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Innovations, Efficiencies, and Disruptions—To What Ends?

AAC&U Annual Meeting
January 23-26, 2013
Atlanta, Georgia / Hyatt Regency Hotel

AAC&U is no longer accepting proposals for the 2013 Annual Meeting. If you have questions, please contact us at Thank you.

Call for Proposals

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

Session Formats
Interactive Sessions
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.


Meeting Description

Individuals and institutions are negotiating the complex, interconnected challenges of globalization, demographic change, rapid technological advancement, and renegotiated political and economic relationships. Pressures within higher education are encouraging transition and transformation, while external forces are demanding greater accountability and affordability.  In such a shifting landscape, there are abundant opportunities to refocus, reinvent, reimagine—or stumble.

The calls for innovation are pervasive—but are we losing our focus?  Where are questions of quality being addressed in the higher education landscape?

Is the sense of urgency that accompanies widespread change clouding our ability to distinguish innovation that is bold from that which is misguided . . . or truly dangerous?  Is progress toward improved quality in higher education being undermined by perverse incentive systems that reward bad practice? Do we share a vision of our destinations and the paths to get us there?  Do we know how to productively navigate competing pressures for change?  What leverage points have the greatest potential to move higher education toward desired outcomes?

Participants at the 2013 meeting will explore a wide range of new approaches to quality learning.  We will address important efforts to increase completion rates and access to higher education, alongside comprehensive efforts to ensure the integrity of college degrees.  If we hope to continue to provide intellectual, economic, and democratic leadership, the academy needs to be able to describe, implement, and measure the kinds and levels of learning a degree represents.  New frameworks that define degrees are important, but should not be judged by their elegant designs and theoretical alignments alone.  We must make sure that all degrees offer students pathways along which they will creatively engage complex, real-world challenges.  We must also ensure that these experiences produce assessable evidence of authentic student work and achievement. 

Student learning, in other words, must become the criteria by which we judge innovation.

We welcome compelling session proposals in the following key topic areas:

The Future of Liberal Education

  • What are the sources and results of innovation, disruption, and efficiencies? What are the implications for liberal education?
  • How are campuses using the frameworks provided by LEAP and the Lumina Degree Qualification Profile to articulate disciplinary knowledge and skills as well as interdisciplinary engagement with complex, real-world challenges?
  • How are colleges and universities balancing innovation with calls for standardization vis-à-vis degrees?
  • What are we learning from the evolving role of community colleges and tighter alignment both with common core standards and with four-year institutions?
  • How are campuses collaborating to facilitate student transfer of learning from one institution to another to assure student success along a chosen plan of study?

Using Evidence

  • Where is the assessment movement heading and how is it broadly shaping higher education policy and priorities? What are the consequences—intended and unintended?
  • How are e-portfolios helping students and institutions clarify and demonstrate success? How are institutions using e-portfolios so that they represent a high-impact practice that deepens learning?
  • As attention increasingly turns to integrative and interdisciplinary learning and to educating students to be responsible citizens, how have our measures and expectations of success changed?
  • 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? What is the potential for useful, evidence-based comparisons?

E-Portfolios and Student Learning

  • What evidence do we have about the impact of e-portfolios on student learning? Evidence that e-portfolios are a useful mode for communicating student success?
  • How are e-portfolios helping students and institutions clarify and demonstrate success?
  • How are institutions using e-portfolios so that they represent a high-impact practice that deepens learning?
  • How are e-portfolios helping students and institutions understand student learning as students transfer among and between campuses?

The Future of the Faculty

  • What is the impact of the search for efficiencies on faculty roles? On departmental structures?
  • Do we have the diverse faculties we need to help students engage today’s full range of perspectives and issues?
  • What is the relationship between student learning and shifting faculty profiles (non-tenure track and part time)?
  • How are faculty members reimagining general education and the shape of undergraduate majors as we move from an “American Century” to a “Global Century”?
  • How are faculty members being prepared to teach and use technology in ways that promote excellence for all students? 
  • How is faculty innovation in student-centered teaching, learning, and assessment being supported and rewarded? How is it being undermined?

Connecting Knowledge to Real-World Responsibilities

  • What educational practices are most effective in developing the knowledge, skills, and values students need to apply creative imagination and social responsibility to real-world problems?
  • How are campuses immersing all students in analysis, discovery, problem solving, and communication to connect learning in general education with solutions for real-world problems?
  • How is the academy balancing economic considerations and democratic considerations when setting the priorities for college learning and for institutional success?  
  • What kinds of partnerships across campus and community are fostering broader visions of success linked to democratic engagement and problem solving?

E-Quality: Technology, High-Impact Practices, and Social Justice              

  • How is technology reshaping higher education? How can it improve learning and transform classroom practice?
  • How are we ensuring 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?
  • How is technology reshaping democratic communities and increasing opportunities for greater global learning and collaboration?
  • How are students interrogating and constructing knowledge and skills in a technology- and information-rich society?  What are the implications for campus educators?

Aligning Policy with Commitments to Quality

  • How are newly proposed state and federal policies related to efficiency and effectiveness facilitating or harming efforts to improve the quality of student learning?
  • How can state policies advance expansion of access to high-impact teaching and learning practices?
  • How are higher education leaders and practitioners productively working with K-12 partners to advance college readiness agendas?
  • How are new approaches to assessment influencing state-level accountability systems?  How could accountability systems advance a quality learning agenda?
  • Can new student transfer policies within and across systems facilitate progress toward degrees while also increasing student achievement of cross-cutting learning outcomes?



Proposal Abstract (400 words)
The abstract should describe the content and significance of the session, as well as how it relates to the theme of the meeting.  Participants will be most interested in new information, innovative programs, and proven results.  

Brief Description (50 words)
This description will be used for the final program.  Please remember that—should your proposal be accepted—a participant’s decision to attend your session will be based in large part on this description.  We encourage you to make it as accurate, and compelling, as possible.

Intended Audience (25 words)
Please indicate who would best benefit from attending this session.

Expected Learning Outcomes (50-75 words)
Please describe—or list—the outcomes with which you hope the audience members will leave the session—i.e., the “takeaways.”



  • The AAC&U audience continues to appreciate—and request—shorter sessions.  We strongly encourage presentations that are crisp, current, and creative.
  • All sessions (with the exception of the 75-minute roundtable discussions) will be 10-, 60-, or 75-minutes in length. 
  • With the exception of the 10-minute session, all must include opportunities for dialogue with participants.  

“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.)  AAC&U will create moderated 75-minute sessions -- each consisting of five separately submitted HEDs Up presentations -- to ensure that the session is lively and moves quickly to the next speaker. Please note that a proposal submission for a HEDs Up session should be for one 10-minute presentation.

The following formats can be presented in 30-, 60-, or 75-minute time slots (with the exception of the Roundtable Discussion, as noted).

E-Portfolio Session
Please include a demonstration and/or links to student or institutional work, if possible.

Panel Presentation
Traditional format with presentation(s) followed by discussion among the speakers and/or with the audience. 

Homepage Session:  A Focus on Technology
Presentation of curricular models or programs that use new technologies to enhance teaching and learning.

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.

Roundtable Discussion Session
Informal roundtable conversations typically focusing on one specific program or institution. (Conference participants will be welcome to focus on one presentation or circulate among others.)  Roundtable Discussions will be scheduled as part of a 75-minute session time.

NEW in 2013!     Internet Access and the Potential for Interactive Sessions

  • Annual Meeting participants will have internet access at all sessions of the Annual Meeting.  We encourage speakers to take advantage of this opportunity and provide a more interactive experience for the AAC&U audience.
  • All presenters will be asked to provide PDF’s of their PowerPoints and/or handouts—as well as links to supplemental materials—so AAC&U can post information before the Annual Meeting.  Audience members can then access this information before, during, or after the session. 
  • If you have links to supplemental information available at this time, please provide the URL address with your proposal.  AAC&U will also write to all speakers in the autumn requesting session materials.



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.

  • 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, consortia, 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.
  • Please keep in mind the time reserved for dialogue when determining how many speakers you include with your proposal.


  • Proposals that simply describe the work of one particular program or project, and are not applicable or of interest to a broad audience, are likely to be scheduled as a roundtable discussion, rather than as a stand-alone session.
  • Proposals that promote products or services available for purchase will not be considered through the regular proposal process, but will be referred to AAC&U’s Sponsorship Program.  More information about sponsorships for the Annual Meeting is available by writing to



Electronic Submission:
If you need assistance, please contact Suzanne Hyers at or call 202-387-3760.

Please submit your proposal on or before Monday, July 16, 2012.

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 15 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.

You will be notified via email by September 28, 2012, 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 17, 2012.


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 16, 2012
Proposals due to AAC&U

September 17, 2012                     
Registration materials available online

September 28, 2012
Acceptance (or rejection) of proposals sent to all Contact Persons


If You Have Questions:

Please contact us at or call 202.387.3760.

Session proposals must be received by July 16, 2012