Geography Bowl


The History of World Geography Bowl

Submitted by Bryon Middlekauff

World Geography Bowl began in 1987 at North Carolina State University when a graduate student challenged other North Carolina universities to a “Jeopardy” like game of world affairs in a friendly competition. In 1990, Appalachian State University was invited to compete and then Geography Department Chair Neal Lineback took a team of students to Duke University to compete against nine other teams from around North Carolina. Lineback immediately recognized the potential for World Geography Bowl to excite attract students to attend professional meetings.

In 1990, he challenged the other nine states in the Southeastern Division of the Association of American Geographers (SEADAAG) to bring their best students to the regional meeting in November. The competition was an overwhelming success. This began the annual competitions. In November of 1991, Bryon Middlekauff of Plymouth State University traveled to the SEADAAG meeting in Asheville, NC to observe the competition there and to learn how the event was organized. In the spring of 1993, he brought Plymouth State students to Atlanta, GA to compete in the first AAG World Geography Bowl contest in an exhibition event.

Since that time, NESTVAL has hosted a Bowl nearly every year at its annual meetings. Many geographers have contributed question sets, have served as time keepers, score keepers, and moderators, and hundreds of students have participated. Steve Young of Salem State University assumed the role of Bowl organizer in about 2006 while Middlekauff continues to organize the all-star team which competes at the national meetings of the Association of American Geographers. Young introduced the idea of visual question to the NESTVAL competition in about 2006, where satellite images and maps are used as key components of the questions. The national competition organizers adopted this idea for use in the final round shortly thereafter.

World Geography Bowl originated in SEADAAG but grew because NESTVAL began its participation soon after and helped to bring the competition to the national stage.

Year 1st Place Winner
2022 UConn (runner up – UMass Amherst)
2020 UMass Amherst (runner up – UNH)
2013 Bridgewater State University (runner up – Clark University)
2012 Clark University
2011 Concordia University
2010 University of Connecticut
2009 Plymouth State University