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Prof. Hilton Kelly Elected VP of American Educational Studies Association

Hilton Kelly
Hilton Kelly

Associate Professor and Chair of Educational Studies Hilton Kelly has been elected vice president of the American Educational Studies Association (AESA). The role is a three-year commitment–Kelly will spend the second year as president-elect and the third year as president.

"I'm both surprised and honored," said Kelly. "In this new position I aim to shape educational change on a national level. The membership consists of some of the best scholars writing and thinking about education in the nation. We have to think about how best to disseminate what we know to larger publics in the 21st century."

According to the AESA website, the role of AESA is to provide a cross-disciplinary forum wherein scholars gather to exchange and debate ideas generated from areas in education that utilize the liberal arts. Members are dedicated to examining issues in education from a plurality of academic viewpoints and perspectives.

Kelly said, "I like that it's an organization of people committed to social justice-oriented scholarship in education across the disciplines of history, philosophy, sociology, anthropology, as well as the cultural and social foundations of education."

Kelly joined the AESA in 2001 as a graduate student studying sociology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He first discovered the organization through its journal, Educational Studies, and decided to attend their annual conference.

Newly minted Ph.D.'s soon became his mentors. He has since presented at the conference each year and held positions as the graduate student coordinator and executive council committee member.

"In my three-year role on the executive council, I got to know the ins and outs of the organization, including their political stances, and participated in updating the by-laws," he said.

In addition, Kelly has published in the Educational Studies journal, served as a manuscript reviewer and completed two terms on its editorial board.

As vice president, Kelly will do the behind-the-scenes work that goes into planning the organization's annual conferences. Some of his duties will include forming committees for the lecture series and shadowing the current president-elect. Currently, he is working with the organization's leadership to determine whether AESA will have a conference next year due to a labor dispute between the contracted conference hotel and its workers.

"I want to figure out how we can have more of a national voice," he said. "We, as an organization of critical scholars in education, are always challenging the reasoning of the status quo in educational policies and practices in the United States and abroad. If we can get a seat at the table and get folks with power to talk about our ideas, we could shift the conversation in education in radical ways."

When Kelly becomes president-elect next year, Davidson students will have the opportunity to help him plan the conference program–roles usually reserved for graduate students.

"I have taken students to the conference so that they can see the work grad students and faculty are doing within the broad and transdisciplinary field of educational studies," said Kelly. "The two times that a group of Davidson College students have presented at the conference, audience members were shocked that they were undergrads."

He added, "It's important for students to look behind the academic curtain and to watch the people that they read in my classes grapple with complicated ideas in a conference format. I'm excited about the opportunity to lead the American Educational Studies Association and hope that his new role will benefit Davidson students and the Educational Studies department in meaningful ways."