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Essential Learning, Student Success, and the Currency of U.S. Degrees

AAC&U Annual Meeting
January 26-29, 2011
San Francisco, CA / Hyatt Regency Hotel

Call for Proposals

AAC&U invites proposals of substantive, engaging sessions that will raise provocative questions, engage participants in discussion, and create and encourage dialogue – before, during, and after the conference itself.

The deadline for the Call for Proposals was Monday, July 19. If you have questions about your proposal or the proposal process in general, please email Thank you.

Instructions for Submitting a Proposal

It is possible for you to skip ahead to the “Online Proposal Form,” but we suggest you read through the following information first. Once you have started completing the form, you will not be able to save the data for submission at a later date

Description of the Meeting
Writing a Strong Proposal
Length of Presentations
Session Formats
Online Resources
How to Submit a Proposal
Final Reminders
Dates to Remember
If You Have Questions
Online Proposal Form

Description of the  Meeting

Pressed by competitive notions of “world class” education, by the imperatives of changing international economic and political power, and by student demands that their education include opportunities to creatively tackle real-world challenges, colleges and universities are striving to become more global. Their efforts are made both more difficult and more urgent because they are taking place in the context of unsettling economic instability, in the midst of profound demographic change, and in the face of wavering political commitment to broad learning. What characterizes a global college or university?

Student expectations are driven by similar concerns. Students seek an education that will help them thrive in the future and perhaps even change the world. They equate a high-quality college education with an education that helps them find their place in the world.

These two closely related demands for global positioning come together where essential learning meets the urgent issues of today and the future. How do we design educational strategies for the dynamism of essential global learning? What areas of knowledge and types of skills are critical for the challenges and opportunities of the twenty-first century? How can students learn to adapt to new contexts and new demands? How do ideas about diversity, civic engagement, and social responsibility translate to a global framework?

In sum, what is the global position of liberal education?

Such questions broaden current conversations about student success—defined not by the minimal level of completion but by the highest level of expectation.  Educational success must be measured by our most ambitious striving for essential learning. College degrees will increasingly be judged by their global position (in a comparative and competitive sense, e.g., the Bologna Process) as well as their global positioning (how well they correlate to graduates who can compete in a global economy and act on their civic and ethical commitments in an interdependent and diverse world).

A global liberal education cannot afford to be neutral about democratic and global knowledge and engagement.

The 2011 Annual Meeting will showcase examples from institutions that are staking claim to new global positions and creating opportunities for students to find their own global identities by focusing with renewed intensity on aims, learning outcomes and assessments, curriculum designs, and progressively more challenging learning to develop students’ global capabilities.

Below are suggested questions we invite you to address in your proposals.  We welcome compelling session proposals on other issues as well.

Global Positioning for Institutional Success

  • What does a global institution look like? What existing structures need to be changed? What are the implications of these changes for faculty members, administrators, staff, and students?
  • How is the current economic and political landscape promoting or thwarting efforts to develop globally prepared students?
  • Does global positioning require new kinds of partnerships?  What are the characteristics of those partnerships?
  • How is technology being put to use to make institutions more global?
  • Where do the global and the local intersect?
  • How will global institutions develop neglected talent from underserved communities in the United States and abroad?

Global Positioning for Student Success

  • What does a global institution look like from the student’s perspective? Are we successfully making the case that liberal education is essential learning for a global century?
  • How are institutions capitalizing on global positioning to link outcomes frameworks to student support efforts?
  • Are curricular designs up to date?  Do they deliver the most valuable elements of global learning? Do they take advantage of high-impact pedagogies?
  • Are institutions rethinking and renewing general education to meet the needs of global positioning?
  • What does a globally focused undergraduate education mean for the disciplines and for interdisciplinary study?  Can we afford to pursue both paths to global learning?
  • How can institutions frame global questions that truly integrate science, the arts, and the humanities?

Global Positioning for Degrees of Success

  • What is the currency of the U.S. degree?  What levels of essential learning does the degree signify?
  • How are institutions and students assessing and demonstrating that learning?
  • What are the roles of not-for-profits as well as for-profits in developing U.S. capabilities?
  • What are the lessons of the Bologna Process? And how might they be translated into strategies to tune disciplines in the United States?
  • Are institutions fully developing the creativity and civility that graduates will need to imagine healthy global futures?

Writing a Strong Proposal

We encourage proposals that raise provocative questions, engage participants in discussion, and create and encourage dialogue ¾ before, during, and after the conference itself.

All proposals should reflect current work,  recent findings, and/ or new perspectives.

  • Please identify the intended audience and active learning goals for the session (including what attendees will gain from going to the session – and how)

  • Priority will be given to proposals that link the work of multiple institutions and reflect diverse perspectives, innovations, disciplines, and programmatic areas.  Joint submissions from across campuses and campus-community partners are encouraged, and we particularly welcome student perspectives. (We expect that HEDs Up and 20/20 proposals will be submitted by a single presenter.)

  • The AAC&U audience particularly appreciates sessions that illustrate the perspectives of different organizational roles (e.g., faculty members, department chairs, deans, provosts).

  • AAC&U is committed to presenting an Annual Meeting at which sessions and participants reflect the pluralism of our campus communities.  Please include presenters who bring diverse perspectives and life experiences to the topic or issue your proposal addresses.

  • We encourage proposals that address the challenges encountered – not just the successes.   As noted in a meeting evaluation: “I appreciated hearing about how well a new program was working, but I found it more valuable to hear about some of the challenges that were eventually overcome.”

  • Sessions should engage participants in thinking about how they might translate and adapt this research or project / model / innovation to their own institutions or professional settings.  “Show and tell” submissions that have little or no applicability to other institutions will not be considered.  

  • We ask that you present work that has proven effective and is well beyond the planning stages.

  • Do not read your paper at the Annual Meeting. This is the top complaint from audience members each year.  Proposals that refer to the presentation as “this paper” will be not be considered.

Finally, we pass along this comment from a participant at our 2010 meeting:

Presenters should be mindful of all that we know about good teaching practices. …  Lecture-style presentations are as boring for us as they are for students.

Length of Presentations

NOTE:  Most sessions will be 60 or 75 minutes long, with a very limited number of 90-minute sessions. All sessions must include ample opportunities for dialogue with participants.  

NEW in 2011

“HEDs Up”
HEDs Up (Higher Ed Session) is a new format in the mold of “TED Talks” – the Technology, Entertainment, and Design conference. The limit for each speaker is 10 minutes.  The presentation should focus on an innovative project or program, compelling research, or “the next big idea” – about the curriculum, the campus, or higher education in general – that is new to the majority of the AAC&U audience.  It must be provocative, challenging, and, above all, interesting.  (Bonus points for being entertaining, as well.)  Creative use of technology is encouraged, but not required.  One moderated 75-minute session will consist of five presentations to ensure that the session is lively and moves quickly to the next speaker. 

Panel Presentation
Traditional format with presentation(s) followed by discussion with the audience.

20/20 Session
This format was created in response to those who want practical “how-to” information – and want the information quickly. The 20/20 sessions are intended to be energetic and creative, compressing what might have been a 75 minute session into a crisp, dynamic delivery of that session’s core points.

Please note:

  • 20/20 sessions are 60 minutes long and comprised of two, separately submitted 20-minute presentations (on similar or compatible topics), each followed by a 10-minute discussion. 
  • All 20/20 sessions will have an AAC&U moderator to ensure that time limits are followed.
  • We suggest that 20/20 sessions have no more than two speakers for each 20-minute presentation.
  • This format is one of the few for which single-speaker presentations are accepted.
  • A proposal for a 20/20 session is for one 20-minute presentation.  AAC&U will combine your proposal with another to create the final session.

Research Session
Presentation of findings, works in progress, or new methodologies pertaining to teaching and learning.

Discussion Session
Brief presentation(s) with the primary focus on discussion and/or small-group exercises.

Online Resources for your Session

Supplemental Material Available on the Web
If your proposal pertains to a project, program, course, writings, or other feature for which there is (or could be) descriptive material on the Web, please provide the URL address with your proposal. AAC&U’s Web site will include these links when we post the online conference program in the autumn.

Advance Readings
We encourage you to make available advance readings that participants will find useful for your session.  We ask that you send us these documents (in PDF files), and we will post them with the online conference program.  If these readings are already posted, just send us the link and we will include that.

How to Submit a Proposal

Electronic Submission:  Proposals were submitted electronically on or before July 19. If you need assistance, please contact Suzanne Hyers at or call 202-387-3760.

Deadline:  Please submit your proposal on or before Monday, July 19, 2010.

Notification:  You should receive an automatic message indicating receipt of your proposal when it is submitted. If you do not receive this message, please send an e-mail to Suzanne Hyers at

Final Confirmation re: Receipt of Proposal:  AAC&U will send an e-mail on or before August 9, 2010, to every Contact Person as a final confirmation of receipt of your proposal. Please make a note of this. If you do not receive this e-mail, it is possible that your proposal was lost in the data transfer.

Acceptance:  You will be notified via e-mail by September 30, 2010, regarding the status of your proposal.

Registration Fees:

All presenters at the Annual Meeting are responsible for the appropriate registration fees. Please be sure all presenters submitted in your proposal have this information. Registration materials will be available online beginning September 13, 2010.

Final Reminders:

  • Please complete all fields, including information pertaining to all additional speakers.
  • Please include links to supplemental materials, if available.

By submitting a proposal, you agree to:

  • Register and pay fees, if the proposal is accepted.
  • Inform your copresenters about the proposal’s status and the need for all presenters to register and pay fees.

Dates to Remember:

July 19, 2010:  Proposals due to AAC&U

September 13, 2010:   Registration materials available online

September 30, 2010:   Acceptance (or rejection) of proposals sent to all Contact Persons

If You Have Questions or Need Additional Information

Please do not hesitate to contact us at or call AAC&U at 202-387-3760. We look forward to receiving your proposal.