About the CGA

Since 1982, the California Geographic Alliance (CGA) has worked to advocate for and support high quality geography education. The CGA was the first of what evolved into a national Network of Alliances for Geographic Education, a group of educators united to support geographic literacy. Since the dissolution of that national network

The California Geographic Alliance (CGA) is dedicated to supporting and improving geographic education and literacy in California through:

  • Professional growth seminars for teachers and credential students: school-site workshops, summer institutes, district in-service training, field trips, methods classes;
  • University Student-K/12 Student Partnering: field trips, tutoring, presentations, classroom support;
  • Developing and distributing educational materials: California Atlas, geographic literature, map skills packets, classroom exercises, thematic maps;
  • Promoting geographic awareness and literacy among the general public: newspaper inserts, editorials, national park handouts, “Family Geography Challenge”, and WEB awareness, and;
  • Advocating structural changes at local and state levels to institutionalize geographic education across the curriculum.

The CGA partners with the California Subject Matter Projects, National Geographic Education Foundation (NGEF), and numerous state-level initiatives designed to support and enrich K-12 education.


On July 31, 2013 NGEF Deputy Director Bob Dulli presented San Diego State University President Elliot Hirshman with an official letter announcing the start of the SDSU Geography Department’s tenure as host institution for the CGA. The connection between SDSU Geography and the CGA continues the proud history of the alliance movement and creates a platform from which geography education in California can reach new heights.

SDSU’s team appreciates that previous CGA leaders – reaching all the way back to Kit Salter – have paved the way for a bright future. The SDSU team also recognizes that the strength of the organization comes from its members, the educators and advocates that work on the front lines of education to keep geography education a dynamic and central piece of K-12 teaching and learning. SDSU geographers are proud to have the opportunity to support and enrich these efforts and look forward to meeting and working alongside members of the CGA family.

National Geographic discontinued funding for the Network of Alliances for Geographic Education at the end of 2018, but continues to be active in promoting geography. The CGA continues to collaborate with National Geographic Society and uses a broad range of grant funding and partnerships to enhance geography instruction in K-12 schools throughout the state. The California Global Education Project has been a key partner and supporter for the CGA. Projects with the American Association of Geographers and National Center for Research in Geography Education create valuable collaboration opportunities at the national and global scales, as does involvement in the National Council for Geographic Education.

The team from SDSU is composed of Director Tom Herman, Alliance Coordinator Kate Swanson, Geospatial Technology Coordinator Ming-Hsiang Tsou, Assistant Coordinator Stuart Aitken, and graduate students who contribute to specific projects and events.

CGA team at SDSU
CGA team at SDSU in Fall 2013 (from left to right: Zia Salim, Tom Herman, Kate Swanson, Cynthia Paloma, Ming-Hsiang Tsou)

CGA from 1982-2013

In 1982 Kit Salter at UCLA founded the California Geographical Alliance, a grassroots-style network that brought geography teachers from primary through university levels together with state administrators to discuss making geography part of the education reform going on in California. Since then, the CGA has continually worked to advocate for and support high quality geography education by providing teacher professional development, developing classroom materials and other resources, sponsoring field trips, and enabling teachers to share information about effective strategies. UCLA and Chico State are among the universities that have hosted the CGA. Most recently, Stephen Cunha served as Alliance Coordinator and Humboldt State University as host institution. That arrangement ended in 2011, at which point Alliance Liaisons Roni Jones and Emily Schell stepped forward to maintain CGA operations and momentum through the transition.