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Guidelines for Creating New Divisions or Modifying Existing Divisions

February 7, 2018

Guidelines for Creating New Conference Divisions

1) Member(s) interested in creating a new AJS division are encouraged to determine the level of support/interest among the broader membership in the proposed thematic area. Exploratory initiatives could include: organizing conference sessions under the wildcard framework, working with already existing division chairs to develop sub-division sessions dedicated to the proposed division, hosting conference gatherings with members interested in the proposed division topic, and/or a creating a letter of support signed by AJS members potentially interested in participating in the proposed division.

2) After successfully demonstrating sustainable interest and significant support among AJS members for the proposed division, the new division organizer(s) should submit a proposal to the VP Programming that outlines the rationale for the request to create a new division, demonstrates the broad appeal of the new division based on exploratory initiatives or other relevant data, and explains how the new division fits more broadly into the field of Jewish Studies.

3) The AJS executive board, with input from the programming committee and division chairs, will review the proposal to determine whether to grant the proposed division a pilot year division opportunity.

4) A division pilot year provides the opportunity for the proposed new division organizers to demonstrate the potential reach of the division and to provide the broader AJS membership with the chance to learn more about the proposed future division. During the pilot year, the VP programming will appoint a pilot division chair and include the division in the call for papers. (A maximum of one pilot division will be considered for each yearly conference.)

5) Following the conference pilot, there will be a public comment period to allow the AJS membership to share any feedback about the pilot division.

6) After the pilot conference, the pilot division chair should submit an updated proposal to the VP Programming for the creation of a permanent division. The proposal pilot addendum should provide additional supporting material based on the pilot year panels and other relevant additional information.

7) The full AJS board, with additional input from the programming committee, division chairs, and public comments, will review the pilot year data and determine whether to grant the proposed division full divisional status. Proposed divisions that are not granted permanent status after the first pilot year, can renew their pilot status for a second year and reapply for permanent status.

Guidelines for Division Modifications

The AJS encourages division chairs to continuously evaluate their division’s goals and effectiveness in meeting the needs of division members and in responding to broader changes in the academic landscape. Division chairs, with the support of their division members, can propose changes to their division (such as name change, merger with another division, or division elimination) to meet the needs of their members and the broader AJS scholarly community. The process for considering such changes is as follows.

1) Division Chair(s) considering a modification to their division should open a robust discussion within their divisional programming at the annual conference to discuss the proposed changes. Informed discussion about the proposed changes will create the opportunity for scholars to consider how the study of a particular topic or theme has changed and how these changes pertain to Jewish studies scholarship more broadly. Public conversations should make space for the broader AJS membership to consider the rationale for any changes and to provide division chairs with feedback.

2) Division chairs interested in making any modifications are also encouraged to discuss any potential changes with other division chairs (especially those in related areas,) initiate a vote of members regularly participating in the division, and/or solicit broad feedback from relevant stakeholders.

3) If the division chair(s) decides that there is broad support for the proposed modification based on steps 1 and 2 above, the division should submit a formal proposal to VP Programming that explains the rationale for any modification as well as demonstrates support for the requested modifications.

4) VP Programming will provide an opportunity for the AJS membership to offer any feedback on the proposed modification during a brief comment period.

5) The full AJS board, with additional input from the programming committee, division chairs, and member feedback, will review the proposal and determine whether to ratify the requested division modification.