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From the Public Affairs & Engagement Committee (PAEC) at AAAL 2018: Moving Towards Social Change

Wednesday, April 25, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Netta Avineri, Chair PAEC Charge and Approach
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The Public Affairs & Engagement Committee (PAEC) is a AAAL standing 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 can be accomplished 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 provides a set of interdisciplinary applied linguistics perspectives on issues of public concern.  We take 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 see ourselves as a resource for consultation and facilitation as AAAL members conceptualize which issues to address, why, and how.

PAEC Members:

Please, click on each of the names below to learn more about our committee members:

Netta Avineri Joel Gomez Meg Malone Tim McNamara Adam Schwartz

 *Kathleen Bailey served in the AAAL Past President role from March 2017 – March 2018. *

Accomplishments & Next Steps

This past year, the PAEC facilitated the position statement Commitment to International Diversity & Exchange of Ideas as well as its endorsement of the TESOL Statement on Immigration Policy & Reform.  At AAAL 2018, the PAEC held its second annual open meeting, with approximately 25 participants.  After introductions at the meeting, we provided participants with an overview of the PAEC, position statement processes, and past accomplishments.  Small groups discussed issues of interest, and then shared out with the larger group to explore possible outreach activities, initiatives, and projects.  We discussed what AAAL as an organization can do as well, highlighting that individuals can engage in relevant research and consider issues that are pertinent within their local contexts.  The group highlighted the importance of exploring connections between research and practice for diverse audiences (e.g., policymakers, educators, voters, general educators, global language educators, media, parents, and students).  We collectively considered a range of genres and modalities (e.g., “Applied Linguistics Briefs”, position statements, endorsements, op-eds, blog posts, social media, webinars).  Many emphasized the importance of multiple languages (including translation & interpretation) to communicate about applied linguistics issues.  And possible topics that were highlighted included the importance of learning languages, globalization & interconnected world, superdiversity, translanguaging, language attitudes and ideologies (e.g., Spanish), communication access and equity in health care contexts.  The AAAL member survey highlighted many of these approaches and issues as relevant to the organization’s membership as well, including networking with non-academic professionals (e.g., government and industry professionals) who studied Applied Linguistics and/or related fields, the development of resources that members can use to promote Applied Linguistics within the university and the public, and commentary/information on issues/topics/events related to applied linguistics (e.g., blogs, podcasts, tweets).

At AAAL 2018, PAEC Chair Netta Avineri served as the Moderator for the AAAL Professional Development Session “Public Advocacy and Media Engagement: Voices from the Field”, which provided a range of perspectives on applied linguistics public advocacy and media engagement around relevant issues, policies, institutions, and systems.  The session drew upon the experience of panelists Liz Lanza, Meg Malone, Aneta Pavlenko, Jonathan Rosa, and Paula Winke, who have collaborated on public advocacy and media engagement in multiple contexts.  They shared their own experiences and practical guidance, followed by opportunities for audience questions and discussion.  The session provided applied linguists with actionable tools for influence and social change.

At TESOL 2018, Netta presented a Colleague Association Session “AAAL Public Affairs and Engagement Initiative: Collaborating for Social Justice” designed to foster partnerships across TESOL and AAAL.  The engaged participants raised a number of topics of interest at this session, including advocating for higher education ESL programs, university-level visa issues, provides services to emergent bilingual students, combatting the “language gap” discourse, and resources for undocumented students.  We also discussed possible approaches to advocacy with diverse individuals across contexts.  This session is part of a broader PAEC effort to partner with individuals representing a number of “kindred” professional organizations (e.g., AAA, ACTFL, AERA, CAL, JNCL) moving forward.

How to Get Involved

We encourage AAAL members to join the Applied Linguistics & Social Justice listserv (150 members strong), an online collaborative space for sharing ideas, resources, publications, and initiatives focused on applied linguistics and social justice.

AAAL members can also get in touch with ideas for projects and initiatives of social concern. Please feel free to contact Netta Avineri ( with your ideas!

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