or ALDI, or Target, and everybody in between. Anybody that touches plastic packaging in the chain, whether they sell it, make it, or collect it at the end of its life, as well as other nonprofits, also engage.

My role is twofold. The recruitment piece is talking to potential organizations about participating in our work, and then the environmental justice piece is figuring out where environmental justice fits into a just transition to a circular economy for plastics packaging. In the work of sustainability and the circular economy, the justice and equity pieces tend to have been kind of shoehorned in at the end or after the fact. I’m really trying to challenge people to think about that in the design process: the products, the systems, the collection, and what kind of jobs are available.

What geographic knowledge is important and most useful for you in this position?

Something interesting that I’ve seen is that in the corporate sustainability world not everybody has a strong science or geography background. It might be somebody with a business or English degree, which is fine, but it [a degree in geography] helps to have that environmental understanding of how things like climate or ecosystems work and breaking those things down for society and communities.

Separately too are the human-environment interactions. Geography helps us to talk about how people interact to the environment, how people value things. For me, it’s translating that to say, ‘How are people approaching recycling’, ‘How do they think about reuse systems.’ I’m kind of allowing that geography foundation to level up.

When you look back at your education trajectory, how did you discover geography? How did you realize that it connects with your aspirations and your goals in life, maybe as an individual but also as a professional?

I had a winding path in undergrad. I started in construction engineering, then civil engineering, and then kind of just bounced around. I also transferred schools three times. I was at the University of Arkansas and then I was at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. It was there that, well, I was kind of like, ‘OK, I want to do environmental science.’

It took me five years to graduate and in my fourth year, I took my first geography class with Jess Porter, professor of geography at UA, Little Rock. Unfortunately, they [UA, Little Rock] didn’t have a full program, they just had the minor, so I ended up transferring back home to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, went to the University of North Texas, and finished out my geography major there.

Geography was never on my radar at all. I thought, ‘OK, it’s just maps and GIS’ and then realized, ‘oh, there’s actually a lot more to it.’ It was the perfect fit for what I needed.”


Are there any skills or information that you use for your work that you didn’t obtain through your academic training? If so, how and where did you obtain that?

I feel like there’s a lot that you learn on the job. Even though my first job wasn’t necessarily geography or sustainability focused, there are lots of skills that transfer like emailing, etiquette, and this whole world of virtual work, you know, in a COVID world, learning all of that. You just have to learn by doing.

The other essential thing was not boxing myself in. A lot of geography majors sometimes get this idea of, ‘I only took these classes, so I can only go do this job,’ when in reality, there’s so much you can do and so much you can learn. Even though you didn’t maybe learn it in a classroom, you can still put yourself out there and try to learn it now.

There’s like a lot of different pathways you can go, and the world is your oyster.”


What advice do you have for geography students and other early career professionals interested in a job like yours?

For this job, I probably wouldn’t have been aware of it. I put myself out there and networked with people, connected with them on LinkedIn, and then they happened to post about this job. So don’t be afraid to go talk to people, even if you may not know them. You should still talk to people with a genuine approach and friendliness, not just because they’re going to help you level up in your career.

Don’t be afraid to apply to jobs that don’t explicitly call out geography. If you’re scared about the experience and those types of things, I never had an internship. It’s doable without one. You can supplement that with the kind of story that you can tell about your journey and how you had your experience. Trying to go for volunteering, engaging on campus and organizations, or leading efforts in your community to gain leadership skills is also great. Just put yourself out there.

Learn more about what a degree in geography can do for you by reading more AAG Career Profiles and discover the resources we offer for your professional development journey.


Targeted Mentoring Networks

Call for Participation for the Convening of Care in Washington, DC

Person holding their hands in the shape of a heart with sunlight in background

By Risha RaQuelle

Photo of Risha Berry

I’m excited to share with you the Call for Participation for the upcoming Convening of Care, scheduled to take place in Washington, DC, September 19-20, 2024. Funded by the National Science Foundation and in partnership with the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) and the National Organization of Research Development Professionals (NORDP), the convening will bring together 30 participants from three different, key perspectives within the research enterprise: funding officers at colleges and universities, department chairs, and early-career geographers.

If you would like to attend, take a look at our Call and start your application.

The convening will lay the groundwork for alternative standards in the research enterprise — defined as the systems and activities that lead to funding and research — by asking participants to reconsider their work through an “ethos of care” framework. Based on work by Principal Investigator Emily Skop of UCCS has led, an ethos of care seeks to enhance practices and processes within the research enterprise and enable collaborators to confront and address the accepted norms of power and bias, and to “resolve to disrupt and transform those norms in a mutually beneficial, evolving and inspiring manner.”

We are especially eager to see participants from Emerging Research Institutions (ERIs), Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), and community colleges, who are often under-resourced yet most qualified to address the much-needed change to align institutional research activities with the goals of belonging, access, justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (BAJEDI).

Questions? You can sign up for Friday Office Hours to meet with me as one of the two Principal Investigators.

This award is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Award No. 2324401 and Award No. 2324402. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

The AAG Culture of Care column is an outreach initiative by the AAG JEDI Committee. Don’t forget to sign up for JEDI Office Hours. The current theme of Office Hours is An Ethos of Care in the Research Enterprise.


Pono Science

Healthy Departments Initiative