Newsletter – November 2016


Geography, Institutions and the Fate of People and Planet in the 21st Century

By Glen M. MacDonald
Glen M. MacDonald

Let’s talks about Geographical Determinism. Got your attention? I thought so. The term, along with its cousin, Environmental Determinism, has long been disdained and pejorative amongst geographers, anthropologists and other disciplines. There is a rightful rejection of determinism’s racist connotations and applications in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

There is also good cause to question explanations of complex societal attributes and histories that are based on selected geographic/environmental conditions alone. To even utter the terms Geographical Determinism here in the Newsletter of the American Association of Geographers, much less start a column this way, might well be considered a step into dangerous waters!

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Recent columns from the President


AAG to Collaborate on an International Geography Assessment

globeThe AAG is participating in an international effort to design and develop a geography assessment based on the successful model used by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) for the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).

Major collaborating organizations include the International Geographical Union Commission on Geographical Education (IGU-CGE) and the IEA/TIMSS. The initial funding for this project is being provided by the Geography Education National Implementation Project and the U.S. National Center for Research in Geography Education.

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‘Locating Geography Education’ — Sarah Bednarz’s Past President’s Address

SWB_decemberAAG Past President Sarah Witham Bednarz will explore the evolving role, nature, and relevance of geography education as viewed by former presidents of the AAG from 1910 to the present. AAG presidential addresses have, at times, commented directly on education issues; at other times the topic has been avoided, if not ignored.

What changes have occurred over time in how geography education is perceived and valued? What persistent educational concerns has the discipline wrestled with? How has the discipline, represented by its leaders, addressed broader social, cultural, and political factors that affect the production of new geographic knowledge and the reproduction of geographers?

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Roger Downs To Receive the 2017 AAG Presidential Achievement Award

Roger Downs

The AAG has proposed a new Advanced Placement course in Geographic Information Science and Technology (AP GIS&T) designed to introduce high school students to the fundamentals of geographic information science and applications of geospatial technologies for spatial analysis and problem solving.

For AP GIS&T to become a reality, the AAG needs 250 U.S. high schools to attest to their interest and capacity to offer the course. Similarly, 100 colleges and universities need to declare their willingness to offer credit to students who demonstrate a proficiency on the AP GIS&T exam.

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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

Abstract Deadline Extended to Nov. 17

Due to a high volume of submissions, the abstract deadline has been extended for the AAG Annual Meeting in Boston. AAG will continue to accept abstracts for papers and posters, sessions, workshops, and field trips through Nov. 17. Researchers, scholars, professionals, and students are welcome to present papers, posters, and panel discussions on all topics relevant to geography.

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Call for Papers: AAG Featured Themes

Organize a Session or Present a Paper

Papers from all disciplines, subfields, and perspectives are welcome to participate in the Featured Themes. Abstracts and sessions are due by November 17.

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AAG Unveils New Disciplinary Data Dashboard


The AAG receives numerous requests for data related to geography and geographers. Often such requests come from members who are doing research on the discipline, or who are interested in knowing, for example, the proportion of women who hold the rank of associate professor or the average value of a graduate student assistantship.

The AAG has been able to respond to these many requests for data thanks to its multiple ongoing data collection efforts involving members, departments, and special research surveys. Over the past decade this work has generated a considerable amount of data and content across the entire AAG website. In an effort to consolidate and facilitate access to all of the disciplinary data collected by the AAG, a new AAG Disciplinary Data Dashboard was created on the AAG website.

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Act Now to Support the AAG’s AP GIS&T Proposal


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 86 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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GeoCapabilities StoryMap Illustrates the ‘Power’ of Geographical Knowledge

Since 2012 the AAG has been participating in an international effort, known as GeoCapabilities, to support new approaches in geography teacher education. As previously reported earlier this year, the GeoCapabilities project launched a new website that includes four training modules. Collectively, the modules are designed to promote a “curriculum of engagement” based on an appreciation of the significance of geographical knowledge in the education of young people.

Although there are many ways to express this significance, the project emphasizes the concept of capability and how powerful disciplinary knowledge (PDK) develops capability by enabling people to think in specialized ways. This leads to better knowledge, stronger arguments, and more sound judgments about information and facts.

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Celebrate Geography Awareness Week with AAG Nov. 13-19

AAG To Host Twitter Chat on Nov. 17

Connect with AAG on social media during Geography Awareness Week (GAW), Nov. 13-19, to help celebrate and raise awareness about geography. AAG will post educational and outreach resources to its social media channels throughout the week.

Also, be sure to join AAG for a Twitter Chat on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, from 3-4 p.m. EDT. To participate in the discussion, please use the hashtag, #GAWChat. Make sure to follow us on Twitter by searching for our handle, @TheAAG!

Geography Awareness Week is an annual celebration of geography and the important role it plays in our lives. It was founded by presidential proclamation in 1987; this year GAW will be observed from Nov. 13-19, 2016.

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Receives the British Academy Medal

David Lowenthal

David Lowenthal was awarded the 2016 British Academy medal for The Past Is a Foreign Country—Revisited (Cambridge University Press, 2015). The medal honors ‘a landmark academic achievement which has transformed understanding in the humanities and social sciences’ in a book that explores ‘the manifold ways in which history engages, illuminates and deceives us in the here and now’.

Lowenthal, emeritus professor of geography and honorary research fellow at University College London, was invited to the 2016 AAG Annual Meeting in San Francisco for a special “Author Meets Critics” session.

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AAG Honors its First Archivist, the Library of Congress’ Ralph Ehrenberg

DougAAG-RalphLoCw-1The AAG honored Ralph Ehrenberg, Chief of the Library of Congress Geography and Map Division, during his retirement from the Library of Congress on October 13, 2016. The AAG’s Executive Director Doug Richardson presented him with a certificate of appreciation for his many years of service to the Association as the first AAG Archivist and in his distinguished role at the Library of Congress.

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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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Applications for Pruitt Graduate Fellowships Are Open

The Society of Women Geographers is inviting applications from women doctoral students in the US and Canada for doctoral dissertation fellowship research awards of up to $12,000 and for fellowships for minority women in masters programs up to $4,000 each. Full details about this program and many other student opportunities are available on the AAG Student Internship, Graduate Assistantship, and Postdoc Opportunities page on the AAG website.

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AAG Seeks Interns for Spring Semester

AAG16Careers_gangThe AAG is currently seeking interns for the spring semester, although the organization offers opportunities on a year-round basis for the spring, summer and fall semesters. Interns participate in most AAG programs and projects such as education, outreach, research, website, publications, or the Annual Meeting. The AAG also arranges for interns to accompany different AAG staff on visits to related organizations or events of interest during the course of their internship.

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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.

November 2016 Issue of the ‘Annals of the AAG’ Now Available

The AAG is pleased to announce that Volume 106, Issue 6 (November 2016) of the Annals of the American Association of Geographers is now available.

The Annals contains original, timely, and innovative articles that advance knowledge in all facets of the discipline. Articles are divided into four major areas: Environmental Sciences; Methods, Models, and Geographic Information Science; Nature and Society; and People, Place, and Region.

This issue contains the Presidential Address delivered by Julie Winkler at the AAG Annual Meeting in Chicago in 2015 entitled Embracing Complexity and Uncertainty. It is available for free for the next two months.

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November 2016 Issue of ‘The Professional Geographer’ Now Available

pg coverThe AAG is pleased to announce that Volume 68, Issue 4 (November 2016) of The Professional Geographer is now available.

The focus of The Professional Geographer is on short articles in academic or applied geography, emphasizing empirical studies and methodologies. These features may range in content and approach from rigorously analytic to broadly philosophical or prescriptive. The journal provides a forum for new ideas and alternative viewpoints.

Each issue, the Editor chooses one article to make freely available. In this issue you can read Change in the World City Network, 2000-2012 by Ben Derudder and Peter Taylor for free for the next 3 months.

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New Books in Geography – October 2016

The AAG Review of Books office has released the list of the books received during the month of October.

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Sally Eden

Sally EdenSally Eden, professor of Human Geography at the University of Hull, UK, whose research explored issues of environmental perception, and sustainable food production and consumption, passed away in September 2016 after a period of illness.

Eden was born in 1967. She studied for a bachelor’s degree at the University of Durham followed by a doctorate at the University of Leeds. Her first academic posts were at the University of Bristol and Middlesex University where she taught geography and environmental studies before joining the Department of Geography at the University of Hull in 1998 where she served for the last 18 years.

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Lawrence S. Hamilton

Larry Hamilton, emeritus professor of natural resources at Cornell University, who played a leading role in the worldwide conservation of mountain areas, passed away on October 6, 2016, at the age of 91.

Lawrence Stanley Hamilton was born in Toronto in 1925. He couldn’t wait to get out of the city and started working in logging camps in the North Woods during the summers while he was still a teenager. During the Second World War he served in the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm as a pilot. Both his early connection to forests and his exposure to the horrors of war went on to shape the rest of his life.

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