President’s Column

Paolisso.jpgAugust 2021
Michael Paolisso

SfAA members are a social group. We place a high value on meeting with friends, colleagues, and others who share our interest in applying the social sciences to address global challenges. For many SfAA colleagues, attending our annual meetings is one of the most important benefits and experiences of their membership. That we have not been able to meet in person for the last two years has been personally and professionally disruptive. It has also been financially taxing to the SfAA. The annual meeting is SfAA’s major source of revenue—we depend on successful annual meetings to sustain our operations and help meet our members’ needs throughout the year. 

SfAA has adapted to these profoundly challenging times when we could not meet in person. We held a successful 2021 annual meeting completely online, and we now have the capacity to host online town halls and webinars on a regular basis, which expands our ability to engage new and diverse audiences. SfAA leadership, office staff, and members who volunteer to serve on the meeting working group and the annual meeting program committee have been focused on development of  new formats and practices to improve the usefulness of annual and online meetings for our members. An exciting example comes from SfAA Global, a working group that focuses on outreach to our international colleagues. On September 23rd, they will host a well-timed online roundtable titled “Interfaces of Global Applied Anthropology: COVID Disparities and Their Discontents.”

Our experiences over the last 18 months have given us the tools to plan a compelling and innovative  82nd annual meeting. We will meet in Salt Lake City, Utah, March 22-26, 2022. James H. McDonald, the meeting’s program chair, has developed a highly relevant and timely meeting theme, which asks us to reflect on and practice varied roles in research, application, and activism to build bold and transformative ideas and methods. As we do so, we increase the potential of anthropology and the applied social sciences to revolutionize our work as we confront multiple current crises. Jim, supported by Don Stull, the SfAA annual meeting and awards coordinator, is hard at work building out the meeting, including engaging meeting co-sponsors and developing local engagement. More on emerging local developments, sites, and recreational activities in the region can be found in Jim’s column in this newsletter. Please check out the meeting website for more information on the theme, program committee, and co-sponsors. 

It is not too early to begin booking your hotel rooms. The Sheraton Salt Lake City Hotel will serve as the meeting site and has excellent room rates. By staying at the conference hotel, you help the SfAA meet its contractual obligation to the hotel, and that helps our society regain its financial footing while achieving essential financial goals of the meeting. 

We are committed to hosting a safe meeting and sharing information that helps members make informed decisions. As part of Marriott International's family of brands, the Sheraton Salt Lake City Hotel has implemented new protocols and elevated practices in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Updated information on COVID-19 and vaccination rates for Utah can be found at Utah follows restrictions based on a transmission index with guidelines by county. Salt Lake county is currently at the lowest level.

We know that some members will not be able to travel to Salt Lake City for next year’s annual meeting. We will miss you, but you need not be completely absent. Drawing again on our 2021 annual meeting experience, we will offer an online component to the Salt Lake City meeting. If you attend remotely, you will have access to prerecorded sessions, selected on-site live-streaming sessions, synchronous and asynchronous opportunities for virtual engagement and networking, and a digital content library.  All of this will be accessible through Whova, our meeting platform. Online content will also be available to onsite participants.  

I hope to see you in Salt Lake City next March. It will be good to see each other again and to spend time in sessions and catching up, sharing the experiences of the past two years and discussing our future directions. I also look forward to seeing many of you online during and after the meeting. SfAA is committed to expanding our outreach and engagement through online activities, all part of an effort to expand our reach globally and to communities who have been underrepresented in the SfAA. Collectively, onsite and online, we have much work to do, and I am confident that SfAA members will continue to work together to make the applied social sciences increasingly relevant and impactful. 

©Society for Applied Anthropology 

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