Enabling Growth & Connection
The rich diversity of the AAR membership constitutes one of its greatest advantages as a learned society. Maintaining that position of strength means offering equally diverse support structures and tools to benefit members with varying interests, challenges, and career paths. The first goal of the long-range plan calls for the AAR to become a central hub of information and engagement that allows every member to develop professionally, share knowledge and experience, and connect with colleagues throughout the year.
Cultivate and support a diverse community engaged in the academic study of religion
Strategy A: Foster pedagogical excellence
Strategy B: Advance research and scholarship
Strategy C: Strengthen regional and international collaboration among scholars
Strategy D: Provide a member experience that benefits the full range of religious studies scholars and professionals
Access to professional development resources varies considerably among AAR members. For those not affiliated with an institution with robust support services, figuring out how to write grants, publish, or prepare for academic (and non-academic) interviews can be overwhelming. By creating and assembling resources that address these and other professional development topics, the AAR will help fill gaps and streamline information gathering.
In addition to expertise demonstrated through scholarship and teaching, the AAR membership knows a great deal about navigating personal and professional journeys. Connecting members looking for counsel and those with relevant experience will help strengthen the overall AAR community, providing particular support for emerging scholars, those looking to make a career shift, contingent faculty, and underrepresented groups.
a 365 organization
As the largest event in the religious studies field, the AAR Annual Meeting offers significant networking and CV-building opportunities. Increasingly, however, many scholars are unable to attend due to a lack of institutional support or other logistical challenges. By making more Annual Meeting programming available online and providing digital collaboration spaces, the AAR can shift from being known primarily for its annual event to being viewed as a year-round association that supports members wherever they are.
Spotlight on Volunteer Leadership
The following AAR Working Groups are actively involved in projects that speak to the professional development and connection needs of AAR members:
academic relations committee
The Academic Relations Committee promotes attention to and develops resources for enhancing members’ professional development and the institutional forms within which the study of religion takes place. The committee generates programs, undertakes studies, articulates best practices, and develops electronic and other resources for the undergraduate and graduate study of religion.
Applied Religious Studies Committee
The Applied Religious Studies Committee discusses the ways in which graduate education in religious studies, theology, and the humanities more broadly prepares scholars for and enhances practice of a variety of non-faculty careers. The committee fosters conversation about diverse career paths outside the academy within the context of the wide variety of reasons scholars might choose to pursue such work, acknowledging but also looking beyond the challenging academic job market. It explores ways faculty, institutions, and the AAR can enhance support of scholars both as they explore and after they have entered non-faculty careers. The committee also seeks to ask how such scholars may be especially suited to contribute to a broader public understanding of religion.
Graduate Student Committee
The Graduate Student Committee addresses the needs and concerns of graduate students and promotes their professional development and participation in the AAR and the academy as a whole. Every year, the Graduate Student Committee develops student-focused programming for the Annual Meeting, and the committee chair sits on the AAR Board of Directors.
International Connections Committee
The International Connections Committee fosters attention to the worldwide scope of scholarship in religion and the international composition of the AAR’s membership. The committee sponsors special programs, communicates with scholars abroad, and extends hospitality to international attendees at the Annual Meeting. Its signature program is the Collaborative International Research Grant competition, for which committee members evaluate proposals and serve as the grants jury.
Teaching and Learning Committee
The Teaching and Learning Committee promotes excellence in teaching and learning in religion by developing programs for members. The committee also oversees the Excellence in Teaching Award and facilitates the Spotlight on Teaching, which is published every fall and spring in Religious Studies News (RSN).
theological education committee
The Theological Education Committee meets the scholarly and professional needs of theological educators by creating programs and services that bring theological studies into the wider conversation of the AAR and enriches the work of theological educators. The committee also coordinates pre-conference workshops at the Annual Meeting and publication of the Spotlight on Theological Education in RSN each year.