The HES annual meeting in 2040

The Fall 2040 meeting is billed as a celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the reelection of President Donald J. Trump. The Program Committee has solicited papers, symposia, poster sessions and round tables addressing a variety of topics, including (but not limited to) the following:

  • How has the creation of historical scholarship changed, how has it stayed the same … and who now decides?
  • How might the Founding Fathers view the transformation of American governance from a constitutional republic to a quasi-monarchy?
  • What were the historical foundations of the momentous merger with Russia and the dissolution of the North Atlantic alliance?
  • What factors led to the 20-year domination of white men in national politics since 2020?
  • Is the Supreme Court still relevant from an historical perspective?
  • How did we get from the Gilded Age economy to the economic realities of the mid-21st Century?

The 2040 HES annual meeting is held virtually. Travel restrictions outlined in Executive Order 2032-A16 prevent blue state participants from traveling to red states as well as the obverse, so the Board is compelled to hold the meeting online. Technological advances permit participants to be in multiple sessions simultaneously. Each session is recorded for future review. Holographs are a required feature of each presentation.

All participants are required to participate in daily morning calisthenics (conducted virtually), the Pledge of Allegiance to the Commander in Chief and a Bible reading from the New Testament (chosen by the HES Board from a selection provided to them for the occasion).

While many aspects of the annual meeting have changed, some have remained constant over time. Graduate students are still at the core of the enterprise. They attend the annual meeting at no cost and are provided at least two mentors – one a senior and the other a junior scholar. All of their session proposals are accepted and they are given substantial feedback on both the proposal and the subsequent presentation. The drift toward corporatization of American higher education’s curriculum focus has continued unabated, however, and senior administrators have had to chase increasingly scarce dollars, particularly in the public sector, so graduate student numbers are at their lowest point since 2000.

The business meeting also remains a source of good will and good cheer. While attendance is mandatory, there is no resistance because the agenda includes a discussion of the work of the affinity groups over the prior year, a celebration of the authors of all articles, books and monographs published since the last annual meeting and large cash awards presented to members (for the most outstanding book, the best dissertation, the most distinguished scholarly essay by faculty and graduate students and the best book produced by a junior faculty member). These awards were funded by the second major capital campaign, which was called Building on the Foundation and completed in 2030.

The Society remains an important intellectual, social and emotional home for its members. While the welcome reception and the banquet are now historical artifacts of the annual meeting, friendships and scholarly partnerships developed over the years continue to feed the souls as well as the minds of HES members. It is agreed by the participants at the 2040 annual meeting that the History of Education Society must be preserved and even expanded at all costs.

RDK/August 16, 2020