homeprev issuesexecpublic affairsSTAFFASA home
The Executive Officer’s Column

Professional Service: Take Up a Task

The Association is now one year into its effort to create task forces around important issues with focused purpose and an agenda of work. The first five task forces were seated before the Annual Meeting last year. Two more task forces (one on Journal Diversity and the other on a Reexamination of the Committee on Committees and the Committee on Nominations, see page 3) were established during the course of this past winter and spring and are getting underway. And, two additional task forces are now in formation and should be launched in early Fall (see below).

The task forces presented on these two pages, added to those five already ongoing, underscore the potential value of this approach. Task Forces are being created on work that the discipline and the Association need done; they draw from across the membership, they have concrete goals and timetables, and, as importantly, they come into being through different paths and for diverse purposes. We ask that you take seriously the call for nominations, including self-nominations, for the two new task-forces-in-formation. We want to continue the pattern begun last year of seating Task Forces primarily from the pool of persons expressing strong interests and expertise and volunteering their time. In order to be inclusive, ASA needs you, our “sociological eyes and ears,” to recommend solid names for service and also to signal an interest in getting involved.

The two new task forces deal with very different issues. One will focus on the Advanced Placement Exam and will examine what needs to be done to reach earlier into the pipeline to attract quality students to the field. The other seeks a wide-representation of members to help craft an ASA statement on race. The first idea came from Bob Greene, a Wisconsin high school teacher of sociology, who has worked on K-12 issues with ASA. The other idea emanated from a group of members at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (Judith Blau, Sherryl Kleinman, and Charles Kurzman) who thought that the resurgence of “scientific racism” made this a propitious time for the Association to speak.

With the ASA Annual Meeting fast upon us, we will have many occasions to think ahead. As you meet with other sociologists in small groups, in sections, and in sessions, know that some of your areas of aspiration and concern can be productively channeled into task force ideas. The September/October issue of Footnotes will encourage task force proposals to be reviewed by Council in January and seated later in 2001. Please respond to the call for task force proposals. In introducing this system, Council wanted to pursue an array of activities that would have maximum member input and get things done. Accomplishing that goal is no small task, but the discipline and Association would be well served by your taking it up.—Felice J. Levine

Nominations Sought By Council for Two New Task Forces
Submit Nominations by August 1, 2000

Council is establishing two additional task forces to begin their work in Fall 2000. Nominations are sought from ASA members (including self nominations) for service on these task forces. Interested persons should submit a brief biographical sketch and statement of interest. One single-spaced page is sufficient. Nominations should be sent by e-mail ( or fax (202-638-0882) to the Executive Office, c/o Governance. Council will review nominations and seat these task forces at the ASA Annual Meeting in August.

Task Force on the Advanced Placement Course in Sociology for High Schools
The purpose of this Task Force is to develop an advanced placement course in sociology for high school students. The role of the Task Force is to create the framework and syllabus for such a course, specify appropriate resources for teachers and students, hold a professional development workshop for teachers interested in field testing, provide technical support for a field test, and report to Council on a model course and attendant issues regarding its use in the high school curriculum. The Task Force is also charged with reporting to Council on issues involved in creating an advanced placement test in sociology and what steps Council should take, if any, to further the development of this test. The Task Force will consist of eight (8) members with backgrounds and expertise in secondary education and science education, undergraduate curriculum development in sociology, assessment, and testing. The Task Force will be expected to prepare a report to Council by August 2002.

Task Force on an ASA Statement on Race
The purpose of this Task Force is to craft an ASA statement on race that reflects and draws upon sociological knowledge and expertise. The role of this Task Force is to draft such a statement for Council’s review and action and to accompany it with a brief report that makes clear to Council the substantive underpinnings of such a statement. In undertaking this work, the Task Force will consider the statements of other scientific societies, in particular the American Anthropological Association, yet will prepare a statement that derives from sociological expertise about race and racial classification. The Task Force will consist of nine (9) persons with backgrounds and expertise in race, racism, racial categories, social inequality, stratification, and racial disparities. The Task Force will be expected to prepare such a statement and accompanying report by the August 2001 meeting of the ASA Council.