OAH Strategic Planning Committee sends up a red flare (and asks for members' response)





We are in the midst of a tectonic shift in our culture, driven by the cumulative impact of powerful economic, technological, and social forces. As a consequence, the Organization of American Historians (OAH) faces two major challenges. The first is primarily economic, driven by the current world financial crisis and reflected in sharply declining revenues for the organization. The second, simultaneously technological, economic, and demographic, is rooted in changes underway well before the onset of the current economic crisis and will almost certainly continue and accelerate in the years ahead. Warning signs include an increasingly diverse, even fragmented profession; a stable membership that is aging and an unstable membership among younger historians, precollegiate teachers, and students; declining institutional subscriptions for the Journal of American History (JAH) [link], coupled with increasing expectations for open access to publications via the World Wide Web; and an underdeveloped Web presence that restricts the organization’s authority and reach. Even if the OAH surmounts the difficulties produced by the first of these crises, it faces the long term challenges posed by the latter. Even as it must maintain its commitment to scholarly excellence, the OAH, like all scholarly societies, can no longer operate according to a model that primarily serves members and raises revenue by producing a print journal and holding an annual meeting.

This then is the broad context within which this Strategic Plan has been developed. The plan sets forth an ambitious agenda for the OAH for the next five years, one that aims to address contemporary challenges and move the organization in new directions. In doing so, it builds upon the organization’s historic commitment to excellence, its achievements during the past several years, and the successes of the previous strategic plan, adopted by the OAH in 2003 [link]. The plan articulates strong support for the organization’s core mission and programs, including the JAH and the annual meeting, and for its growing commitment to history teaching at all levels. It also seeks to move the organization to respond more fully to the challenges and opportunities afforded by new technologies; and more actively to advocate for its mission and communicate its accomplishments both to members and the broader intellectual community. ...


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