About Us

What is applied geography?

Applied geography is a field of geographic study dedicated to the application of various geographic techniques in order to solve real-world problems linked to geography and its 5 major themes: movement, human-nature interactions, location, place/place-making and regional issues. Applied geographic research spans a wide variety of sectors, subjects, and methodological approaches, and its emphasis on underlying theoretical concepts varies greatly. Applied geography sometimes involves deep community engagement and participation, while at other times it involves the analysis of large data sets in laboratory settings. Despite its great diversity, the underlying thread for all applied geographic is that it moves beyond that which is purely theoretical and sets into action to solve problems.

What do applied geographers do?

Applied geographers work with government organizations, non-profits, academia, the private sector, and nearly anywhere you can imagine! When we asked surveyed people about how they use geographic approaches to solve real-world problems, we received 134 responses, and major research themes include climate change, natural resource and disaster management, water and food security, community development, sustainability, environmental and social justice, health geography, and land use planning. Some examples of problems people are working to solve using applied geography include: identifying and reducing exposure of vulnerable communities to risks like drought, climate change, mining, agro-chemicals or other risks; facilitating decisions about where to site/invest in public infrastructure; creating better access to healthcare, resolving natural resource conflicts; more efficiently meeting agriculture and energy needs for the future; developing and revitalizing communities justly and sustainably; and solving transportation issues. While this is in no way an exhaustive list of problems that can be solved using applied geography, it should provide a good idea of the kind of work applied geographers are doing.

Why Join the Applied Geography Specialty Group?

The Applied Geography Specialty Group is a community of practice interested in increasing awareness about applied geographic approaches used in government, academia, the private sector and beyond. While our diverse community shares the common value of applying geographic approaches to solve real-world problems, applied geographers come from a wide range of backgrounds and specializations, providing an incredible opportunity to network and learn from each other. Our group members are also members of at least 50 other AAG specialty groups! Based on responses to a recent survey (2019), just a few other popular specialty groups among AGSG members include: GIS, Urban Geography, Spatial Analysis and Modeling, Economic Geography, Hazards Risks & Disasters, Remote Sensing, Water Resources, Health & Medical Geography, Human Dimensions of Global Change, and Transportation Geography. Through our annual meetings, website, bi-annual newsletters and knowledge community discussions, we facilitate communication and knowledge-sharing among our members. By highlighting successes of our members and offering awards for project development, travel and excellence in applied geography, we also promote and recognize individual excellence in the field from students, faculty, and practitioners from various sectors. In particular, our James R. Anderson Medal of Honor recognizes true 'game-changers' in applied geography including well-known recipients like the 'father of floodplain management', Gilbert White and Esri founder, Jack Dangermond. If you want to know more about the Applied Geography Specialty Group, feel free to email the current chair, Hannah Torres, at htorres3@gmu.edu.

Problems solved with geography
This word cloud was generated from 134 responses to the question:
'What kinds of real world problems do you solve (or aspire to solve) using geographic approaches?'