Mission and Values

American Academy of Religion


The American Academy of Religion's mission is to foster excellence in the academic study of religion and enhance the public understanding of religion.


The AAR upholds the following values as core to its mission and operations. Definitions are adapted from the AAR's Professional Conduct Policy:

Academic Excellence

Academic excellence encompasses all values held by the AAR, requiring the organization and its scholarly community to balance many things: scholarly orthodoxies and disciplinary innovations, collaboration and individual genius, rigor and inspiration, and leading and following. Academic excellence demands a continuous process of mining fields of study for fresh insights, engaging in rigorous intellectual exchanges with colleagues, and reevaluating one’s path. 

Critical Examination

The AAR understands critical examination as the process of intellectual evaluation in which all scholars, regardless of their approach to the study of religion, are trained. It entails weighing evidence and arguments fairly, with an open mind to all possibilities—including one’s own errors and failures of apprehension or interpretations.  


The AAR recognizes the importance of diversity in teaching, research, and service as well as the scholarly representation of different cultures, social locations, perspectives, disability experiences, and professional standings. These enrich and enlarge our understanding of ourselves and our community. 

Free Inquiry

The AAR believes that free inquiry undergirds discovery, expansion, and discussion of ideas in research, scholarship, and teaching; the AAR also believes free inquiry requires protection, especially for those at risk due to faculty status. By deepening and enriching our understanding through the generation of new questions, arguments, and lines of investigation, free inquiry fosters original and valuable insights.


The AAR is committed to creating a welcoming and inclusive environment that values and respects the contributions of all its members. The AAR challenges practices that have intentionally or unintentionally excluded underrepresented scholars and scholarly perspectives. 

Professional Responsibility

The AAR believes the organization and its members have an obligation to treat others honestly, fairly, and with dignity; to maintain integrity and accountability in all professional interactions; and to diligently avoid any behavior that could exploit power or status differences.


The AAR recognizes the inherent worth of each member of the organization and is committed to giving careful attention to the constellations of power, status, and privilege that affect interactions and relationships. Fostering respect requires acknowledging and accommodating the challenges and the collaborative value of lived difference to the academy, to the academic study of religion, and to civil society.


The AAR promotes a culture of openness, accountability, reflexivity, integrity, and honesty. Clarity of information and the effective flow of that information foster confidence in the fairness of the processes of the organization. Transparent organizational practices also serve to increase diversity and inclusion and invite broader membership involvement.