Letter from the Co-Editors

Dear fellow graduate students, 


Welcome to the Spring 2021 issue of the AAALGrads newsletter! As excited as we are to bring you this issue, we release it in full acknowledgment that the past 13 months have been a highly unusual and exhausting time for most, if not all, of us. 


The ongoing pandemic has been a major disruptor which has created all kinds of ambiguity and uncertainty for the academic community. From graduate students specifically, we have heard about major challenges and trauma like disrupted research plans, lost funding, lack of childcare, unclear visa regulations, a collapsing job market, mental health problems, or, even worse, sickness or death. Throughout 2020, we also witnessed racial tensions and protests in response to the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black, Indigenous, and Other People of Color across the United States, as well as a highly divisive presidential race which many believed the country’s future to depend on. Many of these issues persist into 2021. 


In our call for proposals for this issue, we predicted that while we will eventually return to a feeling of normalcy, academia will likely not revert to its old, pre-2020 form. We wrote that the crises and tensions we faced throughout 2020 have drawn new attention to existing problems and faultlines in a neoliberal higher education, manifested, for instance, in an increasingly competitive job market, the growing scarcity of funding, or the ongoing disenfranchisement of minorities in the academic community. Yet, in face of the ambiguity and uncertainty we have experienced, and continue to experience, many of us have had no other option but to bounce back, adapt, and keep going. 


As such, we called upon the members of our community to submit proposals which illustrate not only the resilience of graduate students but which also voice the growing desire for reform and alternative ways of doing, thinking, and being in higher education that the above developments have amplified. Our choice of “Ambiguity, Uncertainty, and Resilience” as a theme was driven by the goal to create a space where members of our community can engage in discussions about new paths for applied linguistics and higher education which can make our professional environments more adaptive and resilient and, consequently, support us in overcoming the hardship of 2020 by embracing a positive outlook into the future of our profession. 


In keeping with this premise, let us give you an overview of the items you will find in the Spring 2021 issue of the AAALGrads newsletter: 


  • Letters: 

    • Letter From the AAAL Presidents: Past AAAL President Kendall King and current President Patsy Duff discuss some of the work AAAL has done in response to the various instances of uncertainty and ambiguity we have faced in the past 13 months.






  • “Readers Respond Forum”:

    • White Ignorance: We received two responses to Nicholas Subtirelu’s Fall 2020 article on white ignorance: “Revisiting Subtirelu’s Article on ‘White Ignorance and the Struggle for an Anti-Racist Applied Linguistics’” by Zakaria Fahmi (University of South Florida) and “Decentering and Unlearning: A Response to ‘White Ignorance and the Struggle for an Anti-Racist Applied Linguistics’” by Di Liang (The Pennsylvania State University). Nicholas Subtirelu engages further with the two responses in “On Becoming Antiracist Racists: Author’s Response.”

    • Diversity StatementIn “Are Diversity Statements Nonperformative? A Critical Discussion,” Ashley Moore (University of British Columbia) engages with Ahmad Alharti’s Fall 2020 article, “How to Write a Diversity Statement,” by discussing the genre through a critical performativity lens. 


  • Acknowledgments and accomplishments: 

    • Brittany Frieson is the 2021 Dissertation Award Winner. We interviewed her about her dissertation, which focuses on the literacy practices of African American Language speakers, her experience as a graduate student, and her plans for the future. 

    • Every year, the GSC calls on graduate students to share their artistic talent in the AAAL design competition. Di Liang (The Pennsylvania State University) and Lynn Zhang (University of Wisconsin-Madison) present and explain their designs in this section. 

    • We have compiled the bios and conference presentation abstracts of our 2021 Graduate Student Award winners



  • Interactive items:

    • Diversity Climate Survey: We invite all graduate students to complete a survey about their diverse backgrounds and their experiences with diversity in the profession. This will help the GSC to improve our operations and to better support our graduate student members. 

    • Readers Respond Forum: To create community and exchange of ideas, readers can respond to articles published in the current issue. You can read more about this format and find the submission form in the “Readers Respond Forum” section. 

    • Call for Proposals for the Fall 2021 Issue of the AAALGrads newsletter: We cordially invite you to contribute to our fall issue, which will be centered on the theme “Looking Forward: A Return to Normal or New Beginnings?”  You can learn more about the rationale, submission formats, and submission guidelines in this section. 


Finally, the co-editors would like to thank everyone who has contributed to this issue, either as an author or a reviewer. We realize that the past 13 months have been exceptionally exhausting and demanding due to COVID-19. We feel fortunate and honored to have worked with so many kind and patient individuals. We value your input, diligence, and commitment to the applied linguistics community. 



Zhenjie Weng, Mariana Lima Becker, & Stefan Vogel, Co-Editors

*** Please note that newsletter contents will display best on a desktop/laptop computer or tablet. You can also view this issue as a PDF portfolio