The American Association of Geographers (AAG) is committed to enhancing diversity, promoting inclusion, and broadening participation in Geography. We are open, welcoming and encouraging of differences in perspectives across the broad spectrum of backgrounds or origins within our membership. An organization where everyone feels valued and possesses a keen sense of belonging, creates a vibrant community and advances the discipline of Geography.
Here we provide a record of the past, current, and upcoming efforts to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion at the AAG. The Diversity and Inclusion Committee advises and shapes these efforts. In 2020, AAG’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee renewed this commitment by developing a three-year strategic plan for the AAG. Once approved by the Council, this plan will provide a clear action plan to enhance and measure diversity and inclusion.
News and updates
- JEDI web page — New JEDI Committee page on AAG’s redesigned website
- JEDI strategic plan framework — Committee plan approved by Council
- JEDI strategic plan — Committee provided progress report at April 5-6 Council Meeting
- Diversity page — Update of Diversity page on aag.org
- AAG statement — The AAG released a statement condemning targeted violence against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community in response to the murders in Atlanta
- Membership Forms Review — Mark Revell shared draft changes to the AAG membership form for JEDI Committee review and discussion
- Accessibility Task Force — Accessibility Task Force shared draft report with JEDI Committee for review
- JEDI Committee Leadership — JEDI Committee formally assumed full leadership for the strategic plan, supplanting the need for a separate task force
- Open Letter — Specialty Groups released open letter calling for change at the AAG.
- AAG Council Response to Open Letter — the AAG Council responded to the SG Chair open letter
- SG Chair Meeting — AAG staff calls meeting with chairs of Specialty Groups with connection to diversity to discuss the potential involvement in Diversity Strategic Plan (review the minutes)
- Council meeting — The AAG Council votes to establish a Diversity Strategic Plan. This three-year plan will commit the organization to specific, funded, staffed actions
- Call for Transformative Justice — Black Geographies Specialty Group releases call to action in response to white supremacy through policing
- JEDI Committee — JEDI Committee elects co-chairs, Lisa Marshall and Ronald Schumann, begins work with AAG Executive Director on diversity strategic plan; committee agrees to play a major role in the task force
- AAG Anti-racism Letter — The AAG released a statement in response to the death of George Floyd.
- AAG statement — The AAG released a statement in response to the rising anti-Asian racism related to COVID-19
This committee coordinates and facilitates ongoing JEDI initiatives to enhance diversity and inclusion excellence. Diversity and inclusion in this sense is envisioned in its broadest demographic definition, indicating, ethnic, gender, disabilities, and other underrepresented groups and also diversity in thoughts, ideas and perspectives. The committee also considers nominations and selects awardees of the Glenda Laws Award to recognize outstanding scholarly contributions to geographic research on social issues and provides nominations to the AAG Council for the AAG Enhancing Diversity Award to honor those who have pioneered efforts toward or actively participated in efforts toward encouraging a more diverse discipline.
The JEDI Committee is guiding the development of the three-year JEDI strategic plan. This plan will define the improvement areas we want to address and define thoughtful strategies and proposals for D&I Initiatives in order to enhance sustainable justice, equity, diversity and inclusion excellence. As part of the planning process, we will identify short, medium and long-term JEDI-specific actions that can enhance JEDI excellence for AAG.
- Lisa Marshall — co-chair
- Ronnie Schumann — co-chair
- Shannon O’Lear
- Debarchana Ghosh
- Meghan Cope
- Tom Crawford
- Paul McDaniel
- Sanober Mirza
- Alicia Lazzarini
- Wan Yu
- Wei Li
- Jack Swab
Our efforts through the years
Several efforts underway at AAG address diversity issues directly. In addition, AAG is working to integrate diversity and inclusion into all of its programming.
Current projects that specifically highlight diversity include Encoding Geography, which works with school districts and instructors across disciplines to broaden the diversity of geographers and to equip them with computational skills and Powerful Geography, which offers teaching and learning tools to connect geography to the most relevant topics for students of many backgrounds. AAG also offers numerous awards to recognize excellence in teaching and research toward diversity, inclusion, social equity, and anti-racism, among them the Enhancing Diversity Award, the Harold M. Rose Award for Anti-Racism Research and Practice, and the Glenda Laws Award.
Through its job and career initiatives, policy stances, responses to current events, and themes in its journals, AAG frequently highlights how racialization, gender discrimination, ableism, marginalization and the need for inclusion have shaped or been shaped by the geographic discipline. In 2020, AAG participated in critical sign-on letters that have promoted dialogue and reflection on AAG’s role in expanding diversity and inclusion in the field:
- AAG’s letter calling for action to combat anti-Asian-American/Pacific Islander racism
- AAG’s response to the murder of George Floyd and the need to reflect on AAG’s role in addressing anti-Black racism
- Black Geographies Specialty Group Call for Transformative Racial Justice in response to AAG’s letter
- Support and Response Letters from 36 of AAG’s 70+ specialty groups
During 2020, AAG’s COVID-19 Rapid Response Task Force supported geographers during pandemic, especially students, and focused elements of its programming on the disproportionate impact on BIPOC students. In particular, AAG committed $225,000 to Bridging the Digital Divide, which provides technology support for undergraduate students at Minority Serving Institutions, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Tribal Colleges and Universities, to obtain hardware and software for their classes.
AAG also recently culminated a three-year process with the revision of its Code of Conduct to create a harassment-free environment not only at its meetings but in the field, imposing new penalties for violations and putting in place training, support, and intervention frameworks to eliminate harassment from its gatherings.
Michigan State University. The report, An Action Strategy for Geography Departments as Agents of Change, summarizes findings, including a history of the specific actions and actors who have worked toward greater diversity in the discipline and at AAG, going back to the 1960s. Although the report’s primary purpose was to document progress made toward its goals since 2003, it also provides a detailed portrait of events and trends affecting diversity in the discipline, notably the rapid diversification of the United States, factors that influence recruitment of students, and the critically low proportion of BIPOC students and professors in academia. These data can provide an important baseline from which to measure the success of future efforts to diversify geography.
Two recent AAG task forces have made recommendations that support elements of inclusiveness in terms of, respectively, mental health in the discipline and harassment prevention/intervention. The recommendations of the latter task force have been incorporated into our Code of Conduct.