Public Engagement in Geography

Expanding and enhancing public outreach and engagement represents a major strategic goal within the American Association of Geographers and a priority among geographers interested in advancing public discussion and debate, evidence-based policy initiatives, and the broader civic struggles over people and places.  This goal has long been important but it is especially imperative in light of our turbulent political times and ongoing institutional pressures at many universities and colleges. 

Geographers have important perspectives on a host of environmental, social, and technological issues.  Moreover, the discipline’s ultimate sustainability and efficacy depends upon being more recognizable and better understood among a broad array of communities.  This special theme within the 2018 AAG Annual Meeting will create and open spaces for demonstrating, debating, and improving how geographers engage public groups through their research, teaching, and other professional practices.      

The AAG welcomes paper, panel, and workshop sessions that explore the practical strategies, ethical considerations, and larger political implications and challenges of geographers interacting with wider publics, especially those outside of scientific, industry, and educational circles. 

Possible focal points of the Public Engagement in Geography theme include but are not limited to the following:

  • Participatory research approaches;
  • Valuing and incorporating non-academic knowledge;
  • Mapping, photographing, and writing people geographies;
  • Citizen science development;
  • Public pedagogy and teach-ins;
  • Mutually beneficial scholar-community collaboration;
  • Service- and experience-based learning;
  • Scholar activism and organizing for change and justice;
  • Communicating science to non-scientists;
  • Disciplinary advocacy, recruitment, and departmental public relations;
  • Interacting with journalists and strategic use of mass and social media;
  • Professional consulting and expert-models of enaggement;
  • Government relations, public agencies, and political office holding;
  • Starting and/or working with not-for-profit organizations and profit-based ventures.

Theme Committee

Joseph Wood (Chair), Professor of History and Public Affairs, University of Baltimore
Chris Post
, Associate Professor, Department of Geography, Kent State University
Joshua InwoodAssociate Professor of Geography, The Pennsylvania State University
William MoseleyProfessor of Geography, Director, Food, Agriculture & Society Program, Macalester College
Sriram Khe, Associate Professor, Department of Geography, Western Oregon University
Rebecca TorresAssociate Professor, Department of Geography and the Environment, University of Texas — Austin
Hilda Kurtz, Professor, Department of Geography, University of Georgia
Nicole NguyenAssistant Professor of Social Foundations of Education, University of Illinois at Chicago

 Please direct all theme-related queries to publicengagement@aag.org. Theme participants are encouraged to share via social media using the hashtags #AAG2018 and #PublicEngagement.