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Empowering Geographers

Elevate the Discipline

Geography is essential to understanding the world and solving its most pressing problems. However, clarifying the specific value of something as interdisciplinary as geography is inherently challenging. The plethora of sub-disciplines in geography, unconnected in the public consciousness, can hide their connections to real-world problems and issues of the moment. Elevating geography in the public mind will help the world understand why geography matters and is essential.

By training and showcasing geographers in action—in the media, as voices for public policies, and in advocating for change—we can demonstrate the relevance and essential nature of the discipline and advance the careers of geographers.


Why Geographers?

Geographers are inherently interdisciplinary—they are taught to be so. Within geography, you find professionals with expertise in the physical, social, and technological world. Geographers also, by training, have expertise in knowing that there are other things to consider, different opinions to capture, and other knowledge bases to consult to understand root causes, identify the entire system, and develop and scrutinize potential solutions and their implication. They have insight into why and how issues develop, and what to do to address them.

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Geography and Grand Challenges

The world’s grand challenges are complex and multi-faceted. They often occur on multiple scales, from local to national to global. They involve the physical world (natural resources, climate, habitat, etc.) and the socio-cultural world (economies, government, cultural practices, etc.), as well as a need for technological know-how and solutions to address them. Geographers are critical in a world that emphasizes specialists and specialties but requires cross-cutting collaboration and vision. Geographers know how to find, consult, and bring together a community of researchers and participants. Geographers also bring together outside specialists to create thoughtful and comprehensive approaches to the world’s issue.



Elevate the Discipline (Elevate) is a new program that provides training opportunities and resources to help geographers connect their work to public and policy arenas. By providing geographers with the skills and contacts to engage as public scholars in the world’s most pressing issues, we can increase public understanding of why geography matters; attract students to the discipline; educate decision makers, and engage with funders in common cause with solving the challenges our world faces. By connecting academic careers to the media and policy worlds, we can amplify the impact of the work and value to the world.

In creating Elevate, AAG has developed a three-tiered program, offering opportunities to train and connect the work of all members to public and policy arenas. The tiers are designed to reach as many geographers as possible. The Cohort Tier focuses intense training and support on 10-15 applicants working on a specific theme each year. The Program Tier offers virtual and in-person training to members working in any area. The Resource Tier provides multimedia materials for any member to consult and use.

Video camera filming an interview with a personThe 2023 cohort focus is Climate Change and Society. Faculty members and researchers working on climate change will gather in Washington, D.C., for a week of training, fellowship, and connection in late summer to gain skills and experience to connect their academic work to media and policy.

Meet the 2023 cohort

Photo of man speaking to audienceAAG is developing training and workshops to be offered online and at the Annual Meeting, including testimonials from cohorts and experts in media and policy. Participants will sign up for one or more offerings to enhance their skills and abilities. Programming will launch in 2024.

Arm-length view of hand pulling a book from a library shelf full of books
The Elevate program also provides a resource hub with many offerings that allow members to consult, learn, and browse anytime. This publicly available resource hub ensures that all members can benefit from the program at any stage of their career or level of interest.

  • Advocacy Handbook for Social & Behavioral Science Research—This free Handbook, compiled by COSSA explains the congressional structure and policymaking process, how to communicate with congress, and additional resources.  Learn more
  • Ten Paths for Scientist Engagement and Advocacy—This free resource from the Union of Concerned Scientists outlines ten methods of engaging in advocacy for science, by scientists.  Learn more
  • Science Advocacy Toolkit—This free resource from the Union of Concerned Scientists gives access to tools that will guide visitors on the site on (1) how to increase impact, (2) how to spark local action, (3) how to design their own actions and campaigns, and (4) how to stay informed on the latest actions and opportunities.  Learn more
  • Sharing Science—The Sharing Science Community, curated by the AGU, is a community of science communication and policy-interested folks. Through AGU Connect, members have the opportunity to interact with one another, access to a library of more than 100 scholarly manuscripts on the science of science communication, the opportunity to receive information and opportunities from us, and more.  Learn more
  • Citizen Resource Center—This free resource from the Congressional Management Foundation includes sections on how congress works, how to communicate with congress, and how to schedule and conduct meetings with members of congress.  Learn more
  • Glossary of Selected Legislative Terms—This free resource, from the American Alliance of Museums provides a list of terms relevant to congressional procedures.  Learn more
  • AAAS Communication Toolkit—This free resource, offered by the AAAS, provides scientists with the fundamental tools to communicate their research, ranging from working with journalists, to engaging with policymakers, and outlines a few of their mini workshops.  Learn more
  • Understanding the Media: A starter Guide for Scientists—Although there are no current training sessions being offered, this (free) course from SciLine/AAAS is designed for scientists with virtually no media experience, and teaches the basics that they’ll need to “dip their toes…into media engagement.” New sessions are being planned for the future.  Learn more
  • Media Training Guide—This free toolkit from the University of Houston provides a breakdown of the relevance of speaking with media, understanding the media’s role, how to prepare for an interview, and what to do during an interview.  Learn more
  • Media Training Tips: Free Media Training 101 Handbook—This free, and online handbook from Throughline provides a step by step guide on how to achieve interviewing success with the media, highlighting messaging, the methods associated with it, and how the medium of an interview can impact outcomes of communication.  Learn more
  • Science Communication to the Public and the Media—This 1-on-1 Training opportunity from JS Media Training teaches attendees how to craft their messaging around their research into digestible storytelling for the layperson, and the journalist they may be interacting with (Fees associated with Programming).  Learn more
  • Why Engage with the News Media—This free guide from the Science Media Centre looks at the reasons a scientist may have for working with the media, and addresses common concerns heard from scientists alongside testimonies from those who have engaged with the media in the past.  Learn more
  • Top Tips for Media Work: A Guide for Scientists—This free guide from the Science Media Centre covers how to best prepare for unanticipated interaction with the media – and tips and tricks to remember during such occurrences (across mediums: tv/newspaper/radio/etc.)  Learn more
  • Tips for Working with the Media—This free toolkit from the University of Michigan guides faculty through the steps involved in preparing for an interview, how to behave during that interview, and what to do after. The university also provides customized workshops and media training for faculty as requested.  Learn more
  • Writing to Members of Congress—The American Institute of Physics (AIP), a member of the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF), has produced a handful of resources to outlining simple advocacy steps for reaching out to your member of congress. This free tool teaches users how to write to their member of congress.  Learn more
  • Meeting with a Member of Congress—The American Institute of Physics (AIP), a member of the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF), has a handful of resources to outlining simple advocacy steps for reaching out to your member of congress. This free tool teaches users how to schedule a meeting with their member of congress.  Learn more
  • Science Network Leaders—This resource, organized by the Union of Concerned Scientists is focused on building out localized leadership and advocacy around the role of science in public policy, through (1) Science for the Public Good, and (2) Team Based Organizing Initiatives. Their site provides a map of where this programming is active across the country, and associated website links.  Learn more
  • Science Network Workshop Series—This resource from the Union of Concerned Scientists lists existing on demand, free workshops, including: (1) Science Communication, (2) Informing Policy and Influencing Decision Makers, (3) Talking with the Media, (4) Public Engagement and Working with Communities, (5) Early Career Scientist Webinars.  Learn more
  • Voices for Science—This is a program AGU launched in 2018 that centers around training scientists to address the critical need for communicating the value and impact of Earth and space science to key decision makers, journalists, and public audiences. The program recruits scientists to participate in one of two tracks: policy or communications.  Learn more
  • Geologize—This offers over a dozen courses centered around the basics of communicating geosciences, how to combat misinformation, and how to utilize social media tools to better communicate research (Fees may be associated with resources/programming).  Learn more


Meet the AAG Climate Change & Society cohort

These 15 scholars are the first to take part in AAG’s Elevate the Discipline program, preparing them with leadership, media skills, and policy strategies to share their expertise.

Learn more

AAG supports our members’ work on climate change in all facets: through research, applied science, and teaching the next generation.