Call for Proposals: 2021 Diversity, Equity, and Student Success Conference

Proposal deadline has passed.

AAC&U invites proposals for strategy sessions, workshops, facilitated discussions, and posters at "Upholding These Truths: Equity, Diversity, and Democracy," the 2021 Virtual Conference on Diversity, Equity, and Student Success. 

AAC&U strongly encourages proposals that balance conceptual and theoretical frameworks with concrete, pragmatic examples. Presentations should focus on evidence-based programs that foster discovery and problem-solving through idea sharing and community building. We seek to highlight the how and why of a practice, strategy, or model and to facilitate the reflection and engagement that help translate vision into practice. Proposals should also address how the work can be adapted in a wide range of educational settings and  institutional types, including community colleges and minority-serving institutions.

All presenters are responsible for conference registration fees. Presentations will take place between 1:00 pm ET on Wednesday, March 24, and 4:00 pm ET on Friday, March 26. Presenters should plan to be available at the time their session is assigned in the conference program.

Developing and Submitting a Proposal

The online proposal form includes the following fields:

  • Name, title, discipline, institution name, (and Carnegie Classification) and email address of each facilitator
  • Session format
  • Session title (75-character limit, including spaces)
  • Anticipated participant learning outcomes (100-word limit)
  • Background and evidence of effectiveness of work being presented (250-word limit)
  • Plan for participant engagement (150-word limit, required for strategy sessions and workshops, optional for facilitated discussions and poster sessions)
  • Brief session description to be used in conference program if accepted (2-4 sentences for a total of 75–150 words. Descriptions should summarize the above fields and highlight what is distinctive and transferrable about the work you are presenting.)
  • Participant guidance, for both categories more than one response may be selected:
    • Level of expertise: Is the session designed for beginner, intermediate, or advanced participants?
    • Campus roles: Is the session most relevant for students, faculty, administrators, student affairs professionals, policymakers, researchers, or diversity officers?


Suggested Session Topics and Session Formats

Please note that this is not a definitive list of session topics that will be accepted.

  • Elevating Anti-Racism as a Priority in Higher Education
  • Building Capacity of Racial Trauma Informed Leaders
  • Student Activism as a High-Impact Practice
  • Designing Equity-Conscious High-Impact Practices
  • Faculty Diversity, Retention, and Recruitment
  • Inclusive and Responsive Pedagogy in all settings (virtual, hybrid and in-person)
  • Reimagining Higher Education to Better Educate Students
  • Institutional Accountability and DEI efforts
  • Student Well-Being and Sense of Belonging
  • Supporting Students Who are Experiencing Basic Needs Insecurities
  • Supporting DACA students
  • Social Responsibility and Community Engagement
  • Supporting Non-tenured Faculty
  • Campus Safety
  • Racial Healing and Transformation
  • Assessing Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Efforts
  • Civil Discourse and Campus Free Speech
  • Technology Designs that Advance Equity
  • Collaboration Across Departments and Divisions to Support Student Success

Session Formats
Strategy Sessions (120 minutes) are designed to guide participants as they develop action plans for significant work at the course, program, or institution level. Presenters should provide resources and templates to help participants structure their planning. Opportunities for discussion and feedback on the action plans should be included. Strategy Sessions will be held as pre-conference workshops on March 24, 2021 and each session will be capped at 40 participants.

Facilitated Discussions (60 minutes) provide time for colleagues to examine topics through the iterative sharing of expertise and experiences. They provide an opportunity to work through issues, engage in problem solving, and explore new ideas. 

Workshops (60 minutes) are designed to provide conference attendees with opportunities to examine, explore, or experience specific topics. They should include opportunities for engagement through practice, reflection, or engagement.

Poster Sessions (60 minutes) are visual displays of research, models, and materials. A poster session provides an opportunity for presenters to talk with attendees about how to apply findings to their own work. 

Proposal Review Criteria

AAC&U strives to offer a balanced, informative, and thought-provoking conference focused on frameworks that advance quality and equity as the foundations for excellence in undergraduate education.

The proposal selection committee will include experienced academic professionals from a diverse range of backgrounds and areas of expertise. Successful proposals will represent evidence-based theory-to-practice models that interrogate the effectiveness of existing campus cultures and structures in the context of today’s student demographics; local, national, and global communities; and our nation’s reliance on an educated and engaged citizenry. It invites innovative strategies and work in progress to transform cultures that are not keeping pace with these realities. The following elements serve as proposal selection criteria:

  • Potential for the proposed session/presentation to advance expansive and inclusive strategies for teaching and learning; to break down elitism in the academy; and to foster and sustain collaborations among academic affairs and student affairs; 
  • Inclusion of evidence-based, theory-to-practice models that connect research and scholarship with effective approaches to develop courses, curricula, pedagogies, assessment practices, and campus cultures that engage all students in high-quality learning experiences and that ensure all members of the community feel valued and respected;
  • Extent to which the session or presentation offers creative, novel, and transformative mechanisms for designing and facilitating critical dialogues to advance understanding across difference and promote idea sharing for institutional transformation;
  • Extent to which the proposed session or presentation provides evidence of effectiveness, lessons learned, challenges overcome, and applicability across a range of institutional types;
  • Explicit plans for involving participants in reflection, discussion, exercises, and other activities that will help them understand and apply the material; and
  • Extent to which proposals reflect diverse perspectives, innovations, disciplines, and strategies for change (student voices and perspectives are encouraged).

Additional Information

The deadline to submit proposals is Tuesday, December 15, 2020.
Upon submission of a proposal, the primary session contact will receive an automatic message confirming receipt of the submission. If the contact does not receive this message (and it is not in their spam or junk folder), please email The primary contact is responsible for sharing presenter-related communications with all co-presenters.


The primary session contact will receive a proposal notification letter indicating the decision on the proposal on January 20, 2021. Please be sure to check your spam or junk folder as well.

Expenses and Fees

All session presenters are responsible for conference registration fees. Please ensure that all individuals listed in the proposal have this information and will be available at the appropriate time during the event.

Sponsorship Opportunities

AAC&U provides opportunities for sponsors to showcase their products and services and to engage with attendees during the conference. For more information, please visit the sponsorship page or contact the Office of Outreach and Member Engagement at 202-387-3760 or Proposals for conference sessions or presentations that promote products or services available for purchase will not be considered through the review process outlined above.