Participants of the 2019 GFDA workshop gather for a photo

 

Advancing the Discipline

Healthy Departments Initiative

Our work

Healthy departments make the future of geography a reality

The work of the Healthy Departments committee provides coherent and engaged guidance and action that enhances the future health and excellence of academic geography departments across the country. Committee members visit departments and colleges and engage in outreach with administrators to support geography. The committee also designs and implements actions that help move leaders in geography towards these goals.

Goals:
  • support departments in crisis
  • assist in restructuring the curriculum to advance department goals
  • offer the Healthy Departments workshop
  • provide suggestions of department reviewers
  • provide materials for chairs to support fundraising
  • support department expansions
  • provide data for benchmarking and for communicating effectively with deans
  • investigate how geography departments can most effectively position themselves within their institutions by aligning themselves with the central needs and missions of those respective institutions

This page is a resource to assist department chairs and provide practical information that can improve program quality. This page will continue to evolve with new information as we are able to share it. We invite suggestions for additional resources to be included.

Open Now

Geography Department Survey

Information about the status and health of geography higher education programs in the U.S. is critical for us to determine how best to advance our discipline. The AAG, in conjunction with the Healthy Departments Committee and AAG Regional Councilors, invites all geography department and program leaders to take part in this important survey that will enable us to better understand the state of geography higher education, and identify programs at risk.

Take the survey
Resources

Information to enhance the future health and excellence of academic geography departments

The AAG Geography Department Chairs’ listserv is a critical resource for geography program leaders to share information on best practices, ideas, and resources for running a successful program. Incoming, current, or former geography/GIS or related program leaders are eligible to join the listserv.

Contact us to join

The Professional Journey section of the AAG website includes information and resources on geography careers that can be used to inform students and potential majors about the many dynamic and exciting career opportunities available with a degree in geography.

  • Geography Career Profiles — Learn about geography careers from profiles of professional geographers working in education, business, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies.
  • Private Sector Careers — Learn how geographers are creating positive change within private companies large and small as they begin to recognize the value of geographic analysis in their everyday operations.
  • Federal Government Careers — The federal government has numerous, varied, and a constantly growing number of geography-related positions due to an expanding need for geographic expertise and analysis.
  • State and Local Government Careers — Geographers are involved in a variety of state and local government organizations and departments that focus on transportation, health, environmental protection, urban planning, economic development, and more.
  • Nonprofit and NGO Careers — With their ability to understand complex relationships between people, place, community, environment, and society, geographers are well positioned to apply their disciplinary perspectives to the nonprofit sector.
  • Academic Careers — There are many academic career paths available for geographers. These can vary, from a tenured faculty position at a large institution, to part-time adjunct teaching at a community college, to influencing the younger generation as a K-12 teacher.

The AAG’s YouTube channel features a wide variety of content that can be valuable for geography program leaders. Subscribe to the channel for the latest updates!

Browse to the channel

Founded by Professor Ken Foote of the University of Connecticut with the support of the National Science Foundation and the AAG, the Geography Faculty Development Alliance (GFDA) offers an annual Department Leadership workshop for all geographers interested in improving their programs — chairs, deans, associate chairs, academic advisers, provosts and other administrators, as well as all faculty interested in leadership issues. The workshop is particularly well suited for individuals who may soon assume leadership positions. Coming soon: 2024 Department Leadership workshop (June 17-18, 2024).

Learn More

The AAG annual meeting typically includes many in-person, virtual and hybrid sessions within its wider professional development curated track that are relevant to geography department leaders. If you plan to attend the annual meeting, consider attending the featured sessions below organized by the Healthy Departments Committee:

Who we are

Committee members

Photo of David Kaplan
David H. Kaplan
Kent State University

Chair

Photo of David Kaplan

David H. Kaplan

Chair

Photo of Gary Langham
Gary Langham
AAG

Ex officio

Photo of Gary Langham

Gary Langham

Ex officio

Photo of Derek Alderman
Derek Alderman
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Photo of Derek Alderman

Derek Alderman

Perry Carter
Perry Carter
Texas Tech University

Perry Carter

Perry Carter

Photo of Mike DeVivo in a field with grazing horses
Mike DeVivo
Grand Rapids Community College

Photo of Mike DeVivo in a field with grazing horses

Mike DeVivo

Photo of Ken Foote by Casey A. Cass, University of Colorado
Ken Foote
University of Connecticut

Photo of Ken Foote by Casey A. Cass, University of Colorado

Ken Foote

Jon Harbor
Jon Harbor
Purdue University

Jon Harbor

Jon Harbor

Photo of Jacqueline Housel
Jacqueline Housel
Sinclair Community College

Photo of Jacqueline Housel

Jacqueline Housel

Deborah Martin
Deborah Martin
Clark University

Deborah Martin

Deborah Martin

William Moseley
William Moseley
Macalester University

William Moseley

William Moseley

Photo of Alexander Murphy by Brenna Houck
Alec Murphy
University of Oregon

Photo of Alexander Murphy by Brenna Houck

Alec Murphy

Benjamin Ofori-Amoah
Benjamin Ofori-Amoah
Western Michigan University

Benjamin Ofori-Amoah

Benjamin Ofori-Amoah

Photo of Shannon O'Lear
Shannon O’Lear
University of Kansas

Photo of Shannon O'Lear

Shannon O’Lear

Aondover Tarhule portrait outside Illinois State University brick building
Aondover Tarhule
Illinois State University

Aondover Tarhule portrait outside Illinois State University brick building

Aondover Tarhule

History

Background on the initiative

AAG Past President Vicky Lawson launched the Healthy Departments Initiative to strengthen the leadership and administrative skills of department chairpersons in the discipline. The project has organized a series of workshops to facilitate department chairs and facilitate sharing of successful strategies for maintaining healthy departments.