Rural Geography Specialty Group

American Association of Geographers



Article I: Purpose

The Rural Geography Specialty Group (RGSG) seeks to promote and encourage research, teaching, and service in the field of Rural Geography. This shall be accomplished through: a) the sponsorship of paper and discussion sessions at the regional and national meetings of the American Association of Geographers (AAG) , as well as other symposiums and conferences whose theme relates to rural geography; b) the encouragement of junior scholars by hosting paper and poster competitions and awarding research grants; c) the exchange of information among RGSG members; and d) the development of relations and interchange with other disciplines and specialty groups.


Article II: Membership

The RGSG is open to all regular members, student members, and associated members in good standing. Regular members are those who are AAG non-student members and who pay annual dues to the RGSG. Student members are those who have AAG student membership status and pay RSGS dues at the student rate. Associate members are those who are not AAG members, but who do pay dues to the RGSG. Associate members are not eligible to vote or hold RGSG office.

Any AAG member will become a member of the RGSG by selecting the RGSG on the AAG annual membership renewal form and by submitting dues for the specialty group. These monies will be collected by the AAG and dispersed to the RSGS as requested by the treasurer.


Article III: Directors

The RGSG is administered by a Board consisting of the following members: a Chairperson, a Co-Chairperson, Treasurer/Secretary, two student representatives, and between three and ten additional Directors. The Executive Committee will exercise general supervision over the affairs of the RGSG and will legislate policies proper to the interests of the RGSG and AAG. The Executive Committee will perform its duties and abide by the limitations specified in these By Laws and the governing Council of the AAG. The Executive Committee will report its actions and decisions to the Annual Business Meeting of the RGSG.

The Board will meet at least once each year during the time of the AAG annual meeting. The Board may conduct additional business by mail, telephone, email, or directly in meetings as needs arise.


A: Election of Board Directors

The officers will be elected by electronic ballot by the general membership of the Rural Geography Specialty Group.   The Secretary/Treasurer will solicit candidates via the Knowledge Community one month before the business meeting.  A Call for Nominations will also be included in the newsletter published prior to the annual AAG meeting.  Nominations will be accepted by the Secretary/Treasurer up to the time of the business meeting.  Additional candidates will be accepted from the floor at the annual business meeting, held in conjunction with the annual American Association of Geographers meeting.  The Secretary/Treasurer will be responsible to prepare the ballot, direct the posting of candidate bios to the organization’s website, distribute the ballot electronically, and supervise the election.  Electronic ballots will be distributed to the membership no later than two weeks after the business meeting.  Eligible voters will be all whose RGSG membership was current with AAG on the first of the month in which the business meeting is held.  Candidates will win by majority vote and must be in good standing with both AAG and RGSG.  If a position on the Board becomes vacant, the Chair may fill the vacancy until the next election, if the board has dropped below six members, or if additional board members are required for particular tasks.


B: Duties of RGSG Board Directors:

  1. Chair. The Chair will be responsible for: a) chairing the annual business meeting; b) together with the Communications Director, the publication of the Rural Geography Specialty Group Newsletters each year; c) submitting to the AAG office, by 31 May of each year, an annual report of the activities, finances, and immediate objectives of the RGSG; d) convey information to and from the RGSG Board to RGSG members and the governing council of the AAG; and e) provide general stewardship for the members of the specialty group in all matters while promoting the discipline of geography in general and the rural geography specialization in particular. The Chair shall be elected at the annual meeting and serve a three-year term. During the third year of service, the Chair shall train the incoming Chair on all duties and responsibilities related to the position.


  1. Co-Chair. The Co-Chair will be responsible for: a) assisting the Chair (in a training/learning role). The Co-Chair shall be elected at the annual meeting and serve a one-year term, filled in alternating years by the previous Chair and incoming Chair.


  1. Secretary/Treasurer. The Secretary/Treasurer will be responsible for: a) receiving and disbursing all funds of the RGSG; b) maintaining an up-to-date list of all members of the RGSG; c) record minutes at the annual business meeting; d) present financial statements of the RGSG at the annual business meeting and as requested by the Chairperson of the Board; e) preside at meetings in the absence of the Chairperson; and f) distribute and collect ballots. The Secretary/Treasurer shall be elected at the annual meeting and serve a three-year term.


  1. Directors (3 to 10). Directors will: a) discuss and evaluate the activities of the RGSG and present their findings at the annual business meeting; b) propose objectives for the RGSG to pursue during the year following the annual business meeting; c) approve or disapprove all activities of the RGSG that are not specifically mentioned in the Bylaws; d) review the accounts of the RGSG before the annual business meeting; and e) each Director will chair or participate in a standing committee of the RGSG, i.e. the Awards Committee, the Meetings Committee, the Communication Committee, and Networking Committee. The number of committee members needed will be determined by the committee chairs in consultation with the Board. Directors should represent a range of regions (at least three within the U.S. and one outside the U.S.), and should serve staggered terms, with at least one new Director elected each year at the annual business meeting.  Director terms last 3 years.


Specific Director roles that must be filled include:

  1. Awards Director. The Awards Director will: a) coordinate the Awards Committee to evaluate award nominations and applicants; b) keep a detailed account of awards and awardees; and c) solicit nominations for awards in conjunction with the Communications Director in the newsletter and appropriate listservs. The Awards Director will be appointed  by the Chair at the annual meeting and will serve a two-year term, helping the incoming Awards Director in the third year as necessary. The Awards Committee will support the Awards Director by: a) coordinating review of student paper (winter before Annual meeting); b) research awards (spring after Annual meeting); and c) recognition awards (summer/fall before Annual meeting).  The Awards Director does not need to be a member of the Board of Directors.
  2. Communications Director. The Communications Director (along with a committee convened by this director as necessary and helpful) will: a) be responsible for gathering and compiling information for the newsletter and website; b) coordinate the distribution of the newsletter (twice a year) and other relevant and timely information to members (including through the AAG online interface – the Communications Director should be subscribed to the SG Chairs list along with the Chair); c) update the RGSG website as appropriate; d) submit appropriate information related to the RGSG to the AAG newsletter. The Communications Directors will be appointed at the annual meeting by the chair and will serve a two-year term, helping the incoming Communications Director in the third year as necessary. The Communications Committee will support the Communication Director by assisting with the newsletter, website, and other communication and outreach tasks.  The Communication Director does not need to be a member of the Board of Directors.
  3. Meetings Director. The Meetings Director will serve as the Board’s central coordinator of efforts being made for each annual meeting, developing methods for communicating with the rest of the board details about special events, field trips, etc. for which their input and support is needed. In addition, the Meetings Director will serve as the central liaison with the Quadrennial Rural Geography Meeting, keeping the Board updated on Quadrennial news and plans. The Meetings Director will be appointed at the annual meeting by the chair.  The Meetings Committee will: a) coordinate Annual meeting events, calls for papers, field trips, etc., while working with the Awards Committee and Networking Committee as appropriate.  The Meetings Director does not need to be a member of the Board of Directors
  4. Networking Director. The Networking Director, together with the Networking Committee, will: a) coordinate efforts to connect to other rural groups as our mission statement suggests; b) coordinate with the Communications Director to facilitate regular reporting on the activities of cognate organization, including recruiting report-backs on their meetings, c) check in at least once per year with the Specialty Groups with which the RGSG shares most topical interests (e.g. Geographies of Food and Agriculture, Cultural and Political Ecology, Development Geographies, and Indigenous Peoples).  The Networking Director will be appointed at the annual meeting by the chair.  The Networking Director does not need to be a member of the Board of Directors.
  5. Student Directors. Two Student Directors will: a) coordinate, with the assistance of the Executive Board, at least one “New Voices in Rural Geography” session at the AAG Annual Meeting; b) solicit student participation in RGSG activities and awards competitions. The student directors will be elected from the student membership, and will serve a two-year term of office (or, if necessary to make sure both students will not cycle off the Board at once, to a one-year term). In the event that a student director graduates to non-student status before the term of office is completed, a new student director will be elected at the next regular business meeting (and the graduate may continue to serve on the board until the next election, at which time s/he is eligible to run for a non-student position).
  6. Directors at Large: Directors should each participate in at least one committee, and additionally will: a) organize, or designate other RGSG members to organize a minimum of one session or event at each AAG annual meeting under the sponsorship of the RGSG, b) liaise between the membership and the Board; c) facilitate RGSG-related activities at the AAG regional meetings and other scholarly meetings; and d) communicate regionally appropriate information to the Communications Director for publication in the newsletter, website and listserv.


Article IV: Standing Committees

The four standing committees of the RGSG are the:

  1. Awards,
  2. Communications,,
  3. Meetings, and
  4. Networking Committees.

Each committee will consist of three members when possible, with at least one member being a student (if possible), and will be convened by the committee chair  at a mutual time and place. The Board may organize ad-hoc committees or task groups at their discretion. The Chair of any ad-hoc committee will report directly to the Board.


Article V: Dues and Expenses

Dues of $8.00/year [$2.00/year for student members] will be collected by the AAG Office and returned to the RGSG. Dues may be used to defray the costs of publishing and distributing the Rural Geography Specialty Group Newsletter, for awards, for registration fees of visiting foreign rural geographers and non-geographers who are speaking in RGSG sponsored sessions at the AAG annual meeting, and, when approved by a majority of the Directors, for other expenses incurred by the RGSG.

The Board may establish reasonable fees for publications, workshops, symposia, and other activities organized under the auspices of the RGSG. With approval from the Board, dues may also be used to pay honoraria for speakers in the RGSG Lecture series and for associated social events.

No part of the net earnings of the RGSG shall inure to the benefit of, or be distributable to its members, trustees, officers or other private persons except in the case of awards, honoraria or expenses incurred by the Board in the fulfillment of its duties. These expenses must be reported to the Secretary/Treasurer to be accounted for in the annual financial report.


Article VI: Ratification and Amendment of Bylaws

Any revision of the bylaws is subject to the unanimous approval of the Board. This can be done electronically. Revisions will then be presented to the voting body at the RGSG business meeting, conducted concurrently with the annual meeting of the AAG, after their review in the preceding newsletter and a posting in the Knowledge Community. An electronic ballot will be sent to all eligible voters within two weeks of the business meeting.  Eligible voters will be all whose RGSG membership was current with AAG on the first of the month in which the business meeting is held.  Any amendments will take effect immediately after majority ratification by electronic ballot.


Article VII: Publications

The RGSG will publish and distribute a newsletter to members at least twice a year. The newsletter will be distributed electronically and archived on the RGSG website. The RGSG may sponsor other publications (directories, proceedings, etc.) as appropriate, subject to the approval of a majority of the voting body at the annual meeting.


Article VIII: Dissolution Clause

Upon dissolution of the organization, the Board shall, after paying or making provisions for the payment of all the liabilities of the organization, dispose of all assets of the organization to the AAG.