Each year many Western Michigan University Department of Geography students participate in the East lakes Division of the American Association of Geographers conference. ELDAAG is a regional subdivision of the American Association of Geographers, representing 19 universities with geography departments, as well as individuals that are housed in other universities in Ohio and Michigan (Lower Peninsula). Membership in ELDAAG is extended to all members of the Association of American Geographers, providing they reside within the boundaries of the Division.
The conference is held annually at various universities, and includes a welcome reception, student gatherings, paper sessions, a banquet and a roundtable discussion.
The 2016 conference, held at Northern Michigan University, featured field trips to these local sites:
- The spectacular geographic setting of central Marquette County emphasizing the unique geology, geomorphology, glacial history, weather and climate of the region.
- A scenic tour of the Marquette area to see the stunning landscapes that make Marquette a special place. Discussion topics included rural economic development, ecotourism and environmental conservation.
- An urban geography walking tour of Marquette from the shore of Lake Superior at Mattson Lower Harbor Park through downtown Marquette. Narration included the history of people in the area from Native American presence to settlement by EuroAmericans; how extraction of natural resources such as iron affected the city's development; and trends in urban geography including architectural elements, affordable housing, reinvestment of local business owners, and the commitment of local shoppers to create and sustain the vibrant downtown.