The American Association of Geographers (AAG) holds an annual convening aimed at connecting geographic scholars from across the world, sharing developments and offering a glimpse into the powerful place-based connections that researchers discover across disciplines. At the Center for Social Solutions, the role of ‘place’ and the built environment factor into many initiatives and projects. Most notably, the Center’s Water, Equity, and Security initiative seeks to re-join the social and physical geographies of people and place as they pertain to natural disasters and water security. The Linear Infrastructure Named for Enablers of Slavery (LINES) project also treats geography as an active, yet changeable, factor in determining our social landscape. For Brad Bottoms, “geography is central to social and climate justice as it contextualizes the spatial distribution of resources and power. By learning geography, we grasp how socio-economic factors, such as poverty and race, interact with physical environments, leading to systemic vulnerabilities to climate change.” 

At the AAG’s April convening, Bottoms presented as part of the panel: “What is Progress in Environmental Geography?” Fellow presenters included Elizabeth Havice (University of North Carolina), Yamini Narayanan (Deakin University), Jane Southworth (University of Florida), Michele Lobo (Deakin University), Kevin Anchukaitis (University of Arizona), Neeyan Smith (Gumbaynggirr Jagun), and Lara Daley (University of Newcastle). Reflecting the spirit of the new journal Progress in Environmental Geography, this panel embodied the journal's commitment to a pluralistic understanding of the field. The panel explored environmental issues through a kaleidoscope of perspectives, ranging from considering the world through the eyes of animals to examining progress through an anti-colonial lens. This lively discussion showcased the multifaceted nature of environmental geography and the concept of progress itself, prompting the audience to consider the environment from a multitude of angles.

CSS has been at the forefront of this issue, with an article by Julie Arbit, Brad Bottoms, Earl Lewis, and Alford Young Jr. appearing in 2023’s second volume of Progress in Environmental Geography. This article, The evolution of race and place in geographies of risk and resilience, examines the ways in which urban geographies around the world intersect with racial and ethnic patterns of climate risk, arguing that “racial justice is environmental justice” (p. 123). 

On presenting to the American Association of Geographers, Bottoms remarked: “Presenting at the AAG was truly inspiring. Geographers tackle such a vast array of subjects, from the intricacies of soundscapes to the movements of glaciers and the very way we perceive our planet. The diversity of ideas I encountered not only reaffirmed the critical role geographers play in the world, but also sparked new perspectives on my own work. I left feeling energized and equipped with a wealth of inspiration to carry forward.”