Guidelines for the Review and Evaluation of Annual Meeting Program Units
The following guidelines have been established by the AAR Program Committee for use in the periodic review of Annual Meeting program units.
- Rationale: The review and evaluation process represents the chief
means by which the Academy assesses the work of its constituent Annual
Meeting program units. It is also intended to serve as a way of ensuring
that the Academy is responsive to important changes and developments in
the academic study of religion in North America and thus remains
authentically representative of the interests and concerns of its members.
- Assumptions: The review of program units is undertaken for the
express purpose of determining which units shall be continued. For
renewal, there needs to be a favorable review and evaluation, a compelling
argument for continuation, and persuasive evidence of intellectually
imaginative plans for another term. Seminars are nonrenewable.
Consultations may continue no more than three years, renewable once by
the Program Committee. At the end of the second three-year term,
consultations applying for a change of status must undergo a formal
review. Thus sections, groups, and consultations undergo these formal
- Procedures: The review of sections, groups, and
consultations is based on at least
three forms of evidence:
- The program unit's annual reports to the Program Committee since the last review.
- A written report from the chair of the unit (due to the reviewer and to the executive office by October 15). This report must present a persuasive case for renewal. Among the elements of the case are a clear and convincing rationale for the work of the unit, a defined analytical focus, articulated methodology(ies), and a set of goals to be achieved during the next term. It must be evident how the work will contribute to the academic study of religion. The report must make a compelling argument for renewal, rather than being simply descriptive or thematic.
- The reviewer's written report, based on: his/her knowledge of the
sub-field and of the unit's performance/reputation; attendance at the
unit's sessions during the Annual Meeting when the unit is under review;
attendance at the unit's business meeting; personal interviews with the
chairperson(s) of the unit and the members of the steering committee, as
well as with a cross section of the unit's participants at the Annual
Meeting and with selected participants from earlier years, if that can be
- Criteria: Among the criteria for the review are the following:
- the imagination, conceptual richness, and scholarship that have gone into the unit's sessions;
- the extent to which the unit's constituency has been afforded an opportunity to participate in the sessions (with attention to diversity of age, race, ethnicity and gender among participants);
- the degree of commitment that the unit's constituency seems to exhibit to the ongoing life of the unit;
- the extent to which the field of interest represented in/by the unit continues to reflect a major area of interest and work for a significant portion of the Academy's membership;
- the unit's range of appeal to those members of the Academy whose own fields of specialization do not normally fall within the field of interest represented by the unit and the unit's ability to involve such people periodically in its programs;
- the intellectual caliber and distinction of the work carried on by the unit, whether through the presentation of papers, the sponsorship of discussions, or the publication of proceedings;
- and, finally, the promise the unit offers of advancing the academic
study of religion, or the relation of that study to other disciplines.
- The reviewer should arrange to meet with the chair(s) and steering
committee of the unit under review near the conclusion of the Annual
Meeting to let them know the substance of the report that the reviewer
intends to make to the to the Program Committee.
- The chair(s) and steering committee of the unit under review may
choose to submit to the Program Committee materials responsive to the
reviewer's evaluation of the unit.
- The Program Committee will consider all review reports and related
documents. Since the Committee must consider the case for renewal in
relation to a range of other considerations, a positive reviewer's report
is necessary but not by itself sufficient for renewal.
- Decisions of the Committee regarding the future of a program unit are final, except in case of termination of a section, which may be appealed to the AAR Board of Directors. (As a practical matter this would entail a minimum of one year's hiatus, given the short time between Committee decisions and publication of the Call for Papers.