The American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS) elected four Georgetown University faculty members April 19 to join its ranks as members of the 2023 class.
The four inductees are Marcia Chatelain, a history professor; Carolyn Forché, an English professor; Anita Gonzalez, a professor of performing arts and African American studies; and Maria Cancian, dean of the McCourt School of Public Policy. They will join 265 other newly elected members of the academy, a prestigious society started in 1780 by Declaration of Independence signatories John Adams and John Hancock that aims to convene academic leaders and advance the common good.
Chatelain, a scholar of African American life and culture, said that in a modern age of digital disinformation, institutions like the Academy are key in disseminating the truth.
“I think that the Academy is an excellent opportunity to join like-minded people who are most concerned about the ongoing attack on facts and on research and the importance of exploring ideas,” Chatelain told The Hoya. “I think that as an organization, I’ve been very impressed by the ways that they’ve really focused on the importance of fighting misinformation and disinformation, both in the sciences as well as the humanities.”
Chatelain has authored extensive research on twentieth-century African American life, including civil rights and Black food culture. Chatelain said she hopes joining the Academy will enable her to make such work accessible to a broader audience.
“I’m really excited to see the ways that the membership really focuses on making clear to the broadest and most public audience the importance of academic research and the importance of the work that happens on college campuses,” Chatelain said.
Daedalus, the Academy’s open access journal that features work from its members, is part of an accessibility and outreach effort to share their research and ideas with the general public outside of academia. Georgetown students can access the journal’s content on JSTOR, an online research repository, free of charge.
Cancian researches how public policy impacts family wellbeing. She said she is looking forward to the new connections she will make as a member of the Academy.
“Membership in the Academy offers expanded opportunities to build connections and community with an extraordinary set of scholars and leaders,” Cancian wrote to The Hoya. “I am deeply honored and humbled to be elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.”
Gonzalez, the performing arts and African American studies professor, studies the intersection of culture and performance. Gonzalez said the Academy is a diverse institution that seeks to bring an array of perspectives across different disciplines to important issues.
“The AAAS community engages in analysis of some of the most strategically important issues nationally and globally,” Gonzalez wrote to The Hoya. “I deeply appreciate that the community includes a spectrum of political perspectives and seeks innovative solutions to pressing problems.”
Gonzalez has published works on how dance, theater and performance can influence political discourse. Gonzalez said the study of art offers key perspectives to policy-oriented issues.
“It’s important that the arts have a voice in policy making because they represent the humanity and cultures of so many diverse peoples,” Gonzalez wrote.
Chatelain said that through the professors’ membership in the AAAS, a larger audience will be able to understand the greater societal purpose of their research.
“I think it’s important for people to understand that a lot of the research that we undertake is not just for our own benefit or the benefit of our students or our campuses, but it’s really research that can be used for the common good,” Chatelain said.
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