Monday, January 23, 2006

Our Future???

This post is coming to you due to the growing concern about the specialty group. As of mid-January, 2006, the specialty group consists of 169 student members and 102 non-student members (271 total). This is a great showing on paper; however, participation in the specialty group is very low. Over the past several years less than 5% of the membership has attended the business meeting at the national meeting. We have had very few students enter the paper competition or apply for the travel grants. Specialty group-sponsored sessions at the national meeting have also dwindled to only one or two in the recent past (2005 AAG – 0 sessions; 2006 AAG – 2 sessions). The lack of participation will certainly cause a problem when my term as chair ends (2006) and the current vice-chair, who would typically move into the chair position, steps down (2006). At present, there appears to be no one willing to step into these roles.

We, as a specialty group, need to decide if we should continue or fold. If continuation is the overwhelming favorite people need to step up to the plate and participate by organizing specialty group-sponsored sessions, encouraging students to submit their work for the paper competition and apply for the travel grants, and becoming officers.

So what does all of this mean? We need to generate some discussion of whether or not to continue the specialty group. In late February, we (the current board) will call for a vote so that the outcome will be known prior to the Chicago AAG meeting. If the membership votes to continue the specialty group but no one volunteers to step onto the board either before or during the business meeting (Thursday, March 9, 11:50am-12:50pm) we will send a recommendation to the AAG that this specialty group fold.

Lisa M. DeChano, PhD
Environmental Perception & Behavioral Geography Specialty Group