Publication Date

September 1, 1991

Perspectives Section

AHA Activities

Upon the recommendation of the Professional Division, the AHA Council approved at its May 1991 meeting the following advisory opinion and authorized its inclusion as an addendum to the Association’s Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct.


Advisory Opinion Regarding Conflict of Interest

A conflict of interest arises when an individual’s personal interest or bias threatens or appears to threaten to compromise his or her ability to act in accordance with professional or public obligations. Historians frequently encounter such situations as participants in some form of peer review—for example, reviewing grant applications, vetting manuscripts for publication, evaluating annual meeting program proposals, or selecting prize or award recipients. Historians should identify and, where appropriate, recuse themselves from any decisions or other actions in which a conflict of interest or the appearance thereof arises; they should avoid situations in which they may benefit or appear to benefit financially at the expense of their professional obligations. An individual should normally refuse to participate in the formal review of work by anyone for whom he or she feels a sense of personal obligation, competition, or enmity.


At its May 1991 meeting, the AHA Council developed and approved the following statement, which will be appended to the Association’s Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct.

Statement on Discrimination and Harassment in Academia

The American Historical Association encourages educational activities to counter incidents of racist, sexist, anti-semitic, and homophobic behavior (including speech) on school campuses, and also encourages school administrators to speak out vigorously against such incidents. At the same time, the Association disapproves of efforts to limit or punish speech on university campuses. We condemn the violation of academic freedom and First Amendment rights to free speech as well as the harassment and vilification to which some faculty and students have been subjected.


Upon the recommendation of the Teaching Division, the AHA Council approved the following two policy statements at its May 1991 meeting.

Statement on Diversity in History Teaching

Course offerings and textbooks in history, whether for K–12, undergraduate, or graduate classes, should address the diversity of human experience, recognizing that historical accuracy requires attention both to individual and cultural similarities and differences and to the larger global and historical context within which societies have evolved.

Statement on the Holocaust

As we approach the fiftieth anniversary of the downfall of the Nazi regime in 1995, the American Historical Association calls attention to the need to initiate plans now to encourage study of the significance of the Holocaust. To that end, the Association will make available the names of experts on the history of the event.