American Academy of Religion

Long-Range Plan

Develop • engage • Advocate • Adapt


Framework for a New Chapter

The AAR's long-range plan provides a framework for growth and change in the coming years. Organized around four key priorities, the plan addresses concerns from AAR members, issues faced by religion scholars and humanities professionals, and the rapid spread of misinformation in the public sphere.

This microsite provides a breakdown of the four goals, highlights select initiatives, and spotlights relevant work being done by AAR leadership groups. To put these goals in context, visit the About the AAR section of this microsite to learn about the AAR's legacy, community, and resources. If, after reviewing the goals, you would like to get involved with the AAR by becoming a member, serving in a leadership role, connecting with the AAR on social media, or giving feedback on the long-range plan, visit Get Involved to find out how.





The first goal of the AAR's long-range plan is to cultivate and support a diverse community engaged in the academic study of religion. By providing year-round professional development opportunities and resources that benefit members whatever their career type or stage, the AAR endeavors to strengthen connection and engagement across all constituencies.







The second goal of the AAR's long-range plan is to promote the public understanding of religion—a priority also reflected in the AAR's updated mission statement. Key initiatives focus on the creation and dissemination of resources for educators, government and civic leaders, and journalists as well as increased visibility of the work being done by members.





The third goal of the AAR's long-range plan is to advocate for the study of religion and the humanities and those who undertake it. These advocacy efforts include improving data collection on the field and access to such information by religion departments in addition to bolstering partnerships with sibling societies and organizations. 




The fourth and final goal of the AAR's long-range plan is to strengthen organizational agility and transparency. Ensuring equitable treatment of all members, enabling greater access to leadership opportunities, and identifying needs and opportunities will allow the AAR to serve members and the field effectively both now and in the future.


AAR Leaders Look to the Future

In the video below, David P. Gushee, 2018 AAR president, shares his thoughts on the new direction the long-range plan outlines and the AAR's obligation to anticipate and respond to the challenges of an evolving field and its relationship to the public.


Long-range plans come and go in the worlds of not-for-profits and higher education, often with mixed results. What sets the AAR’s apart is its grounding in three important areas: the direct input of our members, our organization’s financial realities, and a commitment to accountability. A wide variety of constituents—including graduate students, contingent faculty, and volunteer leaders—informed the plan’s goals and strategies through participation in focus groups, interviews, and Annual Meeting gatherings. Each initiative is tied carefully to our budget, and members can expect follow-up communication that reflects our goal of increasing transparency and agility. Together, these elements position our plan for long-term success.
— Jack Fitzmier, AAR Executive Director, 2006-2018
Jack Fitzmier and Alice Hunt

Jack Fitzmier and Alice Hunt

I am delighted to be joining this extraordinary organization at a time ripe with opportunities and challenges. It has never been more important to create spaces for society to benefit from the AAR’s greatest resource—a membership of more than 8,000 experts who work tirelessly in colleges, universities, graduate schools, seminaries, and a wide variety of related fields around the world. We are more committed than ever to supporting our members, advocating for the humanities and the academic study of religion, and strengthening the public understanding of religion in ways that bring betterment for people and communities everywhere. This long-range plan provides a road map for relevance.
— Alice Hunt, AAR Executive Director

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Explore the Four Goals: