Dr. Carol Harden, the 2021 recipient of the AAG’s Lifetime Achievement Honors, is the quintessential field scientist, professional association leader, and effective science communicator. She has been at the forefront of advancing geography’s role in the natural sciences, whether in the AAG, National Research Council, National Geographic Society, or National Science Foundation. Over a half-century career, Harden has established herself as one of the leading figures in contemporary physical geography and environmental science. More broadly, she has had a tremendous influence across our entire discipline, owing to the many roles she has played at the University of Tennessee, AAG, National Research Council, and National Geographic Society, and as editor of Physical Geography.
Since the 1980s, Harden has done fieldwork in the Andes, including a year on a Fulbright to Ecuador. Her commitment to international fieldwork and diversity in geography and other field disciplines and her encyclopedic knowledge of physical geography allows her to evaluate critically, and advocate for support of, fieldwork, especially by diverse scholars from around the world. In addition to her Latin American research, she has generated a substantial body of research in the U.S., mainly in Appalachia, on soil erosion, watershed hydrology, water quality, and human impacts.
Harden is currently the Chair of the Geographical Sciences Committee and a Member of the Board on Earth Sciences and Resources, both for the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM). She was recently a member of the prestigious and influential Committee on Research and Exploration of the National Geographic Society. She has also served as a member and Chair of the Nominations Committee, Geology, and Geology Section, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Harden was a member (2017) and then Chair (2016-2020) of the Geographical Sciences Committee (GSC-NASEM). In 2010-2012, Harden served first as Vice President and then as President of the American Association of Geographers. She is a compassionate listener and a fair-minded leader. Harden is a mentor with an impact on cultivating new and early-career disciplinary leaders. She does this with a clear vision of geography’s role in science, higher education, and society, allowing her to see and realize new opportunities and build new initiatives. A strong sense of collegiality and caring has allowed her to engage in constructive and productive dialog across several disciplinary divides. For these qualities and achievements, the AAG recognizes Carol Harden as the 2021 recipient of the AAG Lifetime Achievement Honors.