Newsletter – September 2015


Do The Right Thing


By Sarah Witham Bednarz

It is that time of the year again. I hear the scurry of my colleagues sorting through old folders, re-organizing class notes. The copy machine is chugging along, spewing syllabi. The line outside the IT staff office is long with instructors seeking assistance in posting to their websites or the campus learning management system. The odd student is lurking, interested in changing his or her schedule or seeking advice on courses to take. Anticipation is in the air. A fresh start. The angst of the first class.

Alas, for too many of my fellow geographers the start of the teaching season is greeted with groans. It means less time for research. Earlier this year I read a particularly bitter yet entertaining commentary in the Chronicle of Higher Education by Jacques Berlinerblau entitled Teach or Perish. In his broad ranging rant about higher education, Berlinerblau makes a few points that resonate with me. Continue Reading.

Recent columns from the President


AAG Atlas Awardee Julian Bond


Julian Bond, renowned civil rights activist and recipient of the AAG’s prestigious Atlas Award, passed away on August 15, 2015, aged 75.

In 2014, Bond was awarded the Association of American Geographers’ prestigious Atlas Award, designed to recognize and celebrate outstanding accomplishments that advance world understanding in exceptional ways, whether in science, politics, scholarship, the arts, or in war and peace. At the Annual Meeting in Tampa, he delivered a presentation on “Race Around the World,” focusing on how civil rights figures and organizations shaped and changed American foreign policy, before being presented with his award by AAG President, Julie Winkler.

Julian Bond played a central role in America’s civil rights movement, spanning student protest and activist politics to institutional leadership and academia. Although his fight for social justice was focused on race, he also campaigned for peace, gay rights and the environment, among other issues. He was a charismatic figure with a reputation for charm alongside his persistent opponent of the stubborn remnants of white supremacy. In the few days before his death, after he was suddenly taken ill, his wife reported that he remained ever the optimist, finding reasons to laugh.

Learn More.


Call for Participation: Geography Careers Events at AAG 2016

We seek a diverse group of individuals representing a range of employment sectors, organizations, academic and professional backgrounds, and racial/ethnic/gender perspectives to participate in a range of geography careers events at AAG 2016. We are seeking members to be career mentors as well as to lead and facilitate workshops, panel, and paper sessions. If interested, please send an email to careers [at] aag [dot] org, specifying your topic(s) and activity(s) of interest, and attach your current c.v. or resume. For best consideration, submit your information by November 18, 2015.

Learn More.

Organize, Lead a Field Trip in San Francisco

The AAG is currently seeking ideas and proposals for field trips in San Francisco and the Bay Area for the upcoming AAG Annual Meeting. Proposals should be submitted by December 18, 2015.

Submit a field trip form or contact Cendy Chou at 703-964-1240 x 12 or cchou [at] conferencemanagers [dot] com for assistance or more information. Learn More.


Powell Street Parklet (SF Pavement to Parks Program, San Francisco Planning Department)

Geographies of Sustainability in the San Francisco Bay Area

When geographers descend on San Francisco next year for the annual American Association for Geography meeting, most will undoubtedly stroll past one of the Powell Street parklets, located near the downtown conference hotels. Designed by landscape architect Walter Hood, with funding from Audi, the parklets are celebrated by Dwell magazine for beautifying one of the city’s most trod upon blocks with “torqued aluminum railing, drought-tolerant plants, and enough space for pedestrian-choked Powell Street to breathe” (Britt 2011). One of Dwell’s favorite aspects of the parks’ design is how they narrow the cable-car lined Powell Street to two lanes, effectively prohibiting automobile traffic. The Powell Street parklets are hardly an unusual sight in bike-friendly San Francisco – the city’s Pavement to Parks program has supported sixty similar sidewalk spaces (See San Francisco’s Pavement to Parks Program for a map of the city’s parklets). While most parklets don’t take over car lanes, they do occupy parking spaces, and most include bike racks – encouraging this “greener” mode of travel. As popular, year-round destinations, many parklets are sponsored by neighborhood businesses, as they facilitate other kinds of green circulation and consumption. Learn More.

[Focus on San Francisco is an on-going series curated by the Local Arrangements Committee to provide insight on and understanding of the geographies of San Francisco and the Bay Area]


Upcoming AAG Award Applications and Nominations Due in September

Deadlines are fast approaching for a number of AAG awards. To nominate someone or apply on your own behalf, please follow the links highlighted in each award listed for instructions or additional information.

AAG Enhancing Diversity Award honors those geographers who have pioneered efforts toward or actively participated in efforts toward encouraging a more diverse discipline over the course of several years. Deadline for nominations is September 15, 2015.

The AAG Excellence in Mentoring Award is given annually to an individual geographer, group, or department who has demonstrated extraordinary leadership in building supportive academic and professional environments in their departments, associations, and institutions and guiding the academic and or professional growth of their students and junior colleagues. Deadline for nominations is September 15, 2015.

The AAG Honorary Geographer award recognizes excellence in research, teaching, or writing on geographic topics by non-geographers. Deadline for nominations is September 15, 2015.

The AAG Stanley Brunn Award for Creativity in Geography is given annually to an individual geographer or team that has demonstrated originality, creativity, and significant intellectual breakthroughs in geography. Deadline for nominations is September 20, 2015.

The J. Warren Nystrom Award supports an annual prize for a paper based upon a recent dissertation in geography. Deadline for applications is September 22, 2015.



Photo courtesy U.S. National Park Service.

Old Name Officially Returns to Nation’s Highest Peak

The story of America is told by the names on the land. When you hear names like Kentucky and Kennesaw, Klamath and Kodiak, your mind immediately starts to turn over all manner of associated thoughts of what you may have experienced or learned or even what you may imagine about that place. Geographic names often serve as a mental index and guide to help organize our knowledge of American geography and history.

Most of the time the names of places seem quite mundane because they are so basic in our everyday lives. They are invisible, unremarkable elements of the way we think and communicate. Yet, to borrow a phrase from Sir Francis Bacon*, names carry “much impression and enchantment.” When people disagree about the right name of a place, then the importance of geographic names becomes clearly evident. Read More.


New Orleans 10 Years Later

A special package courtesy The Nation magazine on movement building and the resilience of New Orleans on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.


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