Call for Papers and Panels –
“Connection and Community: Leadership in an Age of Alienation and Isolation”
Academy of Religious Leadership Annual Meeting – Minneapolis, MN, April 28-30, 2022
Before our world had a coronavirus pandemic, we had a loneliness epidemic—a deep-seated, pervasive sense of alienation and isolation with, at times, deadly consequences. Some have satisfied their need for belonging and meaning by joining hate groups. Others have been overwhelmed by loneliness and despair. In some demographic categories, deaths of despair—the public health term for deaths by suicide, drug overdose, and alcoholism—have doubled within the last 15 years.
The coronavirus pandemic only exacerbated the isolation and alienation that many experience.
Yet human beings have a fundamental need to belong, to feel connected with others in families, in social relationships, and in community. Belonging and connection, in turn, drive meaning and purpose. Faith communities and other voluntary organizations traditionally have been places where connection and community have been nurtured, helping people make meaning of their lives, together. Yet over the past few decades faith communities and other community-based organizations have become less central to public life in a society that increasingly values individualism over the common good.
Fundamentally, religion is about belonging, connection, and meaning, bringing people together in community to explore and celebrate the sacred. Facilitating such connection and community is at the core of the religious leader’s work, whether in the academy, the faith community, or the community at large. The 2022 Annual Meeting of the Academy of Religious Leadership invites presentations from religious leaders and scholars with experience or interest in establishing and nurturing community and connection that foster belonging and meaning making. We welcome solo and multi-author papers, or panel presentations that address the following possibilities:
- What theological, political, or social-scientific considerations are driving the current climate of alienation and isolation? What theoretical or theological frameworks for meaning making and community building address these conditions?
- What leadership models, theories, methods, and strategies addressing the particular issues of alienation and isolation present in society today are useful for building connection and community?
- Tell the story of a particular community or neighborhood that has successfully addressed issues of isolation and alienation, and the role that religious leaders played in establishing connections and building community. How might that particular experience be shared or applied more widely?
Presentation Proposals should include:
- Working Title
- 300 word abstract that describes the context, argument, and primary conversation partners for the presentation (such as: analytical, theoretical, theological, or political framings for the presentation)
- A description of the media used for the presentation
- Short bio of the author(s)
- Paper/Panel Proposals are due November 1, 2021. Please send proposals to ARL President Sandy Selby at firstname.lastname@example.org