Georgetown professor John Esposito was recently elected vice president of the American Academy of Religion, Georgetown announced on Oct. 20.
Esposito, a professor of religion and international affairs and of Islamic Studies in the School of Foreign Service and founding director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, will serve as an officer in the organization for three years, first as vice president in 2011, president-elect in 2012 and president in 2013.
Esposito said he was very pleased to receive the reward.
“[The AAR] is one of the major associations I’m involved with, and this is kind of like a capstone experience,” Esposito said.
During his three-year tenure on the leadership board of the AAR, Esposito will be able to influence policy and tone at the organization by making appointments to the various committees and by holding a position on the board of directors.
“[The AAR] is a very dynamic group, and we are all going to continue to make it so,” Esposito said.
Esposito stressed, both in an interview with The Hoya and in his official statement as a candidate for vice president, that the implications of religious study have become more important for citizens and the public forum in general.
“We have an increasingly important opportunity to share our scholarship and experience with policymakers and citizens, to foster a better understanding of current events, and enable more informed decisions at this critical time in our history,” Esposito said in his statement to AAR voters.
Esposito stressed that this focus on religious study and dialogue has fostered better relations across varying religious and cultural traditions, and he believes this is a trend that is only going to continue.
“I think that kind of bridge will continue to be built even more as religion continues to be a prominent issue,” he said.
The AAR was founded in 1909 by a professor at Syracuse University and has grown to roughly 11,000 members, most of whom are scholars and university faculty throughout North America.
The AAR’s mission statement says there is a critical need for ongoing reflection of religious values.
“The American Academy of Religion’s mission is to promote such reflection through excellence in scholarship and teaching in the field of religion,” according to the AAR website.