Professor Robert Lake is recipient of 2020 AAG Distinguished Teaching Honors Award

December 4, 2019

The American Association of Geographers (AAG) has announced that Professor Robert W. Lake is the recipient of the 2020 AAG Distinguished Teaching Honors award. Each year, the AAG invites nominations for AAG Honors to be conferred in recognition of outstanding contributions to the advancement or welfare of the profession. AAG Honors are the highest awards offered by the American Association of Geographers. They are offered annually in recognition of outstanding contributions to the advancement or welfare of the profession in the areas of research & scholarship, teaching, education, service to the discipline, public service outside academe and for lifetime achievement. 

A professor of urban planning and policy development at the Bloustein School and a member of the graduate faculty in the Rutgers Department of Geography, Dr. Lake served as the Bloustein School’s Graduate Director and Director of the Doctoral Program in Planning and Public Policy (2009-2015); Acting Director (1997-1998) and Associate Director (1998-2000) of the Center for Urban Policy Research; Co-Director of the Rutgers Community Outreach Partnership Center (1998-2005); and Director of the CUPR Press (1989-2011). Dr. Lake has conducted research on a broad array of planning and public policy issues in the fields of housing, community development, and environmental policy. His current research focuses on community-based planning, urban entrepreneurialism, environmental justice, and the role of social theory in the production of knowledge in the social sciences.

AAG Honorees to be recognized during the 2020 AAG Annual Meeting Awards Luncheon in April, 2020. The AAG announcement was as follows:

Robert Lake, the recipient of the 2020 AAG Distinguished Teaching Honors, is an extraordinary educator and mentor of graduate students and young scholars. He has provided generous, sensitive and supportive teaching and guidance both inside and outside of the classroom. Lake’s goal has been to teach students how to think rather than what to think. His selfless mentorship has allowed students to grow and flourish intellectually.

At Rutgers University, Lake served as dissertation chair or committee member for over 130 doctoral students, many of whom are now leading scholars in urban geography and urban studies. He is well known for his innovative course design, particularly in the area of geographic theory, and his ability to convey to students his deep understanding of the research process. Moreover, he has contributed, through numerous administrative positions, to the structure and organization of graduate education from the department to the university level. Lake has been the recipient of multiple teaching awards inside and outside of Rutgers University.

Lake also has provided discipline-wide mentorship for graduate students and young scholars. As a long-term co-editor of the journal Urban Geography, Lake guided young scholars through the publication process. In his role as organizer of the annual AAG Urban Geography plenary lecture, he provided a forum for intellectual discourse and mentoring. Over the last two decades, Lake has organized the Brooklyn Urban Reading Group, an ongoing, open and inclusive discussion involving faculty and students from nearby universities.

Through his devotion to graduate education and the mentoring of young scholars, Lake has contributed to a network of scholars (affectionately referred to as Bob-net) who are continuing to strengthen the discipline of geography. In the words of a colleague and mentee, Robert Lake’s commitment to “pluralism, engagement, and deep care for others” makes him an exemplary educator and a role model for the discipline of geography.

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