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News & Press: AAALetter

Graduate Student Council Being Established!

Monday, June 22, 2015  
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Last month, a new AAAL Graduate Student Council (GSC) was established when the membership approved a change to the association’s bylaws. The new GSC now becomes a standing part of the organization, replacing the Ad Hoc Graduate Student Committee, which was founded in 2013. The GSC will continue to work closely with the Executive Committee, and our new status will allow us to set more long-term goals related to the professional needs expressed by AAAL graduate student members.

The GSC Steering Committee: (left to right) Elena Shvidko, Daniel Ginsberg (co-chair), Nicole Pettitt (co-chair), Abram Jones (secretary). Not pictured: Emily Hellmich









In line with what we’ve heard from you, our graduate student constituency, the top priority for the 2015-16 academic year is to create more service and leadership opportunities for grad students within AAAL. We will continue to offer multiple professionalization workshops at the 2016 conference, and to connect with you through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and our blog — but this year, we are also using these projects as a way to invite more members to work with the GSC and gain valuable professional leadership experience. A survey recently went out for graduate student members who, at the 2015 annual conference, expressed an interest in volunteering during the upcoming year. As we have capacity, we’ll be inviting respondents to join new committees for conference planning and communications.

Service opportunities will also be available on new projects. Thanks to the efforts of 2016 conference chair, Kathi Bailey, and previous Executive Committee leaders, a few student volunteers will have the opportunity to interview the plenary speakers and the DSSA winner at the 2016 conference, which will provide not only a lasting record of the conference itself, but also a unique opportunity for students to get to know senior scholars in the field. The GSC will also connect the Executive Committee to graduate students so that our voice can be represented in Executive Committee initiatives, continuing work that we have begun by participating on task forces on pre-conference workshops and online communities.

To support this expanded role, the GSC is also beginning a strategic planning process in order to articulate a list of program priorities and a vision for graduate student engagement in AAAL. We mean for this process to help us create an institutional identity for the GSC, which will drive our work within AAAL, and thereby support AAAL’s commitment to the future of the discipline.

All of these opportunities have been made possible through the untiring work of many AAAL leaders. We’d like to acknowledge Sara Kangas and Matt Jadlocki, the former co-chairs of the Ad Hoc Grad Student Committee, for their untiring work toward establishing permanent graduate student leadership within AAAL. Of course, the support and vision of the Executive Committee was vital in establishing graduate student leadership at the outset, as well as during the by-laws process; for this we are especially indebted to Aneta Pavlenko and Joan Kelly Hall. Additionally, we’d like to thank Lucy Pickering, who plays a pivotal role as the liaison between the GSC and Executive Committee, and Sarah Berke, our association manager, for her valuable insights and her efforts on our behalf.

Finally, we’d like to thank the entire AAAL membership for voting to establish a permanent graduate student leadership presence within AAAL -- and to the current AAAL leadership, especially Paul Kei Matsuda and Kathi Bailey, for welcoming the GSC so warmly. We’re looking forward to some exciting work together!

As always, we would love to hear from you, the graduate student membership. Any questions or comments that you have about the GSC, serving on the GSC, or the work we do are welcome. You can email us at or send us a private message on our Facebook page:

— Daniel Ginsberg, Georgetown University
— Nicole Pettitt, Georgia State University

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