I just received the following email from Kent Richards of the SBL:
We are pleased to announce that on June 10, 2010, the Society of Biblical Literature and American Academy of Religion signed a Letter of Intent that outlines an agreement to hold concurrent Annual Meetings beginning in San Francisco in the fall of 2011. These meetings will
- Occur in the same city—though the venue will change from year to year;
- Occur at the same time—the weekend before the US Thanksgiving holiday;
- Feature a single, jointly managed Publishers/Software/Book Exhibit;
- Feature a single, jointly managed Employment Center;
- Feature distinct and separate AAR and SBL programs planned with open communication between the organizations;
- Encourage the organizations’ members to attend each other’s programs and events at no additional cost;
- Allow the organizations to pursue their unique, if sometimes overlapping, missions;
- Enhance cooperation, not competition, between the organizations.
The advertising for these conventions will use the city name, the year, and will identify the SBL and AAR as hosts. For example, the first of these meetings will be known as “Annual Meetings 2011 San Francisco, hosted by the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature.” This name will appear on the registration gateway, on signage at the meetings, on promotional materials, and on other common elements.
A Conventions Management Committee, consisting of the Executive Directors and staff members from each organization, is developing operating policies and procedures that expand on the considerable detail that already exists in the Letter of Intent. Each year the Committee will review the most recent meetings with an eye toward making improvements in subsequent gatherings. Nine concurrent meetings are being planned for 2011 through 2019. Beginning in 2013 the organizations will begin operating on a seven-year planning horizon that includes a mechanism by which the organizations can, on an annual basis, extend the seven-year agreement for an additional year. Dates and venues of the first three concurrent Annual Meetings are as follows:
- November 19-22, 2011 San Francisco
- November 17-20, 2012 Chicago
- November 23-26, 2013 Baltimore
We believe that concurrent meetings will serve the interests of our members, will help to advance the many disciplines and areas of study we represent, and will maintain and advance the critical inquiry that characterizes the work of our societies. We invite you to join us in building this exciting new future.
This is very fine news in my view; I lament the divide between our two disciplines (Bible and theology, to be terribly reductionist), and while I don’t believe this will change the way either practices its craft, it will be of great value for us to be able to attend one another’s sessions and maybe, just maybe, talk to one another.