From the AHA Activities column of the March 2006 Perspectives

Council Decisions, January 2006

AHA Staff, March 2006

At its meetings in Philadelphia on January 5 and 8, 2006 (during the 120th annual meeting), the AHA Council reached the following decisions:

  • Approved the minutes from the June 4–5, 2005, Council meeting.

  • Established a working group to consider the future of the Association. The official charge of the working group is:

      • The Working Group should direct its primary attention to the problem of membership. Everything the AHA does—the AHR, Perspectives, the annual meeting, the committee structure—reflects a certain image of the membership's character and needs. The Group's initial task is to examine this image carefully and critically by studying the size and composition of the Association's current constituencies. It should then consider how well the AHA serves these constituencies, and how might it serve them better? How can the Association grow and how will this growth affect its organization and functions? The Group should, therefore, use the problem of membership as the lens through which to examine all of the Association's programs and purposes.

      • Much of the Working Group's time will be spent considering how the Association can represent the diversity of its members' intellectual and practical needs as well as the needs of those historians who do not currently belong to the AHA. But behind this concern for diversity should be an attempt to define what historians share, their common commitment to history's value and excitement, their belief in history's power to inform and enrich our individual and collective existence. The AHA's future depends on the ability to persuade a substantial number of historians that it expresses their common commitment to the importance of knowing about the past.

      • Because the Working Group will be small, we expect that it will consult with a number of individuals and groups within and outside of the Association. Staff support and a modest budget will be provided.

      • It is essential that the Working Group's final report be a plan for action, that is, a clearly defined statement of what needs to be done in order to put its recommendations into practice. In this way, the Working Group should establish an agenda that will shape the Association's priorities well beyond June 2007.

  • Accepted the independent auditors' report on the AHA's finances for fiscal 2004–05.

  • Approved the nomination of the next recipient of the Theodore Roosevelt-Woodrow Wilson Award (which will be conferred at the 121st annual meeting to be held in Atlanta in January 2007).

  • Approved revisions to the annual meeting guidelines. Starting with the proposals to be submitted for the 2008 annual meeting (for which the deadline will be February 15, 2007), the guidelines will read:

    • 3.1) Session types: Proposals should be designated in one of the following session types. In order to encourage discussion and exchange at the meeting, the Program Committee will give priority to sessions that foster discussion and discourage the practice of reading papers. To assure substantial time for interaction between speakers and audience, all panels are limited to a maximum of five participants serving as speakers or commentators.

      • A. Discussions/Roundtables: The roundtable or the discussion format—which can be used for the presentation of original research, work-in-progress, or discussion of professional concerns—offers short, 10-minute presentations, a fluid organization (not limited to the chair/presenter/commentator structure), and ample time for discussion with the audience. Roundtables differ from discussions in that the former take place in a non-podium setting (with the audience gathered around the panel) to facilitate a more congenial exchange between audience and discussants.

      • B. Experimental sessions: This format is intended to allow members to organize a panel using novel forms of presentation (in terms of organization or content), which are not covered by the other session types. Members who would like to organize such panels are welcome to do so, provided they clearly explain the form and content of their panels, their ability to engage and connect with an audience of their peers, and the potential costs involved.

      • C. Formal sessions: The formal session is organized around a chair and a commentator, with two or three presenters speaking for 15 minutes. While this has been the standard form, the Association encourages the informal presentation of research, instead of the rote reading of papers.

      • D. Poster sessions: Poster sessions allow historians to present their data and discuss their research with colleagues in a less formal setting, using illustrative materials placed on a board. Poster sessions allow for the presentation of professional issues, original research, or work in progress through posted visual materials—such as pictures, photographs, and text—displayed on bulletin boards. Posters are the only exception to the bar on submission of solo presentations.

      • E. Precirculated presentations: Sessions using this format are organized around presentations (papers or other online presentations, such as PowerPoint presentations) made available in advance, to allow for minimal presentations and more time for active and engaged discussion of the findings. Organizers need to submit the presentations for web posting by December 1, prior to the meeting.

      • F. Practicum session: A practicum is a session in which members can learn or develop practical skills. A practicum is ideal for demonstrating the use of new or innovative tools for the classroom or for research.

      • G. Workshop: Workshops consist of multiple sessions on a common theme, possibly using a variety of the session types described above. Ideally, this should provide the opportunity for a more focused discussion in which participants bring a common level of knowledge or skill to bear on a subject, typically toward some practical end (e.g., developing a work-in-progress or new professional skills). These sessions require pre-approval by the Program Committee. Preliminary proposals, summarizing the broad topic and outlining sessions and session types, are due by December 15. The deadline for specific information on participants and session topics will be the same as the other sessions.

  • Amended the official prize policy of the Association to include electronic publications. The relevant rule will now read:

    • 8. Works published in digital media will be eligible for all book prizes and awards. The committees will apply the same general standards to the review of electronic books as to those published in print.

  • Approved the expansion of the Program Committee by one person, and agreed to extend the length of the committee's fall meeting.

  • Approved an increase in funding for international scholars to attend the annual meeting.

  • Approved President-elect Barbara Weinstein's recommendation of Nancy Tomes (SUNY, Stony Brook) as the chair of the 2008 Annual Meeting Program Committee.

  • Unanimously approved the "Resolution on the United States Government's Abusive Policies Toward Foreign Prisoners" as adopted at the Business Meeting.

  • Unanimously approved the "Resolution Opposing Academic and Student Bills of Rights and Similar Regulations of the Academic Community" as adopted at the Business Meeting.

  • Approved the Committee on Women Historians' document "Gender Equity in the History Work Place: A Guide to Best Practices" which will complement the companion statement, "Gender Equity in the Academic History Work Place: A Guide to Best Practices" (adopted in May 2005 ).

  • Subsequent to the January meeting, the Council took the following decisions through electronic voting (by e-mail):

    • Approved of the nomination of Peter Sigal (Duke Univ.) as the 2008 Program Committee co-chair.

    • Appointed Council members Teofilo Ruiz to the Finance Committee and Mrinalini Sinha to the Committee on Affiliated Societies.