Newsletter – July 2015



The Bully Pulpit

By Sarah Witham Bednarz

I begin my first column by thanking you for electing me president of the AAG, a decision I hope you do not regret. I am simultaneously very excited and nervous about this opportunity but I know that I have excellent support from my in-house colleague, Bob Bednarz, from Doug Richardson and a terrific staff at Meridian Place, and from a superlative Council. And I will lean on the wisdom of many Past Presidents who guide me, notably Julie Winkler, Mona Domosh, Dick Marston, Alec Murphy, and Ken Foote.

I now have the bully pulpit. Theodore Roosevelt coined this phrase at a time when bully meant something quite different from today. To TR, everything good was bully. But its current meaning of speaking from a point of authority, of being a little bossy, or pedantically instructive attracts me to the term. I hope to be more instructive than bossy; I know you will let me know if I am achieving this tone by commenting on my columns. Continue Reading.

Recent columns from the President


AAG Opens Annual Meeting Call for Papers on July 31

Registration for the AAG Annual Meeting in San Francisco opens on July 31, 2015. AAG will also begin accepting abstracts and proposals for presentations. The 2016 conference will take place March 29-April 2. Researchers, scholars, professionals, and students are welcome to present papers, posters, and panel discussions on all topics relevant to geography. Abstracts are due by Oct. 29, 2015, but may be edited through February 18, 2016. Learn More.


Medieval tree stump in the West Walker River (eastern California).
Medieval tree stump in the West Walker River (eastern California)

The Coming ‘Dry-Wet Knockout’ in California

By B. Lynn Ingram and Frances Malamud-Roam

Seven of the last 10 years have been dry in California, and the last four have been critically dry. The drought is a top concern for Californians, with two-thirds of the state in extreme to exceptional drought. Severe droughts are one feature of our state’s climate; extremely wet years are another. In fact, droughts and floods are two sides of the same coin, because often extremely wet winters have followed on the heels of severe and prolonged droughts. This coming winter, a major El Niño is predicted, and may bring heavy rains accompanied by flooding, mudslides, and landslides.

The coupling of prolonged droughts with extreme wet years has been dubbed a “dry-wet knockout” by climate scientists, who have found that these occur with unnerving frequency in California’s climate history. In just the past century we have seen several examples. The years between 1928 and 1937 were among the driest of the 20th century in California, desiccating the grasslands of the Central Valley and the slopes of the mountains, and shrinking rivers and lakes. Then the winter of 1937-38 saw a series of storms deluge the northern two-thirds of the state, including two storms that dumped 10 inches of rain in southern California, flooding areas from San Diego to Los Angeles and into the Mojave Desert.

Learn More.


AAG Releases Statement in Defense of Academic Freedom at the University of Wisconsin

The Association of American Geographers expresses its deep concern over the proposals pending in the Wisconsin legislature that threaten tenure and hence academic freedom. By expanding the circumstances under which tenure can be revoked, the policies recommended by the Joint Finance Committee threaten the academic freedom that makes scholarly discovery and creativity possible. As such, these pending proposals run counter to the ideals of intellectual independence, shared governance, and public engagement that have made the Wisconsin State University system, and the higher education system of the United States, a beacon of academic vitality around the globe. We call on the Wisconsin legislature to uphold a system of higher education that is open to a diversity of perspectives, methods, and experiences by supporting academic free speech that is made possible by the tenure system. Learn More.

Share Your Experiences About Being a Visiting Geographical Scientist

Invitation to submit your experiences to promote VGSP

The AAG and Gamma Theta Upsilon are planning a new section of the Visiting Geographical Scientist Program (VGSP) website by highlighting past events that inform potential hosts and speakers about this important and beneficial funding opportunity.

If you have hosted or been a speaker at a VGSP event, we are interested in featuring images of your experience, including any links to videos, posters or other promotional materials, along with quotes and reflections about the program. Learn More


How Not to Get a DDRI Award

By Antoinette WinklerPrins

1) Construct a narrowly focused case study of process in a small community in a faraway land, emphasizing its uniqueness. The case will be of interest to a few others who work in the same area.

An acronym has been developed for these projects, “WISC” (Wallowing in a Specific Case). The GSS program and NSF in general does not prioritize support for WISCy proposals as it needs to support research that generates new knowledge more broadly and with relevance to US society. Read More.

National Humanities Center Offers Fellowships for 2016-17

The National Humanities Center invites applications for academic-year or one-semester residencies. Fellowship applicants must have a PhD or equivalent scholarly credentials. Mid-career as well as senior scholars from all areas of the humanities are welcome; emerging scholars with a strong record of peer-reviewed work are also encouraged to apply. Located in the progressive Triangle region of North Carolina, the Center affords access to the rich cultural and intellectual communities supported by the area’s research institutes and universities. Fellows have private studies; the library service delivers all research materials. Scholars from all parts of the globe are eligible; travel expenses in addition to a stipend are provided. The deadline for applications is October 15, 2015.  Read More.



Jenny Zorn Named Provost at CSU Bakersfield

Dr. Jenny Zorn will join CSU Bakersfield on July 31, 2015 as provost and vice president for academic affairs, succeeding Dr. Soraya Coley, who was named president of Cal Poly Pomona last fall. As the chief academic officer, Zorn will oversee the academic enterprise of the University, including the four schools, Extended University, Antelope Valley Center, and academic support services such as enrollment management, grants, research, and faculty affairs. Zorn currently serves as interim provost and vice president for academic affairs at Humboldt State University, prior to which she was the associate provost for academic and international programs at CSU San Bernardino. Read More.

AAG Members Speak at 5th International Hurricane and Climate Change Summit

Five members of the AAG were invited speakers of the 5th International Hurricane and Climate Change Summit held in Chania, Greece June 9-14. Co-organised by Climate Specialty Group Chair, Jennifer Collins, the following AAG members presented on topics such as paleo-tempestology, hurricane intensities and tropical cyclone risk assessments: Kelsey Ellis, Harry Williams, Jennifer Collins, Mark Welford and Jerry Jien. Read More.


Elizabeth Wentz Appointed ASU Dean of Social Sciences

Elizabeth Wentz, professor and director of the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning at Arizona State University, has been appointed dean of social sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Read More.


Harley Jesse Walker
Daniel W. Gade


Learning-Progressions-coverLearning Progressions Handbook Is Now Available

AAG and Cambridge Scholars Publishing announce the release of “Learning Progressions for Maps, Geospatial Technology, and Spatial Thinking—A Research Handbook” by Michael N. Solem, Niem Tu Huynh, Richard G. Boehm.

As an approach to educational research, learning progressions offer considerable potential for investigating how children develop an understanding of geographic concepts and practices across grade bands and in relation to national geography standards. Learn More.

New Books Received — June 2015

The AAG Review of Books office has released the list of the books received during the month of June. Read More.


Figure 1. UNC students protesting for the renaming of Saunders Hall as Hurston Hall (courtesy of The Daily Tar Heel/Claire Collins)

Op-Ed: #KickOutTheKKK: Challenging White Supremacy at UNC

By Reuben Rose-Redwood, Derek Alderman, Altha Cravey, Scott Kirsch, Omololu Refilwe Babatunde, and Josh Inwood

On May 28, 2015, the Board of Trustees at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill voted to rename Saunders Hall—the building in which the Geography Department is located—following months of student protest that garnered national attention. Nearly a century ago, this building was named in honor of William L. Saunders (1835—1891), a white supremacist who played a leading role in the Ku Klux Klan of North Carolina during the nineteenth century. When the name was bestowed in 1920, the university’s Board of Trustees listed Saunders’ leadership in the KKK as one of his accomplishments deserving recognition. Naming a building for Saunders was therefore a clear attempt to inscribe the legacy of white supremacy into the very fabric of the university’s cultural landscape. And the fact that the building’s name endured for over 90 years speaks to how legacies of anti-black racism are a largely unquestioned and taken-for-granted aspect of our everyday surroundings, both on and off university campuses.  We say “largely” because the power of every racialized landscape never goes completely unchallenged, and Saunders Hall was no exception. Learn More.

A Posthumous, Open Letter to Jay Harman

Dr. Brian Michael Napoletano

Dear Professor Harman (or Jay, if you will permit me),

I’m sorry it’s been so long since we’ve communicated; I’m still terrible at keeping in touch with old friends. However, I have thought of our conversations many times, and have been excited to update you on where I am and what I am doing. I have made several radical life changes that I wish to share with you, as you have been a major inspiration in the career choices I have made. Learn More.


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