Mercer to host American Academy of Religion Southeast Region Annual Meeting

Atlanta Jesse Mercer statue

ATLANTA — Mercer University is the host institution for this year’s American Academy of Religion (AAR) Southeast Region Annual Meeting on March 10-12 on the Atlanta campus. The AAR is the leading professional organization promoting scholarship in the study of religion, with over 5,000 members worldwide.

The Southeast Region is one of the national organization’s largest and most active regions. Mercer College of Professional Advancement faculty Dr. Hollis Phelps, associate professor of interdisciplinary studies, and Dr. Wesley Barker, associate professor of religious studies, are co-directing this year’s meeting. Dr. Phelps currently serves as president of the AAR Southeast Region and will provide the presidential address.

“Dr. Phelps and I are excited that Mercer was selected to host the AAR Southeast Region’s first face-to-face meeting in three years,” Dr. Barker said. “The regional meeting has always been a great opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students to gain experience presenting their ideas to a scholarly audience. We have designed this year’s program to highlight the strength and diversity of studies in religion, theology and biblical literature at Mercer and other Atlanta-area institutions.”

The theme of this year’s meeting is “Migrations” and features a keynote address from Dr. Nicole Symmonds, Louisville Institute Postdoctoral Scholar and visiting professor of Christian ethics at Mercer’s McAfee School of Theology. With over 100 different paper presentations, the meeting will draw about 200 scholars and students from institutions across the Southeast. This year’s meeting also features a symposium on pedagogy with innovative teacher-scholars representing a variety of fields, including Mercer’s own Islamic studies scholar Dr. Shehnaz Haqqani, assistant professor of religion in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Led by Associate Professor of Religion Dr. Janell Johnson, religion department students will present during a special panel on March 11. View the complete program at

“I am excited that Mercer was chosen to host this prestigious conference and grateful to Dr. Phelps and Dr. Barker for their leadership in planning the event and encouraging the involvement of Mercer’s faculty and students,” said Dr. Priscilla Danheiser, dean of the College of Professional Advancement.

Registration is free for Mercer faculty, students and staff. For more information on registration, contact Dr. Barker at

About Mercer University 

Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. With approximately 9,000 students enrolled in 12 schools and colleges, on major campuses in Macon and Atlanta; medical school sites in Macon, Savannah and Columbus; and at regional academic centers in Henry and Douglas counties, Mercer is ranked among the top tier of national research universities by U.S. News & World Report. The Mercer Health Sciences Center includes the University’s School of Medicine and Colleges of Nursing, Health Professions and Pharmacy. Mercer is affiliated with five teaching hospitals – Atrium Health Navicent The Medical Center and Piedmont Macon Medical Center in Macon; Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah; and Piedmont Columbus Regional Hospital and St. Francis-Emory Healthcare in Columbus. The University also has an educational partnership with Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins. It operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon, an engineering research center in Warner Robins, and Mercer Medicine clinics in Sumter, Peach, Clay and Putnam counties. Mercer is one of only 293 institutions nationwide to shelter a chapter of The Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation’s most prestigious academic honor society; one of eight institutions to hold membership in the Georgia Research Alliance; and the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit