About Us

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The Graduate Student Affinity Group (GSAG) is an organization charged with voicing the concerns of geography graduate students and better preparing students for their careers by providing a forum for inter-university communication and professional support. Our group is open to anyone from undergraduate students considering graduate school in geography to full professors who are interested in supporting graduate students. Please take some time to peruse our webpage for information about GSAG sponsored events. Also, please contact the Chair or Vice-Chair about joining the affinity group’s listserv.

Reauthorization of ESEA (No Child Left Behind) Heating Up

Take some time to familiarize yourself with this issue and consider contacting your elected officials. February 2nd is the deadline for senators to suggest comments to the draft. Read the messages below to find out more.

From AAG:

Dear AAG Members:

A draft reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which is currently known as No Child Left Behind, has been released by Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the new Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee.  By taking this step so early in the newly-convened 114th Congress, Alexander is signaling that he has serious interest in passing a bill in the first half of 2015.  The ESEA – the nation’s primary K-12 law – has not been reauthorized since early 2002.

As many AAG members are aware, the Association has been working for many years to ensure that the next enacted ESEA should include a specific funding authorization for K-12 geography education.  Geography is specified as one of nine core academic subjects in the existing law but is the only one that does not have a dedicated funding stream.    

In 2010, we began circulating the AAG Resolution Supporting K-12 Geography Education, which calls for funding of K-12 geography in the ESEA and urges the Obama Administration to include geography and geospatial education in its STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) proposals.  The Resolution has been endorsed by four former U.S. Secretaries of State; 20 incumbent state Governors; 25 Fortune 500 companies; and many other prominent individuals and organizations (see:  http://www.aag.org/cs/AAGEducationResolution).

This large coalition of supporters of geography education that we have assembled has helped us make a forceful case to federal policy makers.  As an example, please see the letter we have just sent to Senator Alexander on the reauthorization:  http://www.aag.org/galleries/education-policy/Senator_Alexander_AAG.pdf      

The Senate HELP Committee has held two hearings so far in 2015 related to the ESEA:  one on “Testing and Accountability” and the other on “Supporting Teachers and School Leaders.” 

Alexander’s draft bill – which has yet to be formally introduced – does not include a listing of core academic subjects and does not specifically mention geography at all.  The Chairman has indicated that he would like to pass a reauthorization bill through his panel by the end of February, but if he does so without bipartisan support, he may find it difficult to win needed Democratic votes (to avoid a filibuster) when the bill reaches the Senate floor.

We will keep you apprised of developments on this important legislation.    

Thank you,

Douglas Richardson and John Wertman


Dear NCGE Members:

As you may be aware, the ESEA re-authorization is moving forward.  NCGE is concerned that geography is not included in the first draft of the bill.  Therefore, we are asking the NCGE community to reach out to their Senators immediately.

Senator Lamar Alexander (TN-R) has invited comments by February 2, 2015 on his ESEA re-authorization draft. He has said he plans to mark up the bill in committee before Valentine’s Day. All United States Senators have an opportunity to submit their requests by February 2, 2015.

Share this Alert — After having sent your message to your Senators, please share this critical Action Alert with your friends, family etc. For your distribution lists we have created a “cut and paste” message below:

The Senate needs to hear from you as soon as possible. Please write your two US Senators – before February 2 and ask them contact Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) to urge the inclusion of the Programs of National Significance language included in the sample text provided below.

To find your member of Congress and email them go to:


Just a reminder to:

  • Use your own words, craft your own unique message using the ‘sample communication’ provided.
  • Add examples of problems you have encountered in providing geography education.
  • Highlight exemplary geography education practices that are replicable elsewhere.
  • Be respectful and to the point.
  • Please use the following in the subject line: URGENT-ESEA Request


Sample Text for Email:

Subject – Urgent ESEA Request


I am writing to you today as a constituent who cares deeply about   the vitality of our nation’s economy and democracy to ask for your assistance in providing competitive grants to support innovative, engaging teaching of the social studies – including civics, geography, economics and history – in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. As the Senate considers reauthorization of ESEA, please ask Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray to include the following language:

Grants shall be made to support developing, implementing, evaluating, and disseminating for voluntary school use innovative, research-based approaches to civics, geography, economics and history, which may include hands-on engagement activities, for low-income elementary school and secondary school students, that demonstrate innovation, scalability, accountability, and a focus on undeserved populations.”

I have firsthand knowledge of the critical role that a quality social studies education can play in preparing students for college, careers and citizenship. I feel especially strong about the necessity of geographic education in our ever-interconnected world.  In our modern world, it seems counterintuitive for such a crucial discipline that prepares every student for the important, lifelong role of citizen and inhabitant of this Earth to not be recognized in the legislation. If our great nation is to continue as a strong democracy it will need students and citizens that are globally competent.

Unfortunately, we are falling well short of this objective.  As evidenced in the recent National Assessment of Educational Progress report in geography, we must address the needs of our students to develop knowledge and skills in geography. Nationally, only 20% of 12th graders performed at or above the proficient level on the 2010 geography assessment. Beyond assessment figures, the important consequences of geographic literacy relates to the personal, professional, and civic decisions that students must make on a daily basis. Geographic competencies are used everyday in support of national security, our nation’s economic growth and our collective future.

Too often, teachers of social studies do not receive the professional development and access to innovative curricula that they need to engage students in this important area of study.  In the area of geography, no national funds have ever been allocated so we as a national have fallen behind. Our nation’s economy, security, well being and future depend on the skills found in teaching geographic competencies. Understanding the interconnections of human and physical systems is critical to planning for our nations future.

Competitive grants to non-profits to make demonstrated effective practices available to schools and teachers through the Programs of National Significance would enable non-profits with experience in deploying researched-based, innovative approaches to learning in the social studies disciplines, to disseminate them nationwide, and train teachers for more effective instruction.  Schools and school districts would then have a menu of validated approaches from which to select to best meet the needs of their students in all of the areas of social studies.

We know what works in education.  Research has demonstrated how to engage students in learning the social studies, especially geography.  It is an essential component in teaching them the analytic skills to which they can apply their knowledge and skills to present-day challenges in order to improve our world and our lives.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent concern.  Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions.




We appreciate your continued support for Geography Education and the National Council for Geographic Education.

Zachary R. Dulli & Jacqueline L. Waite, Co-Chief Executive Officers
National Council For Geographic Education

GSAG’s Newest Community Builder

Amelia Duffy-Tumasz has stepped into the Community Builder position for the rest of the term. Amelia is a PhD Candidate at Rutgers- The State University of New Brunswick where she has been pursuing research on the gendered dimensions of Senegal’s fishing economy over the past two years.  This builds on her previous research and engagement with international development issues in Europe, Côte d’Ivoire and South Africa.  She is interested in 1) finishing her dissertation (one day!) and 2) helping build a community of scholars dedicated to social and economic justice issues both in the US and globally. Serving with the GSAG, she hopes to support and contribute to the already active community of Geography graduate students as they pursue their own paths in and outside of the academy.

There will be more opportunities for people to become a part of the leadership at AAG’s 2015 Annual Meeting in Chicago. In the meantime, follow us on Facebook or Twitter or join the Facebook Group to have your voice heard.

Twitter @gsagaag

Facebook Group – for discussion and community building

Facebook Page – for news updates

GSAG Professional Development Award 2015

GSAG is a professional organization committed to representing graduate students within the Association of American Geographers and their advancement in the field of Geography. The GSAG Awards Committee will review all applications and award five $250 GSAG Professional Development Awards. We encourage all graduate students, masters and PhD, to apply. Preference will be given to first-time attendants of the AAG annual conference. Please fill out all the sections in the form below and submit by Friday, February 13, 2015. Awardees must pick-up award checks at the GSAG Business Meeting at the AAG annual conference. Email this application and all materials to Graciela Sandoval at gs1132@txstate.edu, GSAG treasurer, or call (512) 245-6567 (office) if you have questions.


Community Builder Position

The Graduate Student Affinity Group of the Association of American Geographers is seeking a second community builder to help develop and maintain connections among members.

Responsibilities include:

  • Attending monthly meetings through Skype with the rest of the GSAG leadership
  • Growing and maintaining participants in the Graduate Student Affinity Group
  • Managing the GSAG Facebook Page <https://www.facebook.com/groups/231715350362695/> (making relevant posts, approving requests to join)
  • Developing community-building events at the annual meeting (t-shirt exchange, GSAG reception, informal gatherings at nearby places of interest)
  • Using the AAG knowledge communities portal to disperse information to the graduate student population
  • And more!

Special projects have included:

  • Compiling and updating a list of geography graduate student organizations from various local campuses
  • Collecting and distributing a list of Geography Awareness Week events being held on different campuses
  • Soliciting postcards from the student body from all the places whence GSAG members hail from.

The position is limitless. Creativity is encouraged. Those interested should be ready to start immediately and committed to participation in monthly meetings. Email Renee Pieschke at renee.pieschke at gmail dot com to express interest. Ideas are always welcome. If you are looking for other ways to participate, feel free to ask.

Energy and Environment Specialty Group Paper Award Competition – 2014

For Those Attending the Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographer – Tampa, Florida April 18 to April 12, 2014

Energy and Environment Specialty Group Paper Award Competition – 2014

* Daniel B. Luten Award (Professionals)
* Earl Cook Award (Students)

The Energy and Environment Specialty Group is sponsoring two awards for the Annual Meeting of the AAG.

– The Daniel B. Luten Award is for best paper by a professional geographer at the AAG Annual Meeting.

– The Earl Cook Award is for best paper by a student delivered at the AAG Annual Meeting.

The topic must be on energy, environment, or a mix of the two, and it must be delivered in person at the annual AAG meeting.

The award includes $250 prize, an engraved plaque, and formal announcement at the AAG meeting.

The award will be based on the written paper and will be judged by a panel of experts within the Energy and Environment Specialty Group of the AAG.

Notice of intent (Title and/or Abstract preferred) – November 1, 2013
Completed paper (in MS WOrd) – February 15, 2014

Send all correspondence and papers to Prof. Martin J. (Mike) Pasqualetti, Chair Awards Committee of the EESG, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planing Arizona State Universtiy, Tempe, Arizona. Pasqualetti@ASU.edu

CALL FOR PAPERS:J. X. Kasperson Award CFP: Tampa AAG Meeting 2014

J. X. Kasperson Award

The Hazards, Risks & Disasters Specialty Group (HRDSG) is pleased to announce the Jeanne X. Kasperson Student Paper Competition for the 2014 Annual Meeting of the AAG in Tampa, April 8-12.  The HRDSG invites all graduate and undergraduate students who plan to present HRD-related papers at the 2014 meeting to submit an extended abstract of up to 1000 words to the HSG Chair (Tim Collins attwcollins@utep.edu) by October 16, 2013.  Award winners will have their registration fees for the meeting reimbursed by the HRDSG, and their work will be highlighted in the J.X. Kasperson Student Paper Award Session in Tampa.  Papers may be co-authored, but all authors must be students (no faculty co-authored papers will be considered) and registration payment is limited to one student fee per selected paper.  Students entering this competition must be members of the AAG (the specialty group will pay registration fees for the winners but not their association membership dues).  Applicants for the award will be notified by October 23, 2013.  Please direct all questions to: Tim Collins, Hazards, Risks & Disasters Specialty Group Chair, Department of Sociology & Anthropology, University of Texas-El Paso:twcollins@utep.edu.

Timothy Collins
University of Texas – El Paso

AAG GIS&S Student Paper Competition

Call for Abstracts

AAG Geographic Information Science and Systems Specialty Group:
Annual Student Paper Competition

AAG Meeting: Tampa, FL – April 8-12, 2014

The Geographic Information Science and Systems Specialty Group (GISS-SG) of the Association of American Geographers is pleased to announce the2014 Honors Competition for Student Papers on Geographic Information Science (GIS) topics to be presented at the annual meeting. The purpose of this competition is to promote scholarship and written and oral presentation by students in the field of GIS. Papers are invited from current graduate and undergraduate students on any topic in geographical information systems and geographic information science.

Any paper that advances any aspect of GIS is welcome. We encourage papers on theoretical, conceptual, and methodological developments in GIS as well as on particular innovative GIS applications. Papers must be based upon original work, completed as an undergraduate or graduate student, relevant to the field of GIS and current GIS research. Papers must bemainly written by the applicant, but having co-authors is allowed. Students who are selected as finalists will be placed in a special session at the annual meeting. The only exception is a student who is also selected as a Nystrom Dissertation Award finalist, in which case, he or she may present in the Nystrom paper session instead.

October 18, 2013 – Abstract Due
February 1, 2014 – Full Paper Due

Up to five finalists (one session) will be selected on the basis of the quality of extended abstracts and provided with $500 each to attend the conference. The extended abstract of about 1,000 words is used by the GISS-SG Awards Committee to choose the competition finalists. Finalists must submit a paper of a substantive nature that constitutes an expanded discussion of the material to be presented orally at the annual meeting. Subsequent to the oral presentations by the finalists, there will be special awards for the 1st and 2nd-place presenters. The prizes of $500 for 1st place and $250 for 2nd place will be determined immediately following the special presentation session.
The awards committee reserves the right to not offer such prizes if the papers are not of sufficiently high quality. The 1st and 2nd-place awards are decided on the basis of the written paper and the oral presentation. They will also receive tickets to attend the AAG Awards Luncheon, and results of the competition will be published in the AAG Newsletter and the GISSSG newsletter, as well as on the specialty group’s web page.

The competition is open to students at all academic levels. Any paper first-authored and presented by a student is eligible for the competition, provided the paper has not already been published or presented somewhere. There is no limitation on the number of co-authors, however, the applicant student is required to be the first author.

Applicants must be a current member of the AAG GISS Specialty Group. For instructions on how to become a member of the Geographic Information Science and Systems Specialty Group, simply contact the AAG. There are no student dues for the GISS-SG.


See http://www.uccs.edu/geography/aag-gis-annual-student-paper-competition.html

Send all submissions and inquiries to:

Dr. Somayeh Dodge
Academic Councilor, GIS Specialty Group
Department of Geography and Environmental Studies
University of Colorado Colorado Springs

Columbine Hall, Room 2022
1420 Austin Bluffs Parkway
Colorado Springs, CO 80918
(719) 255-4025

Email: sdodge3@uccs.edu

2014 AAG Russia, Central Eurasia, and Eastern Europe Specialty Group Awards

Russia, Central Eurasia, and Eastern Europe Specialty Group
Paper Award Competition – 2014

The Russia, Central Eurasia, & Eastern Europe Specialty Group is sponsoring two awards ahead of the next Annual Meeting of the AAG.
?       The Field Research Travel Award goes to a graduate student planning field work in Eurasia in 2014-15, based on a research proposal.
?       The Student Conference Paper Award is for the best paper by a student describing original research presented at the AAG Annual Meeting or any appropriate regional meeting, based on submission of the paper.

The topic should concern some aspect of Russian, Central Eurasian or East European geography (even broadly conceived).
The award includes formal announcement at the AAG meeting in Tampa in April 2014.
The awards will be based on the written documents and will be judged by a panel of
senior scholars within the Russia, Central Eurasia, & Eastern Europe Specialty Group of the AAG.

Notice of intent (Title and/or Abstract preferred) – January 1, 2014
Completed paper (in MS Word) – March 15, 2014
Send all inquiries, correspondence, and papers to Megan Dixon, mdixon@collegeofidaho.edu


Saturday @ AAG2013: Safe Travels

We hope you’ve had a great conference! Here are the Saturday GSAG-sponsored events. Safe travels!


Navigating the Process of Journal Publishing in Biogeography

(Melanie Stine – Texas State University-San Marcos)

Saturday, 4/13/2013, from 8:00 AM – 9:40 AM  in Santa Anita A, Westin, Lobby Level

This panel session will address the process of publishing in peer-reviewed scientific journals with an aim of introducing the process to students who have limited experience in publishing. Panelists will offer information and guidance on how to progress from a research project to a published article. Topics to be addressed may include selecting a journal, communicating with the editor, responding to reviewer comments, actions to take after rejection, preparing your material for submission, and tips on how to optimize the potential of your manuscript’s acceptance. The focus of the session will be on publishing within the field of biogeography, but will be applicable to other areas of geography as well.


Imagining Intersectional Feminist Geographies: Beyond Privileging Gender

(Jill Williams – Clark University, Marina Islas – University of Texas at Austin)

Saturday, 4/13/2013, from 2:00 PM – 3:40 PM in Laguna Parlor 3048, Westin, 30th Floor

Feminist geographers have long called for intersectional analyses that attend to the ways in which various systems of oppression (e.g., gender, race, class, sexuality, ability) intersect (e.g., Valentine 2007; McDowell 2008; McKittrick 2006; Brown 2011).  However, much feminist scholarship continues to privilege gender as the primary category of analysis.  This session aims to bring together those working at the intersections of feminist, critical race, marxist, and queer theories to explore what an intersectional feminist geography might look like.  We aim to start a productive dialogue that draws attention to how systems of oppression function in tandem to produce hierarchical power relations and unjust social structures.