About the Annual Meeting

Welcome to the American Association of Geographers' Annual Meeting! You will be joined by fellow geographers, GIS specialists, environmental scientists, and other leaders for the latest in research and applications in geography, sustainability, and GIScience. The meeting will be held from Wednesday, April 7- Sunday, April 11, 2021, and will feature over 6,900 presentations, posters, workshops, and field trips by leading scholars, experts, and researchers. 

The Annual Meeting of the AAG is quite possibly the largest geography conference in the world, with over 8,500 geographers converging from the U.S., Canada, and nearly 60 other countries in a typical year. With thousands of different papers and presentations scheduled throughout the conference, you’ll find no shortage of activities that reflect your specific interests within the field of geography.

The 2021 Annual Meeting will be held in Seattle, Washington. 

Annual Meeting Site Selection

How the AAG Selects Its Annual Meeting Venues

If ever you find yourself at a loss for conversation among a group of geographers, simply ask this one question: Where do you think the AAG should hold its next Annual Meeting? Everyone has an opinion on this question, and embellished memories of past meetings to recount; the only risk of raising this question is that the conversation may well go long into the night.

How the AAG Selects Annual Meeting Sites

I frequently am asked why the AAG doesn’t meet in smaller cities such as Ann Arbor or Portland. The fact is that most cities are far too small to host our Annual Meetings. They lack the required number or concentration of hotel rooms and meeting rooms or sufficient airline flights to accommodate our 9,000 attendees. We do have a suite of mid-sized and lower-cost cities that we have used from time to time (most recently Tampa), but ironically these smaller city meetings are among our very lowest-attended meetings despite being our lowest cost venues. So it is not clear that lower venue costs correlate with greater access or attendance (or desirability). Costs of transportation are of course primarily a function of where one lives in relation to the meeting site, rather than the meeting site itself. This is why we try to rotate our meetings among different regions the country, so that each region is involved, and also of course so that geographers can experience many different places.

What about international AAG Meetings?

The AAG has on a few occasions held an Annual Meeting in Canada (Toronto and Montreal). I would love to hold additional AAG meetings in other international locations, from Mexico City to Vancouver to elsewhere. So why not?

One obstacle is that since 9/11, the U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico have become more difficult and uncertain to cross. At the same time, growing numbers of AAG members from other countries now teach or study on visas in the U.S. Many members have expressed concern that if they were to leave the U.S. to attend an Annual Meeting, they may not be able to return easily (or in some cases at all) to the United States. The AAG Council has considered the issue of international Annual Meetings on several occasions during the past decade, and each time the consensus has been it would not be fair to hold the AAG Annual Meeting in a location where a substantial number of our faculty and graduate student members would be unable to attend. It is of course always possible that domestic and international circumstances may change, or that the AAG Council’s position on this issue could change, but for now the consideration of fairness to these many members residing in the U.S. on visas remains the policy.

Controlling Costs at our Annual Meetings

Our conference manager consultants tell us every year that the AAG meetings are the best bargain of any of the dozens of meetings they help organize. We hold a full five day meeting, with elaborate and expensive A/V requirements for 80+ concurrent and fully equipped session rooms, as well A/V systems for large plenary and reception rooms, etc. Our meeting fees are very low and are well below those of nearly all other comparable geography meetings. In addition, our meeting fees have not been increased in many years, despite rising costs in almost every category of expense. The AAG also sponsors many programs which subsidize the costs of attending, including a very progressive registration fee structure for students, un- and underemployed members, and retired geographers, as well as mechanisms to subsidize travel and offset costs for students attending the meeting. Learn more about AAG Annual Meeting cost comparisons at our report, AAG Annual Meeting Fees: An Analysis.


We can always do more, but by all comparative measures, we are doing a very good job of keeping our meeting reasonably priced while providing an incomparable experience. This was illustrated by the responses to the recent McKinley Membership Survey, and also by the remarkable growth in the number of geographers and attendees from other disciplines deciding to attend our Annual Meeting every year. The reality is that thousands of geographers from around the world now choose to attend our meetings, despite the fact that they have dozens of other meeting options to choose from. So, we must be doing something right.

 I hope this quick overview is helpful; we welcome questions and your input and would be happy to discuss any aspects of the AAG Annual Meetings in more detail with you. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me (drichardson [at] aag [dot] org), or Oscar Larson (olarson [at] aag [dot] org). As always we welcome your insight and ideas for improving our annual meetings, and we look forward to seeing you at the Annual Meeting. 

—Doug Richardson, 2018

The AAG Hotel Block

For each Annual Meeting, the AAG works diligently to reserve the accommodations and space we need for our 8,500 attendees and 1,700 sessions.  

When a venue is secured for our meeting, the AAG contracts a number of guest rooms at one or more hotels. In order to acquire the meeting and event space we need for our sessions, exhibits and receptions, we partner with hotels to bring them revenue in the form of booked hotel room nights. 

In making our agreements with our Annual Meeting hotel partners, we receive access to meeting and special event space that we can then use to further our mission of education, engagement, and community among geographers. Without our efforts to book and fill the hotel blocks, the meeting space rental fees would be extremely costly, making the Annual Meeting much more expensive.

Our Annual Meeting hotels are safe, reputable, and centrally located properties in interesting and dynamic cities. The rates at these hotels are negotiated on behalf of attendees to be lower, more equitable, and more predictable over time than the regular rates offered to non-conference attendees. 

Without the support of attendees like you staying in the discounted hotel blocks, our fees and prices would need to drastically change to afford those added costs. These price changes would mean that registration fees and membership dues could rise. The ability of AAG to offer meeting space and materials at little to no charge would disappear and members would get less support when needed. 

AAG staff work tirelessly to find the best prices for its members and for the association by working with various partners in interesting and exciting cities. Please consider staying in the AAG hotel block.

Who attends the AAG Annual Meeting?

AAG members and conference attendees represent a spectrum of research interests from across the geography and related disciplines. Though we may be the American Association of Geographers, over 30% of our attendees annually are from outside the U.S. Students represent a considerable portion of our attendee base as well - over 40% at the 2018 Annual Meeting in New Orleans.

Why should you attend?

The AAG Annual Meeting provides a dynamic forum for leaders in the discipline to showcase the most recent trends in geographic ideas and technologies. With attendees from academia, government, business, and the nonprofit sector, finding your place at the AAG Annual Meeting is easy.

Thinking about attending on behalf of your institution or organization? 
The AAG provides a justification letter all prospective attendees are invited to use to help with the funding request process. The letter provides the details needed to convince your supervisor or department that attending #aagDenver will benefit you and your organization.