Call for Proposals

AAC&U invites proposals for concurrent sessions and poster presentations at the 2020 conference General Education, Pedagogy, and Assessment: Reflection and Meaning-Making in Turbulent Times.

The deadlines have both passed. Thank you to all that submitted. Notifications will be sent by November 15. Notifications for late submissions of posters will be sent by December 4.

AAC&U strongly encourages proposals that balance conceptual and theoretical frameworks with concrete, pragmatic examples; that highlight the how and the why of a practice, strategy, or cutting-edge model for achieving integrated and intentional designs for general education; and that showcase evidence of quality learning through general education programs. Proposals should address how the work can be adapted in a wide range of institutional types, including community colleges, research-extensive institutions, and minority-serving institutions.

All session presenters are responsible for conference registration fees, travel, and hotel expenses.  Presentations will take place from Thursday, February 20, at 8:00 p.m. through Saturday, February 22, at 12:00 noon.  Presenters should plan to be available at the time their session is scheduled.

Developing and Submitting a Proposal
Proposal Review Criteria
Conference Themes
Session Formats
Additional Information

Developing and Submitting a Proposal

The online proposal form includes the following fields:

  • Name, title, discipline, institution name (and Carnegie Classification), and email address for each facilitator
  • Session theme and 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 workshops, optional for other session types)
  • Brief description to be used in conference program if accepted (2–3 sentences for a total of 75–125 words. Descriptions should summarize the above fields and highlight what is distinctive and transferrable about the work you are presenting
  • Level of work: beginner, intermediate, or advanced

Proposal Review Criteria

AAC&U strives to offer a balanced, informative, and thought-provoking conference focused on frameworks for undergraduate liberal education. It seeks to empower and embolden all campus educators to provide a coherent, purposeful undergraduate experience for all students, with emphasis on effective pathways from cornerstone to capstone at and among two- and four-year institutions. 

The proposal selection committee will include experienced academic professionals of a diverse range of backgrounds and areas of expertise. Successful proposals will represent evidence-based theory-to-practice models that have proven effective in creating coherent, purposeful undergraduate experiences for all students and that involve practitioners across a campus or institution. The following elements serve as proposal selection criteria:

  • Potential for the proposed session/presentation to advance new equity-focused approaches to integrating general education with the major, demonstrating the centrality of general education in connecting student learning with critical social issues that matter to students and to society
  • Inclusion of evidence-based theory-to-practice models that connect research and scholarship with effective approaches to developing courses, curricula, pedagogies, assessment practices, and campus cultures that engage all students in high-quality learning experiences.
  • Extent to which the session/presentation offers creative, novel, and transformative mechanisms for designing general education and assessment
  • Extent to which the proposed session/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

Priority will be given to proposals that reflect diverse perspectives, innovations, disciplines, and programmatic areas. We particularly welcome student perspectives.

Conference Themes

The five conference themes and suggested topics within each theme reflect the Principles of General Education Maps and Markers (GEMs) developed as part of a nationwide study of foundational purposes of general education programs to advance student learning and preparation. The suggested topics below—Proficiency; Agency and Self-Direction; Engaged Pedagogy, Integrative Learning and Problem-Based Inquiry; Equity; and Intentionality, Transparency, and Assessment—serve as points of departure and should not be limiting.

Proficiency: General education should provide programs, curricula, and experiences leading to demonstrable, transferable learning proficiencies and outcomes that are portable across contexts and disciplines.

  • How are campus sectors building intentional, coherent structures that support purposeful learning throughout the undergraduate curriculum and cocurriculum? How are educators communicating across departments/programs/colleges to design pathways and maps that connect general education and the majors in new and creative ways, transcending traditional boundaries?
  • How are faculty and student affairs educators collaborating to foster a sense of purpose for students, and to connect student learning to real-world issues?
  • How are faculty scaffolding and connecting student learning outcomes across general education and the majors in ways that are transparent and useful to students?
  • How are campuses integrating general education and the major to fulfill higher education’s promised role in sustaining our democracy and educating for citizenship (local, national, and global)? How are campuses designing general education in the model of the commons—as places of integration across disciplines and cocurricular experiences—to prepare students for problem solving related to real-world issues?
  • How are two- and four-year institutions working together to ensure transferable, high-quality learning that prepares students to move between institutions, minimizes loss of credit, and reduces time-to-graduation?
  • How are accrediting agencies helping to align general education learning outcomes across institutions and within systems to facilitate ease and efficiency of transfer?

Agency and Self-Direction: Undergraduate education should empower students to develop the intellectual and personal capacities to achieve their educational and professional goals, enrich their lives, and act in principled and constructive ways, both in their personal lives and in society.

  • How do students learn? How can evidence drawn from student learning assessments inform assignment designs?
  • How are faculty and institutions structuring general education to ensure all students participate in a program of study built on equity-focused and equity-practiced curriculum?  
  • How are faculty connecting teaching and learning in the majors and in general education to develop students’ ownership of and interest in general education?
  • How are students, with guidance from faculty, taking the lead in framing questions that are important to them? How are they preparing to explain that significance to others?   How are educators helping students develop capacities—investigative skills, evidence-based reasoning, social imagination, collaborative competence, and the capacity for dialogue across difference—to grapple with problems for which the “right answer” is unknown or any answer may be actively contested?
  • How are campus leaders fostering programmatic, integrative, and scaffolded guided learning pathways to advance students’ ownership of their learning?

Engaged Pedagogy, Integrative Learning, and Problem-Based Inquiry: Students should demonstrate proficiency through an integration of curricular, cocurricular, community-based, and prior learning experiences, all of which can include digital communities of learning and practice. Students will achieve proficiencies most effectively through consistent engagement in problem-centered work on significant issues that are relevant to students’ interests and that require students to draw upon insights from multiple areas of study.

  • How are design thinking principles guiding assessment of student learning outcomes and of whole-program assessment?
  • How are faculty using the AAC&U VALUE Rubrics to create a sense of coherence and shared expectations in the undergraduate experience?
  • How are faculty assessing the quality of student outcomes in general education and the majors in ways that are transparent and useful to students?
  • How are educators collecting and analyzing data and using it to improve student learning? 
  • How are faculty communicating about the role of assessment in improving student learning and equity with each other, across disciplines, and with students?
  • How are educators connecting course-based assessment findings to overall campus assessments in meaningful ways?

Equity: General education programs should be equity-focused in design and implementation. General education programs should advance practices and policies aimed at achieving the full spectrum of learning outcomes for all students regardless of their backgrounds.

  • How are faculty thinking freshly about and engaging in general education in the context of their work in the disciplines? How are they working with all campus sectors to create one big picture for the undergraduate experience—in which coherence and purpose are preeminent?
  • How are faculty designing in-class assignments and assessments that connect student experiences and the assets they bring with them to learning outcomes across general education and the majors? How are faculty working across disciplines to foster signature assignments, high-impact practices and integrative learning?
  • How are faculty sharing their ideas and resources for pedagogical design?
  • How might integrating student learning outcomes across general education and the majors help faculty and administrators bridge structural divides and achieve purposeful campus change? 
  • How are contingent faculty included in general education design conversations?
  • How are teaching and learning centers connecting learning outcomes assessment with faculty development?
  • How is intentional design informing faculty workshops on assessment, calibration, and the practice of disconnecting assessment from grades?

Intentionality, Transparency, and Assessment: Students and institutions should be able to point to student work, especially problem- and project-based inquiry (signature work), as demonstrations of proficiency worthy of credit across institutional settings and as a body of evidence associated with earning a degree or credential.

  • How can assessment of learning be an essential part of constructing general education programs around stated learning outcomes?
  • How can faculty transform general education models based on distribution requirements into models involving intentional inquiry into big questions—overarching topics that illustrate the importance of multiple ways of knowing and studying needed to understand and act in the face of complex problems?
  • How can other educational professionals at our institutions be meaningfully engaged in helping students see connections between learning inside and outside the classroom?
  • What are the rationales for assessing learning outcomes across general education courses?
  • What purpose(s) does signature work play in general education programs and pathways?
  • Can traditional models of general education adequately provide the scaffolded development needed for essential cross-cutting learning outcomes if they are restricted solely to lower-level courses in the first two years of study?

Session Formats

Poster Session (90 minutes; 1–2 presenters; 6’x3’ table)
Poster presenters share visual models of research findings; general education course, program, and curricular or cocurricular designs; concept maps; assessment rubrics and feedback loops; faculty development, support, and reward programs and policies; frameworks for design thinking and strategic planning; and high-impact practices. The poster session provides an opportunity for presenters to talk with attendees about how to apply findings to their own work. AAC&U provides a 4’x3’ bifold poster board and 6’x3’ table for the poster board and other resources.  

Dialogue for Learning  (60 minutes; 1–4 facilitators; room set in roundtables; no audiovisuals)
Dialogues for Learning provide time for colleagues to examine timely and potentially provocative topics of similar interest through iterative sharing of expertise and experiences. They provide an opportunity to work through issues, ideas, and challenges from multiple perspectives. The facilitators’ job is to kickstart both small group conversations that then feed into a collective discussion on the question at hand. These dialogues may address the following questions:

  • How can we organize general education to result in student integration of learning across content areas?
  • How can general education designs improve students’ ways of knowing?
  • How do we make siloed organizational structures coherent and purposeful?
  • How can general education be a sense-making and meaning-making experience for students?
  • How do we critically examine and reshape academic structures and systems that were created for a different time and place?
  • How do we support and recognize faculty professional development for student success?
  • How can we make assessment processes and results matter for students and faculty?
  • What if the critics are correct, and much of how we assess is wrong?

Proposals for a dialogue should briefly set the context for the conversation related to one of the conference themes, and should articulate clearly the intended audience in terms of institutional type, position, or particular area of practice. Facilitators assist the group in examining new ways of thinking about the topic and strategies for moving forward given the professional reality and expertise of each individual in the room.

Workshops—Theory to Practice (75 minutes each; 2–4 facilitators; rooms set in roundtables; audiovisuals available upon request)
Workshops provide opportunities for participants to bridge theory with practice. Facilitators should guide participants in examining critical theories and scholarly evidence that support the mechanics of how to develop purposeful general education courses, curricula, pedagogies, practices, pathways, or strategies that integrate learning with the majors in the context of real-world issues. Facilitators should provide scholarship and evidence related to the topic and engage participants in reflection, discussion, and design work. Reviewers will give priority to proposals that model high-impact practices such as collaborative and hands-on activities, those that include a diversity of facilitators, and those that explain how the work applies to other institutional types.

Pecha Kucha (6 minutes; 1 presenter recommended; internet and other supports, as available, upon request)
Pecha Kucha (chit chat in Japanese) is combination of visual and oral presentation organized to convey a creative endeavor, research finding, or other interesting activity related to a particular conference theme. A Pecha Kucha presentation, which consists of 20 slides each running for 20 seconds, is carefully orchestrated to articulate key elements featured in each slide. Three Pecha Kucha presentations will be combined with 30 minutes of discussion time to create one 60-minute session.  The following link provides an overview and guidelines for designing a Pecha Kucha presentation:

Additional Information

The first deadline for submitting proposals was September 10 and late poster proposals will be accepted through November 15Upon submission of a proposal, the primary session contact should receive an automatic message indicating that AAC&U has received the proposal. If the contact does not receive this message (and it is not in his/her spam filter), please email


The primary session presenter will receive notice via email of the decision regarding the proposal by November 15 for the first deadline. Late poster proposals will be notified by December 4.

Expenses and Fees

All session presenters are responsible for conference registration fees, travel, and hotel expenses. Please ensure that all individuals listed in the proposal have this information and can be available at the appropriate time during the event. Presentation times range from the evening of Thursday, February 20, through Saturday, February 22, at 12:00 noon.

AAC&U Meeting Sponsors

AAC&U's Meeting Sponsorship program provides organizations, nonprofits, companies, publishers, and others the opportunity to showcase their products and services while exchanging information with members of a higher education audience. For more information about sponsorship opportunities, please go to AAC&U Sponsorships or contact AAC&U's Office of Outreach and Member Engagement at 202-387-3760 or email us at

Proposals that promote products or services available for purchase will not be considered through the call for proposals.