2020 Annual Meeting

Your AAR staff continues to work toward holding the Annual Meeting in Boston, Nov. 21-24, 2020. We are aware of the uncertainty and contradictory projections related to the COVID-19 pandemic and with health and safety as a priority, we will continue monitoring the guidance of governments and health experts as we plan and make decisions. Should any changes need to be made related to the 2020 Annual Meeting, we will promptly notify you.

2020 Regional Meetings

Open Registration:

All remaining regional meetings for 2020 have been canceled

Frequently Asked Questions - Program Unit Chairs

I just want to talk to a human being; how can I do that?

Please call Robert Puckett at 1-404-727-1461.

You can confirm the AAR's hours of operation under "Office Hours" on the Contact Us page.

How long is a session at the Annual Meeting?

Program sessions are two-and-one-half hours, two hours, or 90 minutes. Although sessions may be shorter, none may be longer.

How many sessions do program units receive?

Session allotment varies faccording to a five tier system. Each Unit is assigned to a Tier, and may choose from two options of how to allocate their sessions. To check your program units’ session allotment, see the Program Unit Information.

What about extra sessions?

Units may take on an additional 90-minute session by cosponsoring a session with another unit. Seminars do not get an extra session.

What are the guidelines for cosponsoring a session?

Cosponsorship counts as both cosponsoring units’ extra session (e.g., if the Black Theology Unit and Ritual Studies Unit cosponsor a session, it counts as both units’ third session). If program units cosponsor more than one session, these cosponsored sessions will be counted against the regularly allotted sessions for that unit. Please contact the executive office in advance if you plan to cosponsor more than one session, so that we may advise you.

When cosponsoring a session, one of the program units should serve as the organizing unit for the session in the event that the executive office needs to contact someone regarding the session. That is, only one unit should enter session and participant information for a cosponsored session, when session information is submitted online.

What are the requirements for participants at the Annual Meeting?

Current AAR membership is required to participate (unless an exception for persons whose work is not in religion or are from a developing country is granted by the Chief Scholarly Engagement Officer). Program unit chairs should request exceptions as soon as possible and not later than March 31. Authorization from the Chief Scholarly Engagement Officer must be secured before making such an invitation. Requests should be made to

Non-member participants (whose participation has not been approved by the Chief Scholarly Engagement Officer) entered into PAPERS will be sent notification that their participation is on hold until their membership is current. It is the responsibility of the program unit chairs to ensure that all participants are current members. If you have a question regarding a member’s status, please follow these steps:

  1. Check the AAR Membership Directory.
  2. If you don't find the individual in the Membership Directory, she or he may not be current in AAR membership or may simply have elected to withhold contact information from the Membership Directory; if the person is not found, please contact the Annual Meeting Team to check whether the individual is an AAR member.

Participants must register for the Annual Meeting to be listed on the program. Persons not registered for the Annual Meeting by June 30 will not be listed in the program book.

How many times can a person be on the Annual Meeting program?

In order to ensure the broadest participation of members, no individual may be on the program more than two times. Business meeting presiders may appear thrice.

What constitutes a roundtable or paper session at the Annual Meeting?

The Annual Meeting program has two types of sessions: paper sessions and roundtable sessions. A “roundtable” is a session with one announced theme and a list of participants who address that theme but do not present separate formal papers. A session with a theme and separately announced paper titles/presentations is considered a “papers” session. A prearranged roundtable proposal is a complete session (theme, presider, participants, and respondent) that is submitted to a program unit. In the Call for Papers, members submitting complete sessions were advised that they must submit all necessary materials to a program unit chair for consideration. At times, a single session might have two themes. If you plan to do this with any session, please notify the Chief Scholarly Engagement Officer in advance of submitting your Session Requests.

How many proposals can a person submit?

The limit on submissions is two. These may consist of the same proposal submitted to two different program units, or any combination of different proposals.

How are the program unit session materials submitted for the program?

Each chair prepares session materials in their entirety and submits them to the executive office by the April 1 deadline through PAPERS. For each session planned, online session forms must be submitted which include: theme of session, participants, abstracts, and AV requests. Again, for those units using PAPERS the session entry process will be greatly expedited. Either way, Program Book copy will be generated automatically from the materials submitted online. As always the link for PAPERS will be available from the Program Unit Chair Resources page in March.

How do I make audiovisual requests?

The planning and scheduling of audiovisual (AV) equipment at the Annual Meeting relies upon the accurate request for equipment through the PAPERS System. If there are requests that are puzzling or incomplete, please check with the participant for clarification. Unusual arrangements must be finalized with the executive office as early as possible. The executive office reserves the right to decide whether the AV can be provided, depending on costs and availability. Every attempt will be made to accommodate AV requests received through the proposal system. The cost of any AV needs received after that date are the responsibility of the participant or the program unit, not the AAR. More information can be found on the AV Requests page.

How do I notify participants if they are or are not on the program?

Each participant should have provided an e-mail address with their proposal. Please email every individual from whom you received a proposal to inform them of their acceptance or rejection by April 1. If you use PAPERS this will be automated for you. Be sure to indicate how and when you should be contacted to confirm their acceptance.

How do I submit a participant's abstract?

Participants are responsible for providing an electronic version of their abstract to the program unit. Only electronic versions of abstracts will be accepted via PAPERS. You will need to “cut and paste” those abstracts, which came in with e-mail proposals, into the PAPERS. Roundtable sessions should have only a single abstract for the entire session, rather than abstracts for each panelist. Roundtable abstracts must be submitted with the other information for the session in PAPERS.

How do I schedule sessions?

One PAPERS submission must be filled out for each session, and each session should have only one PAPERS submission even if you are dividing up the session thematically. If you plan to offer a session with two themes, please notify the Annual Meeting Team in advance for further instructions. Indicate any special needs your unit may have per each session on the PAPERS submission form including any requests for scheduling.

Units may request a specific order for their sessions by numbering them. The executive office will do everything possible to maintain this order when scheduling, but it is not always possible to accommodate scheduling requests. For your business meeting, please indicate whether is it more important that your business meeting be kept with the time slot you have selected or the session theme with which you have associated it.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to avoid all thematic conflicts in scheduling. With only fourteen session slots in which to schedule, there are at least 30 concurrent sessions at any one time. With that in mind, please note only one or two specific conflicts that are most important to be avoided (i.e. Buddhism’s session on "Buddhism in Japan" rather than "anything about Buddhism").

It is important to estimate your attendance as accurately as possible and to choose a seating style. This information is used to place sessions in rooms of appropriate size and layout. While every effort will be made to honor your requests, time and space constraints may well prevent us from satisfying every request.

Further questions or comments?

All correspondence regarding the Annual Meeting should be mailed to:

Robert Puckett
Chief Scholarly Engagement Officer
American Academy of Religion
825 Houston Mill RD STE 300
Atlanta, GA 30329-4205

You may send special requests via e-mail to Please make sure that you have submitted everything the executive office needs to schedule your sessions properly.