Newsletter – February 2017


Creating and Preserving Actionable and Policy-Relevant Geography

By Glen M. MacDonald

Glen M. MacDonald

Ensconced in our academic environs, as students or as faculty, we are sometimes accused of being removed and aloof from the issues of the real world and our research regarded as being of purely scholarly interest. Indeed, there are times for many of us that this may be more than a little bit true. I certainly have not been immune to being intrigued by questions with no apparent implications for the practical problems of the here-and-now. However, today, as often has been the case over its long history, the discipline of geography is being called upon — and called out — because of its importance in identifying and addressing problems of the wider world. Three recent items in the news reminded me of the potential role of geographers and geography in addressing the myriad challenges swirling around us at the present time.

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Recent columns from the President


AAG Policy Action

The AAG continues to monitor and update members on key issues that have a clear impact on geography or in which our discipline can serve as a valued stakeholder in shaping viewpoints and policy outcomes. We are currently compiling the list of actions and responses by the AAG so far, and also information to help you take action within your communities:

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Mainstreaming Human Rights in Geography and the AAG

Mainstreaming-Human-Rights-courtesy-AAAS-272x300Nearly all geographers are concerned about human rights, and in their personal and professional lives seek meaningful ways to act on these concerns and values. The AAG and the discipline of geography intersects with human rights in numerous ways. This special theme within the 2017 AAG Annual Meeting will explore intersections of Human Rights and Geography, and will build on the AAG’s decade-long initiatives on Mainstreaming Human Rights in Geography and the AAG. An Interview with Noam Chomsky by Doug Richardson will keynote this theme at the 2017 Boston Annual Meeting.

This theme will feature 50 sessions with more than 250 presentations at the intersection of human rights and geography. Speakers from leading human rights organizations, academia, government, and international organizations will address human rights challenges around the world.

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James Hansen to Address Climate Change at AAG Annual Meeting

Hansen_James_profile-w-220x290James Hansen, known for his climate research and his Congressional testimony on climate change that raised awareness of global warming, will deliver a featured talk on climate change, moderated by AAG President Glen MacDonald, at the AAG annual meeting in Boston on April 7, 2017. Hansen received a B.A. in physics and mathematics, an M.S. in astronomy and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Iowa. From 1981 to 2013, he was the head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City. Currently, he directs the Program on Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions at Columbia University’s Earth Institute.

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David Harvey To Deliver Featured Lecture at AAG Annual Meeting in Boston

David Harvey, one of the most influential figures in geography and urban studies, and among the most cited intellectuals of all time across the humanities and social sciences, will deliver a featured lecture, “Marx, Capital and the Madness of Economic Reason,” on April 8, 2017, at the AAG Annual Meeting in Boston.

For geographers and non-geographers across many disciplines and languages, David Harvey has established the importance of space and uneven geographical development to the survival of capitalist accumulation, the perpetuation of inequality, and the rise of neoliberalism. His body of work demonstrates the highly creative and consequential place that geographers can have in engaging in and shaping broader transdisciplinary discussions and debates.

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AAAS Director Rush Holt to Address Challenges Facing Science at the AAG Annual Meeting

Rush D.Rush D. Holt, Ph.D., chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), will deliver a  featured talk on emerging opportunities and challenges that science will face in the coming years at the AAG annual meeting in Boston on April 6, 2017. Holt is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, and he holds M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in physics from New York University. He is an elected fellow of AAAS, the American Physical Society, and Sigma Xi, and he holds honorary degrees from multiple universities. He is also a former Congressman and Jeopardy Champion.

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Annual Meeting Preliminary Program Now Available Online

The online, searchable program includes a preliminary agenda of sessions, plenary speakers, and specialty group meetings. You can browse the program by presenter, keyword, title, or specialty group. You can also view sessions by day using the calendar of events. Please note that sessions and events for the 2017 Annual Meeting begin on Wednesday and conclude on Sunday.

Browse the program.

The Neighborhoods of Boston … and Beyond2382802009_45fdf69701

Every day is a new day in Boston. Parks and green spaces are sprouting up all over, new hotels have recently opened, and more are soon to break ground. New restaurants are joining Boston’s distinctive dining scene and the vibrant Seaport District has added to the city’s already dynamic downtown neighborhoods. The following is an overview of the many diverse neighborhoods in and around Boston.

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Celebrate the International Encyclopedia of Geography in Boston

Attend the editor’s panel and reception

he International EncyclopediaJoin us in celebrating the official launch of the International Encyclopedia of Geography: People, the Earth, Environment, and Technologies in Boston! There will be a brief overview of the Encyclopedia from its general editors, followed by a Q&A session with the general and section editors of this great work. Mark your calendars for 5:20-7:00 p.m. on Friday, April 7, 2017.

Following this session will be the AAG International Reception: A Celebration of the International Encyclopedia of Geography, an event with food, drinks, music, and interaction with the editors. All attendees are invited to attend.

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Abstracts for Poster Sessions are due by Feb. 23

Posters are exhibited for informal browsing with opportunities for individual discussion with poster authors. The AAG will host all themed poster sessions in the Exhibit Hall. Please note that the AAG will add your poster to the session which most closely aligns to your poster’s theme, however if you have a strong preference you may indicate in which poster session you would like to participate in in the “Special Requests” field of the abstract submission console. All abstracts must be submitted by Feb. 23, 2017.

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AAG Specialty and Affinity Group Awards

Each year many AAG Specialty and Affinity Groups confer travel grants, hold paper competitions, and bestow honors and awards to their faculty and student members at the AAG Annual Meeting. Notices for these competitions may appear on the relevant specialty group’s website or listserve, or on the AAG News site.

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Additional Annual Meeting Updates


Important Election Information: Voting Ends Feb. 2!

The AAG election will be conducted online again, and will take place Jan. 11-Feb. 2, 2017. Each member who has an email address on record with the AAG will receive a special email with a code that will allow them to sign in to our AAG SimplyVoting website and vote. It’s important to update your email address to make sure you will be able to vote. If you know your email address is up to date with us, there’s no need to do anything further.

Read about the candidates now.

Receive the African Geographical Review: Join the African Specialty Group

The African Geographical Review is an AAG journal edited by the Africa Specialty Group. It provides a medium for the publication of geographical material relating to Africa, seeks to enhance the standing of African regional geography, and to promote a better representation of African scholarship. Articles cover all sub-fields of geography, and can be theoretical, empirical or applied in nature.

Members of the AAG’s Africa Specialty Group receive a complimentary online subscription to the journal. If you are interested in receiving this journal, add membership in the African Specialty Group to your AAG membership for just $15 per year ($5 for students).

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Ryan Habron Interns at AAG for Spring Semester

Habron_Ryan-2017Ryan Habron is a senior at the University of Maryland pursuing a B.S. in Geographical Sciences. His focuses include GIS, Computer Cartography, and Remote Sensing. He hopes to use these skills to monitor transportation, and other urban planning tasks in his future career.

During his internship at the AAG, he will work on obtaining attestations from 250 high schools for a proposed AP GIS&T course. He will also work on other related programs and projects, including outreach, research, website and the Annual Meeting.

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Join the Effort to Make a New AP Course in GIS&T


The AAG’s proposal for a new Advanced Placement course in Geographic Information Science and Technology (AP GIS&T) continues to receive strong interest from high schools, colleges, and universities across the U.S. However, in order to complete the proposal package for the College Board, the AAG needs to collect attestations of interest from at least 250 high schools.

So far 127 high schools have registered their interest in the AP GIS&T course. The AAG invites all members to share the AP GIS&T proposal with high schools in their local community.

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AAG Calls for Nominations for Standing Committees

The AAG Council will make appointments to several of the AAG Standing Committees at its spring 2017 meeting. These appointments will replace members whose terms will expire on June 30, 2017.

If you wish to nominate yourself or other qualified individuals for one or more of these vacancies, please notify AAG Secretary Thomas Mote on or before March 1, 2017. Please make sure that your nominee is willing to serve if appointed. Include contact information for your nominee as well as a brief paragraph indicating his/her suitability for the position.

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Annual Meeting Support‎

AAG has a variety of opportunities for students, un-/underemployed geographers, and scholars outside the discipline to attend and participate in the Annual Meeting.

Some funding opportunities:

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Visiting Geographical Scientist Program Accepting Applications for 2017-18

The Visiting Geographical Scientist program (VGSP) is accepting applications for the 2017-18 academic year. VGSP sponsors visits by prominent geographers to small departments or institutions that do not have the resources to bring in well-known speakers. The purpose of this program is to stimulate interest in geography, targeted for students, faculty members, and administrative officers. Participating institutions select and make arrangements with the visiting geographer.

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Distinguished Professor Emeritus John M.Hunter

John M.HunterProfessor Hunter who has died aged 88, was an influential figure in establishing the study of medical geography as a specialty within geography. John Melton Hunter was born in Windsor, Canada on January 1, 1928. John was educated at Bemrose School, Derby and went on to receive his Ph.D. in geography from the University of Reading in 1954. During his time at the University of Ghana, Legon, Accra, he was planning officer and adviser for the preparation and enumeration of area maps and census reports for the 1960 Ghana Census. After returning to Great Britain, he taught at the University of Durham from 1964 to 1967 before beginning his tenure at Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan in 1967.

Throughout his career at Michigan State University, he received numerous honors awards and appointments, including the Distinguished Faculty award in 1982, an Honors Award from the Association of American Geographers, 1983, Appointed to serve on the National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council, Board of Science and Technology for International Development, Juba Valley Advisory Panel, 1986-88, Appointed Member of WHO Commission on Health and Environment, 1990-92, and University Distinguished Professor, 1990.

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Bruce Rhoads Elected AAAS Fellow

Bruce L. Rhoads, a professor of geography and geographic information science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, been elected a 2016 Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was honored “for distinguished contributions to physical geography and fluvial geomorphology, particularly for defining flow and sediment dynamics of stream confluences and river meanders.” According to his university profile, Rhoads has worked on the fluvial dynamics of streams in the Midwest for over 30 years.

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Pre-order ‘The International Encyclopedia of Geography’

he International EncyclopediaThe AAG and an international team of distinguished editors and authors are in the final stages of preparing a new major reference work for Geography: The International Encyclopedia of Geography: People, the Earth, Environment, and Technology.

This 15-volume work, published by Wiley both in hard copy and online, will be an invaluable resource for libraries, geographers, GIScientists, students and academic departments around the globe. Updated annually, this Encyclopedia will be the authoritative reference work in the field of geography for decades to come.

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New Books in Geography — December 2016

Every month the AAG compiles a list of newly-published books in geography and related fields. Some are selected for review in the AAG Review of Books. Anyone interested in reviewing these or other titles should contact the Editor-in-Chief, Kent Mathewson. Listed below are the books received from publishers in the last month.

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Latest Issue of ‘GeoHumanities’ Features Special Thematic Forum on Border Topologies

In the two years since the AAG launched its GeoHumanities journal, the editors have received a vast array of
fascinating manuscripts in the form of traditional scholarly “Articles” and “Practices and Curations” pieces, which cross over between the academy and creative practice. As the space for interdisciplinary scholarship at the intersection of geography and the humanities, GeoHumanities presents new opportunities for academic interaction and has inspired new proposals for special compilations on crosscutting themes.

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Winter 2017 Issue of ‘The AAG Review of Books’ Now Available

Volume 5, Issue 1 of The AAG Review of Books has now been published online. This quarterly online journal publishes scholarly reviews of recent books related to geography, public policy and international affairs. It also features review essays reflecting on several books on a particular theme, and book review fora with multiple contributors discussing a title.

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Newly Renamed ‘Annals’ Section “Physical Geography and Environmental Sciences”

The Annals of the American Association of Geographers has a newly renamed “Physical Geography and Environmental Sciences” section. It’s our hope that this section of the journal will identify with physical geographers, in addition to being open in a multidisciplinary sense to the Environmental Sciences. By explicitly stating “Physical Geography” in the section name, we’d like to encourage more physical geographers to submit their best work to the Annals.

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Second Annual ‘GeoHumanities’ GeoPoetics Poetry Reading

GeoHumanities has organized a GeoPoetics poetry reading to take place at the 2017 AAG Annual Meeting in Boston, with accomplished poets from Boston and New England. These include Stephen Burt (poet, critic and professor of poetry at Harvard), January O’Neill (poet and professor at Salem State University, executive director of the Massachusetts Poetry Festival), Danielle Legros Georges (faculty member at Lesley University and Boston’s Poet Laureate), Joseph Massey (author or the recent Illocality from Wave books – “a Massey poem is a revelation of place” according to Stephen Burt in a New York Times review), and Jill McDonough (poet and professor at UMass Boston. Three times winner of the Pushcart Prize). All of these poets approach place, and particularly the places of Boston and New England, in fresh and slant-wise ways that force us to see our world in new ways.

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Call for Abstracts: Special Issue of ‘Annals’ on “Environmental Governance in a Populist/Authoritarian Era”

The Annals of the American Association of Geographers is seeking contributions for a Special Issue on “Environmental Governance in a Populist/Authoritarian Era.” The 2019 Special Issue of the Annals will address theoretical, methodological, and empirical questions regarding how environments are known and governed in an era substantially characterized by populist and/or authoritarian politics around much of the world. The issue will explore what differences it makes when environmental research, knowledge construction, and decision making occur in the context of such political formations.

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