American Academy of Religion

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The American Academy of Religion (AAR) is the world's largest association of scholars in the field of religious studies and related topics. It is a nonprofit member association, serving as a professional and learned society for scholars involved in the academic study of religion. It has some 10,000 members world-wide, with the largest concentration being in the United States and Canada. AAR members are university and college professors, independent scholars, secondary teachers, clergy, seminarians, students, and interested lay-people.


It was founded in 1909 as the Association of Biblical Instructors in American Colleges and Secondary Schools.[1] The name was changed to National Association of Biblical Instructors (NABI) in 1933. The American Academy of Religion was adopted as the organization name in 1963[2] to reflect its broader, inclusive mission to foster the academic study of all religions.[3] The changes that have occurred across its meant years of existence have included responding to the demands of women and feminist scholars to incorporate attention to women in religion, increased attention to religions beyond Christianity, differentiation between theology and/or religious reflection from the academic study of religion as a cultural/historical/political phenomenon, and engagement with the wider public in response, for example. to events like the Waco debacle in which scholars of religion remain un-consulted. Presidents of the AAR have included well known scholar with as Judith Plaskow, Mark Juergensmeyer, Wendy Denier, Emilie Townes, Peter J. Paris, and Rebecca Chopp.


AAR publishes the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, generally recognized as the premier academic journal in the field of religious studies.[4] Religious Studies News is the quarterly newspaper of record for the organization; it transitioned from a print to online-only publication in 2010. AAR publishes five book series through Oxford University Press: Academy; Reflection and Theory in the Study of Religion; Religion, Culture, and Theory; Religion in Translation; and Teaching Religious Studies established in order to enhance the importance of our understanding of teaching within the academy by Susan Henking. AAR presents awards each year to notable books in the study of religion. It offers three categories of Awards for Excellence: Analytical-Descriptive Studies, Historical Studies, and Constructive-Reflective Studies.

Annual meeting[edit]

AAR hosts an Annual Meeting each year in November. The AAR Annual Meeting is the world's largest meeting for religious studies scholars. Over 400 events, including meetings, receptions, and academic sessions, occur on the AAR program alone; hundreds more, hosted by affiliated societies and institutions, occur over the course of the meeting. Some 10,000 people attend the AAR Annual Meeting; the location of the meeting changes each year. The AAR Annual Meeting program is developed entirely by volunteers involved in program units representing disciplines and sub-disciplines within the field.

Other activities[edit]

AAR offers activities on a regional level for its members. Professional development resources such as research grants, career services, and scholarships are some of the benefits offer to members. AAR also tries to advocate the importance of the critical study of religion on institutional and national levels.


  1. ^ Gearon, Liam (2013). MasterClass in Religious Education: Transforming Teaching and Learning. London / New York: Bloomsbury Academic. p. 40. ISBN 9781441160065. Retrieved 14 April 2015. 
  2. ^ Clark, Elizabeth (2011). Founding the Fathers. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 8. ISBN 978-0-8122-4319-2. Retrieved 14 April 2015. 
  3. ^ "History of the American Academy of Religion". Official AAR website. Archived from the original on 28 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-18. 
  4. ^ "Journal of the American Academy of Religion". Oxford University Press Journals website. Retrieved 2011-04-09. 

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