Attending and Participating in Academic Conferences

Attending and participating in academic conferences can be an important part of one’s development as a theologian or biblical scholar. Doing so affords students with an opportunity to hear and present papers, and to forge connections with other budding scholars. While there are many conferences that a student might attend, following is a summary of just a few key conferences that students enrolled in Western’s Th.M. program would particularly benefit from. This is especially the case considering the proximity of these conferences to the Seminary’s Portland, Oregon campus.[1]

Evangelical Theological Society (ETS)

At a minimum, Th.M. students at Western Seminary are encouraged participate in both regional and national meetings of the ETS. If you are a Th.M. student at Western, and you have not yet become a student member of the ETS, then visit the following link, and take the steps needed to obtain membership:

The next national meeting of the ETS will be held November 17-19, 2015, in Atlanta, Georgia. In order to present a paper at this conference, a person must either be a full member, or a student member enrolled in Ph.D. program. This means that Th.M. students ordinarily cannot present at the national conference. However, Th.M. students are still encouraged to attend this conference, as they are able to do so.

The next regional meeting of the ETS for the Northwest Region is scheduled for March 5, 2016. The meeting will be held at Multnomah University, in Portland, Oregon. A call for papers has not yet been sent out for this conference. This call typically goes out near the beginning of the year. Th.M. students are allowed to present papers at this conference. If you are a Western Th.M. student, then you should definitely be watching for, and respond to the call for papers.


American Academy of Religion (AAR)/Society of Biblical Literature (SBL)/American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR)

While the ETS is an organization whose theological commitments accord more precisely with those of evangelicalism, this does not mean that evangelicals cannot benefit from engaging in conferences sponsored by organizations with a broader membership base. AAR, SBL, and ASOR are organizations that bring together experts in the fields of theology, biblical studies, and Near East studies.

The next national meeting of AAR/SBL will be held November 21-24, 2015, in Atlanta, Georgia. The national ASOR meeting will also be held in Atlanta, from November 18-21. Th.M. students are allowed to present at these conferences. However, the calls for papers for the 2015 conferences are now closed. For information about these conferences, follow these links:

The next regional meeting for the Pacific Northwest Region of AAR/SBL/ASOR is scheduled for May 6-8, 2016. The meeting will be held at the University of Idaho. A call for papers has gone out for this conference, and can be found at the following link:

If you are a Western Th.M. student, then you should consider responding to this call.


Los Angeles Theology Conference (LATC)

The LATC is a relatively new theology conference, put together by Oliver Crisp and Fred Sanders. The conference alternates locations between Fuller Theological Seminary and Biola University, in Southern California. According to the official description, the LATC is, “an annual international conference concerned with the discussion and explication of Christian doctrine. It is a self-consciously ecumenical endeavor that seeks to resource contemporary systematic theology through high-quality published outputs associated with the conference themes.”

The fourth annual conference is scheduled to be held January 14-15, 2016 at Fuller. The topic for this year is “The Voice of God in the Text of Scripture.” The scheduled plenary speakers are William Abraham, Stephen Fowl, John Goldingay, Amy Plantinga Pauw, and Daniel Treier. The call for papers is now closed for this conference, and Th.M. students are not allowed to submit (a completed Ph.D. is required). However, Th.M. students would certainly benefit from attenting this conference – especially if a student is working in the field of systematic theology.

For more information about this conference, click the following link:



[1] For the ETS, AAR, SBL, and ASOR conferences, it is only the regional conferences that are in close proximity to Western’s main campus.

About Tim Harmon

Timothy G. Harmon is Assistant Director of the Th.M. Program at Western Seminary, and lead pastor at Northeast Baptist Church in Portland, Oregon. He is a graduate of Western Seminary (M.A.B.T.S. and Th.M.), and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in systematic theology.

1 thought on “Attending and Participating in Academic Conferences

  1. The meeting date for the 2016 Pacific Northwest Region of AAR/SBL/ASOR conference has been changed to May 20-22.

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