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Introducing the American Geographical Society

September 2, 2016

At no other point in history has geography played such a critical role in virtually every aspect of our lives. From the long-standing traditions of map making and understanding how the physical environment is organized, to the contemporary explosion of GIS, GPS, and other geospatial analyses and techniques, Geography now permeates every aspect of our daily lives.

This week, we’re glad to be introducing and spotlighting an organization we frequently work with in this field: The American Geographical Society, or AGS, for short. Fulcrum is proud to be a corporate partner of AGS, as well as contributing to discussions, projects, symposiums, and helping to introduce AGS to schools, businesses, and individuals who can benefit from their expertise & connections throughout the world.

American Geographical Society

AGS began during the era of Polar Exploration, when Sir John Franklin’s expedition went missing deep in the Arctic. Rumors swirled about the possibility of survivors stranded in the cold, and Lady Franklin went out to seek the help of businessmen and scholars. The organized efforts that came from Franklin’s ill-fated rescue attempt led to the founding of the AGS in 1851, as an advocacy group for geographic education in the United States. The Society funded several expeditions, trained explorers, and published the findings that came from these explorations, in hopes of filling in the blanks that existed in many of the maps of the times.

Open to both men and women from its inception, the mission of the American Geographical Society is to advance geographic knowledge and the recognition of geographic scholarship importance in the contemporary world. They promote the use of geography in the fields of business, government, science, and education. AGS’s goal is to enhance the nation’s geographic literacy so as to engender sound public policy, national security, and human well-being worldwide. The Society aims to encourage better analysis and decision-making based on understanding of how real world geography affects society, economics, infrastructure, and politics.

AGS has been instrumental in providing information for many geopolitical issues in the 19th & 20th Century, and continues in this geo-leadership role today. In the 1870’s, AGS members debated and discussed a proposed shipping passage connecting the Atlantic with the Pacific, which later became the Panama Canal. During World War I, preparations for the Paris Peace Conference were held in the AGS offices in New York. When President Woodrow Wilson sailed to France, his envoy carried with them three truckloads of geographic data compiled by Isaiah Bowman, the AGS Director at the time. During World War II, the AGS was called to assist more than 40 agencies of the US Government in its war against the Axis Powers.

The American Geographical Society is the only organization focused on bringing together academics, business people, those who influence public policy (including leaders in local, state and federal government, not-for-profit organizations and the media), and the general public for the express purpose of furthering the understanding of the role of geography in our lives. The Society bridges gaps and promotes connections between leaders and organizations that might not otherwise have the opportunity to interact and provides leadership to frame the national discussion of the growing importance of geography and geo-spatial tools. Everything AGS does is about looking at Geography from a wide perspective and ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to interact and gain a better understanding of the importance of geography. AGS also produces its own flagship journal, The Geographical Review, which is in its 105th year of publication, and is available in digital and traditional paper copies.

AGS maintains one of the rarest globes in the world, adorned with the signatures of famous explorers, pilots, and astronauts over the last 100 years. Known as the Fliers and Explorers Globe, this one-of-a-kind artifact has been signed by such notable individuals as Amelia Earhart, John Glenn, Lincoln Ellsworth, Edmund Hillary, Charles Lindbergh, and most recently, Valentina Tereshkova.

Every year, AGS conducts a Fall Symposium focused on discussing the issues that will face the world in the near future and beyond. This year, the theme for the Fall Symposium is ”Geography2050: Envisioning a Sustainable Planet”, which aims to gather individuals from business, government, and academia to discuss conservation, restoration, and sustainability goals for the next several decades. The Fall Symposium will be held at Columbia University November 17-18th, 2016 – To learn more about the conference and register, visit the Geography2050 site.

The American Geographical Society is an organization with a rich geographic heritage, fascinating history, and a very focused eye on the future of geospatial information and literacy. To learn more about AGS, contribute to its mission and work, or to become a member or corporate partner, visit www.americangeo.org.