Our development of the American Geographical Society (AGS) Bowman
Expeditions prototype, México Indígena, is based on our conviction that
geographical understanding is essential for maintaining peace, resolving conflicts,
and providing humanitarian assistance worldwide.
This prototype for global GIS place-based research aimed not only at research
excellence but at setting standards of responsibility and transparency.
the research with the communities being studied, broadening representation and
input to include genuine voices, from rebels to rulers, from left to right, and all
shades in between.
The methodology, with participatory research mapping at the
core, was designed to benefit the participant communities, scholars, students,
other individuals and their respective agencies.
Respecting scholarly publishing
and proprietary rights, as well as the confidentiality of the human subjects
involved, the primary research data are openly available to others, being posted on
our México Indígena Website (
The AGS Bowman Expeditions prototype – in contrast to the controversial human
terrain teams – is led by geographers, not military personnel, who collaborate with
universities, not military battalions. As Bowman researchers we are not embedded
in U.S. military units, have no explicit operational or tactical military objectives,
and are generally not working in harm’s way. Rather, they are motivated by
professor-student interests with “open-source” results they freely exchange.
We recognize that geographical information can be used for military purposes, as
is true for any university-based scholarship.
As researchers on this prototype
expedition, we rest on the conviction that we must have better geographical
understanding of foreign lands and peoples to help avert military interventions
and improve humanitarian aid and economic development. Recent history has
shown how geographical ignorance can lead to war; we believe, conversely,
geographical intelligence can prevent it.
(See AGS Bowman Expeditions
prototype summary article,
THE GEOGRAPHICAL REVIEW, JULY 2008
We trust the American Geographical Society to remain vigilant that the Bowman
Expedition principles, discussed below, are maintained and that the results from
this prototype and future expeditions are used to benefit of humanity.