2018 Annual Meeting Nov 17-20

Mark your calendars for the 2018 Annual Meeting! Plan to join your colleagues in Denver November 17-20. More info to come soon!

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Committee on the Public Understanding of Religion

Charge:  The Public Understanding of Religion Committee fosters attention to the broad public understanding of religion and the role of religion in public life. This charge is achieved by seeking to catalyze the skills and practices among AAR members that promote the public understanding of religion and equip members to more effectively engage issues of religion in the public sphere. The Committee also collaborates with individuals and organizations to promote the public understanding of religion, by using many channels to reach many publics.

Composition:  Up to six members.

Term of Office:  Four years, non-renewable.

Member: Position: Term:
Erik Owens Chair 2017–2018
Evan Berry   2017–2020
Ayesha S. Chaudhry   2014–2017
Simeon O. Ilesanmi   2016–2019
Emma Tomalin   2014–2017
Mara Willard   2016–2019
Steve Herrick AAR Staff Liaison  

Public Scholars Project

The Public Scholars Project is a joint initiative of the American Academy of Religion and the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute. Through seminars and other resources, the Public Scholars Project equips scholars of religion to effectively communicate in the public sphere and foster religious literacy.

Public Scholars Project Fellows: Fall 2017, Spring 2018, or Summer 2018

November 17, 2017, AAR Annual Meeting, Boston: The Public Scholars Project – Practical Skills for the Public Scholar

November 18, 2016, AAR Annual Meeting, San Antonio: Scholar as Activist, Commentator, Specialist 

October 14, 2016, Webinar: Social Media and Scholars of Religion

October 5, 2016, Webinar: Why Us? Why Now? 


AAR Guidelines for Teaching About Religion in K-12 Public Schools in the United States 

In the Public Interest columns:

Rev. J. Bryan Hehir Wins Martin E. Marty Award for the Public Understanding of Religion (November 14, 2016)

Campaign 2016 and the Jewish Problem (November 2, 2016)

Tolerance for Others and Same-Sex Marriage (May 26, 2016)

Religious Liberty in the US: Coming to Terms with Hobby Lobby, RFRA, and RLUIPA (November 17, 2015)

Ziba Mir-Hosseini to Receive 2015 Martin E. Marty Award for the Public Understanding of Religion (June 15, 2015)

The Doniger Affair: Censorship, Self-Censorship, and the Role of the Academy in the Public Understanding of Religion (October, 2014)

Charles Taylor to Receive 2014 Martin E. Marty Award for the Public Understanding of Religion (May, 2014)

Jean Bethke Elshtain (1941–2013) and the Chastened Lives of Public Scholars (October, 2013)

Public, Compared to What? (March, 2013)

Prison Chaplaincy Directors at the AAR Annual Meeting: Multireligion Literacy and Government Accommodation of Religion in Prisons (October, 2012)

Effectively Engaging in Public Dialogue: Scholars and the Public Representations of Islam in the United States (March, 2012)

The Public Understanding of Religion and the AAR (October, 2011)

Is the God Beat Dead? (March, 2011)

Religion, Character, and Education: Another Battleground in the Public Schools? (October, 2010)

Religion Scholars and National Governments: Should They Be Partners? — A Panel Discussion (March, 2010)

Video and Audio Files from Annual Meeting Sessions:

Roundtable on Religion, Race, and the 2016 Elections (San Antonio, 2016)

What’s Love Got to Do with It? Critical Appraisals of Love as a Civic Value (San Antonio, 2016)

The Value of Religious Studies in an Age of Budget Cuts (Atlanta, 2015)

Religious Liberty, The Supreme Court, RFRA, and RLUIPA (Atlanta, 2015)

Media Representations of ISIS - ISIL (Atlanta, 2015)

The Marty Forum: Ziba Mir-Hosseini (Atlanta, 2015)

The Marty Forum: Charles Taylor (San Diego, 2014)

The Marty Forum: Wendell Berry (Baltimore, 2013)

The Marty Forum: Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza (Chicago, 2012)

Public Understanding and Education on Religion Roundtable (San Francisco, 2011)

Who Speaks for Us? Responses to Representations of Islam and Christianity in America (San Francisco, 2011)

Blogging God: On Faith at (Atlanta, 2010)

The Marty Forum: James H. Cone (Montréal, 2009)