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News & Press: AAALetter

From the New Public Affairs & Engagement Committee (PAEC)

Thursday, April 27, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Netta Avineri, Committee Chair
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Visions and Prospects

The Public Affairs & Engagement Committee (PAEC) is a new committee that was formed in December 2016 that provides “an important means by which AAAL members can bring their collective expertise to bear on issues of social importance and inform public debate by speaking to issues of social and professional relevance” (AAAL Standing Rules). The PAEC is charged with engaging AAAL in the public domain. This is done by preparing and proposing position statements, processing Position Statements submitted by the general membership, recommending for endorsement position statements/resolutions issued by other organizations, organizing an annual public affairs event, and other outreach activities (e.g., interviews, op-ed pieces, blog posts, social media outreach, other means of communicating with the public) (AAAL Standing Rules). The PAEC plans to provide a set of interdisciplinary applied linguistics perspectives on issues of public concern. We envision a collaborative approach to initiatives moving forward, seeking to facilitate projects that are critical to AAAL members and tackle relevant social issues of the day. We also hope to be a resource for consultation as AAAL members conceptualize which issues to address, why, and how.

The PAEC Members are:

Netta Avineri (Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, PAEC Committee Chair)
Kathleen Bailey (Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, ex officio, AAAL Past President)
Meg Malone (ACTFL, Georgetown University, ex officio, JNCL-NCLIS liaison)
Adam Schwartz (Oregon State University)
Terrence Wiley (CAL, ex officio, CAL President)
**Paul Kei Matsuda served in the AAAL Past President role from December 2016 – March 2017. **

At AAAL 2017, the PAEC held its first open meeting, with 50 participants. We first shared the PAEC purpose with all the attendees. Position statement processes as well as issues of position statement genre, audience, and purpose were discussed. The meeting was then opened up to provide a forum in which the participants could offer and discuss their ideas for possible outreach activities, initiatives, and projects. There was consideration of both outward engagement (e.g., with media, community members, public officials) as well inward engagement (among AAAL members and applied linguists themselves). Relationships with other organizations (e.g., AAA, ACTFL, CAL, LSJ) were raised as critical to the PAEC’s collaborative approach moving forward, including endorsements of those organizations’ public statements. We also discussed the importance of both proactive initiatives (e.g., statements about language learning, language development, immigration, diversity) and responsive initiatives (e.g., statements about executive orders, world events). Specific possible actions included press releases, media engagement, workshops, teaching resources, lobbying, and conference sessions), as well as disseminating actions from JNCL to AAAL’s U.S.-based members.

One specific example of an initiative that has already moved forward is a position statement generated by 10 AAAL members about the January 27 Executive Order/travel ban. The statement was approved by the PAEC and AAAL Executive Committee, was available for AAAL member commentary that was reviewed by the PAEC, and was available for AAAL member vote until April 27. In the future, it is hoped that position statements will be generated on other relevant issues that applied linguists have unique perspectives to contribute, in addition to AAAL endorsing statements created by other professional organizations.

We encourage AAAL members to join the AAAL & Social Justice Listserv, an online collaborative space for sharing ideas, resources, publication, and initiatives focused on applied linguistics and social justice.

We also hope that AAAL members will get in touch with ideas for projects and initiatives of social concern. Feel free to contact Netta Avineri ( We look forward to hearing from you!

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