When Janice Edith Jones Monk was younger, her father taught her the value of having wide global interests. She loved learning, so she thought the education scholarship program offered in the Australian state of New South Wales would be a perfect fit: the government would pay for her academic endeavors as long as she became a public school teacher. Another requirement was that she had to take four subjects that could be combined with teaching. Psychology was mandatory, and English and history were easy fill-ins. Dr. Jones Monk selected geography as her fourth on a whim. Little did she know, however, that this decision would set the course for the rest of her career.
The geography program at the University of Sydney was very active. There were only about 50 students, so teachers knew everyone on a first-name basis, and the lab portion of the curriculum included field trips and small projects. By the time Dr. Jones Monk reached her fourth year at the institution, she was more invested in geography than teaching. She was offered a position as a research assistant and tutor in the geography department, which lasted for three years. Dr. Jones Monk liked it so much that she opted to pay back the scholarship program so she could pursue geography and higher education professionally. After completing a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Sydney, with honors, she earned a Master of Arts and a PhD from the University of Illinois.
Dr. Jones Monk’s enhanced education served her well throughout her journey. She started as a geography instructor and assistant professor at the University of Illinois, and eventually moved to the University of Arizona. There, she became the associate director and then the executive director of the Southwest Institute for Research on Women. Dr. Jones Monk has been a retired professor in the School of Geography and Development and a research social science emerita at the University of Arizona since 2005 and 2004, respectively. Over the years, she has also lent her skills to the National Geographic Society, the International Geographical Union, Prescott College, the National Council for Geographic Education, the Society of Woman Geographers, and the National Council for Research on Women. She remains a member of the Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona’s advisory board of directors.
Another way Dr. Jones Monk shares her knowledge is through professional journals and books. She was the co-editor of “Practicing Geography” in 2013, “Aspiring Academics” in 2009, “Presidential Musings from the Meridian” in 2004, “Encompassing Gender: Integrating International Studies and Women’s Studies” in 2001, and “Women of the European Union: The Politics of Work and Daily Life” in 1996. In 1995, she was the executive producer of the film, “The Desert is No Lady.”
As a testament to her success, Dr. Jones Monk was honored with a Distinguished Alumni Award from the Department of Geography and Geographic Information Science at the University of Illinois in 2017 and with an honorary PhD from Autonomous University in Barcelona in 2013, as well as with numerous accolades from the American Association of Geographers (AAG). She was named a fellow of the organization in 2017, and received an Enhancing Diversity Award in 2008, a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002, an Honors Award in 1992, and a Meritorious Service Award for her Perspectives on Women Group in 1988. Notably, the AAG created an award named in her honor in 1997. Her achievements were highlighted in various editions of Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in the West, Who’s Who in American Education, and Who’s Who of American Women.