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Reclaiming a Democratic Vision for College Learning,
Global Engagement, and Success

AAC&U Annual Meeting
January 25-28, 2012
Washington, DC / Grand Hyatt Hotel

Please note: The deadline for the Call for Proposals was July 18.

Call for Proposals

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

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

If you are a potential sponsor of the Annual Meeting and would like to propose a session on the work of your product or services, please contact AAC&U’s Office of Development at 202-387-3760. Thank you.


Description of the Meeting
In 1947, The Truman Commission on Higher Education “selected from among the principle goals for higher education, those which should come first in our time. They are to bring to all people of the Nation:

  • Education for a fuller realization of democracy in every phase of living.
  • Education directly and explicitly for international understanding and cooperation.
  • Education for the application of creative imagination and trained intelligence to the solution of social problems and to the administration of public affairs.”

Facing national and global challenges that demanded difficult choices, Commission members sought to reclaim a sense of shared future for a war-torn, nuclear age.

If we imagine the educational goals such a Commission might highlight today, we confront a dangerous and potentially disastrous public narrowing of vision.  Higher education is currently valued more for its economic and individual benefits than for its contributions to the common good.  The resulting focus on market priorities has crowded out long-established civic commitments.  A 21st century liberal education cannot afford to be neutral about democratic knowledge and global engagement.   Are today’s global challenges less compelling or less urgent than those faced 65 years ago? Is the need to preserve and extend freedom less pressing today than it was then?

AAC&U’s 2012 Annual Meeting will explore these questions and showcase examples from institutions that are successfully building upon democratic visions and practices in complex global contexts—visions and practices that are shaping institutional missions, improving undergraduate education, and challenging  narrow definitions of success.

The following are suggested tracks to help focus your session proposal. Of course, we welcome compelling proposals on other issues as well.

Liberal Education for a Fuller Realization of Democracy

  • How is the academy balancing economic considerations and democratic considerations when setting the priorities for college learning and for institutional success?   How are institutions ensuring that students acquire the skills and capacities essential for professional success, as well as for responsible citizenship?

  • How do broad democratic goals change definitions of relevant student learning outcomes for college learning? How are campuses using the frameworks provided by LEAP and the Lumina Degree Qualification Profile to articulate civic engagement and global learning, as well as
    disciplinary knowledge and skills?

  • What is the role of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics education both for fueling economic growth and for increasing democratic engagement?

  • How are civic commitments honored in the context of community colleges, liberal arts colleges, comprehensive institutions, and research universities? Public and private institutions? Rural and urban communities?

  • What are the high-impact educational practices associated with democratic learning outcomes?  How do they correlate to time on task? What is the role of online learning and competency-based learning?

Liberal Education for Greater Global Understanding and Cooperation

  • How are faculty members reimagining general education and the shape of undergraduate majors as we move from an “American Century” to a “Global Century”?

  • What is the role of place in helping students see the local in the global and global in the local? What curricular and cocurricular practices are making that happen?

  • How do the arts and humanities contribute to a sense of shared futures in an interconnected and interdependent world? What is their particular value in reclaiming democratic visions?

  • How is technology reshaping democratic communities? How is technology increasing opportunities for greater global learning and collaboration?

  • How are we preparing students for the global contexts of the work of the 21st century?

  • What can US-based institutions learn from a renewed focus on liberal education and democratic learning in nations around the world? How is liberal education being “translated” into other cultural and political contexts?

  • How do the emerging democratic movements abroad shine new light on all of these questions, raise new challenge, and provide new hope?   

Liberal Education, Creativity, and Problem-Solving

  • What educational practices are most effective in developing the knowledge, skills, and values students need to apply creative imagination to real world problems? How are we assessing those practices?

  • How are we insuring that all students—and especially new majority students—have equitable access to high impact educational practices that help prepare them for work, citizenship, global interdependence, and a fulfilling life?

  • What kinds of partnerships across campus and community are fostering broader visions of success linked to democratic engagement and problem solving?

  • What is the role of higher education institutions as citizens—of community, nation and globe? What evidence do we have of institutional citizenship?

Liberal Education and the Measures of Success

  • What does student success for the 21st century mean? How are we assessing the full value (and values) of degrees? How can we move conversations beyond retention and graduation rates to include quality of learning?

  • How are e-portfolios helping students and institutions clarify and demonstrate success?   As attention increasingly turns to integrative and interdisciplinary learning, how have our measures and expectations of success changed?  How are institutions using e-portfolios so that they represent a high-impact practice that deepens learning?

  • How are successful leadership teams making difficult choices and rising above market mindsets? In educational investments? In the role of contingent faculty? In strategic planning? In measuring the success of institutions in the practice and stewardship of democracy?

  • How are common core standards shaping debates about assessment, accountability, and success? What are we learning from the evolving role of community colleges and their tighter alignment both with common core standards and with four-year institutions?

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.

  • 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 suggestion from a participant at a recent 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:  Sessions will be 10, 20, 30, 60 or 75 minutes long, with a very limited number of 90-minute sessions.  With the exception of the 10-minute session, all must include opportunities for dialogue with participants.  

Session Formats

In response to the AAC&U audience’s request for briefer presentations, we have offered additional formats in recent years—such as the 20/20 Session and the HEDs Up Session—which include presentations combined with others.  Although the briefer presentations are popular with presenters and audience members alike, some participants suggested that we should schedule shorter sessions without combining presentations.  Thus, we have added the 30-minute session for 2012.

Shorter sessions offer more opportunities to present at the Annual Meeting (which also increases a proposal’s chance of being accepted).  We invite you to learn more and select the format most appropriate for you.

“HEDs UP” – Higher Ed Session
HEDs UP is a format in the model of “TED Talks” – the Technology, Entertainment, and Design conference that limits each speaker to 18 minutes.  For AAC&U, that limit 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.  HEDs Up presentations should be provocative, challenging, and, above all, interesting.  (Bonus points for being entertaining, as well.)   One moderated 75-minute session will consist of five presentations to ensure that the session is lively and moves quickly to the next speaker. 

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 longer session into a crisp, dynamic delivery of that presentation’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.

  • 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.

The following formats can be presented in 30-, 60-, 75-, or 90-minute time slots.

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

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 with or among audience members.

Proposals  for E-Portfolio Forum on Saturday, January 28

AAC&U's third annual e-portfolio event will provide opportunities for individuals to explore core issues of the e-portfolio field, including reflection, implementation challenges, and assessment.  Whether you see yourself as a beginner, intermediate, or advanced participant, we invite you to submit a proposal for presentation at the E-Portfolio Forum.   E-Portfolio Forum session times on Saturday, January 28, will range from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm. 

Online Resources for your Session

Supplemental Material and/or Advance Readings for 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.  You can also post advance readings in the autumn to encourage more discussion at your session.  (We will call these readings to the attention of the audience in January.)

How to Submit a Proposal

Electronic Submission
Please submit your proposal electronically as directed on the form. If you need assistance, please contact Suzanne Hyers at or call 202-387-3760.

Deadline:  Please submit your proposal on or before Monday, July 18, 2011.

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 10 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 email by September 30, 2011, 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 19, 2011.

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 co-presenters about the proposal’s status and the need for all presenters to register and pay fees.

Dates to Remember

July 18, 2011
Proposals due to AAC&U

September 19, 2011
Registration materials available online

September 30, 2011
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 to call AAC&U at 202-387-3760. We look forward to receiving your proposal.


The deadline for submission of proposals was July 18, 2011