How To Use Your Scholarly Society to Promote Young Scholars

The following post comes from my new newsletter. I’ve decided to blog less and use the newsletter for thoughts like these. You should subscribe here to get the goods. 

The North American Association for the Study of Religion, or NAASR, just released its program for the 2015 meeting this November in Atlanta. And it is an excellent example of how to foster the careers of young scholars.

For those who don’t know about NAASR, I’d suggest you read this great interviewwith the new NAASR president (and colleague of mine here at Alabama), Russell McCutcheon. NAASR meets concurrently with the American Academy of Religion (AAR) and is an affiliated society within the AAR. As McCutcheon describes it, NAASR is “a small but active scholarly association, that meets annually and publishes peer review research, with an emphasis on the role theories and methodologies play in making scholarship on religion possible, persuasive, and innovative.”

Anyways, this year NAASR totally reimagined the usual call for papers and conference program formula. This year the call for papers solicited abstracts for papers to set up four panels at the annual meeting that would focus around pre-circulated full length papers. These full-length papers would then be responded to by a set of respondents who would think with and through the papers. But here’s the great part. When the final program came out this week it became clear that these respondents were all early career scholars–from graduate students to newly minted assistant professors. I am happy to be one of these respondents. And to make things even better, all the papers and responses from the meeting will become a published anthology.

This is how you grow the field. This is how you encourage good work. And this is how you help emerging scholars become established scholars. Get them involved. Invite them to serve as respondents on dynamic panels “with the grown ups” who have tenure. And get them published.

Kudos to the NAASR organizers for putting this promising program together. In ten years I hope we’ll look back at this program and we’ll all be surprised just how many “established” scholars were “emerging” at this conference.


Stuff That I Wrote Recently

My response as part of a panel on Amanda Porterfield’s book Conceived in Doubt appeared in Fides et Historia. 

I wrote an article about how I use blogging in my classes.

I’m also really proud of this blog post over at Religion in American history about belief and surveillance. I might work on this some more–there’s probably and article to write here.


Also, check out our new design over at Sacred Matters. Very clean.


What I’m Working on Now

I just finished a couple short encyclopedia entries on the India and Hinduism for the Diction of American History, Supplement: America in the World, 1776 to the Present.

I also just wrapped up an article reviewing the various podcasts in the religious studies that have been produced in the past few years. I also get into the question of what podcasting religious studies should look like. That should come out in Religion sometime in the future.

But the big project right now is a chapter for anthology on “the fiscal turn” in American religious history. I was asked to write about Hinduism and Buddhism (surprise) and business/money. Plugging away at that.


That’s it for this one. Now, don’t forget to subscribe!

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