Diversity, Learning, and Student Success 2015: Call for Proposals

The call for proposals deadline has passed. If you submitted a proposal, you will receive notification of the decision by October 10. Questions may be directed to Siah Annand at Annand@aacu.org.

Programmatic Themes
Developing and Submitting a Proposal
Proposal Review Criteria 
Session Formats
LEAP Featured Sessions
Additional Information

Session proposals are invited that address one of the four themes below and that include evidence about what works, and what does not, to support equity in student persistence and high-quality learning. We look forward to your proposals in the context of any of these themes.

Theme I: Diversity and Inclusive Excellence as an Institutional Value System
Theme II: Equity and High-Quality Learning for All Students
Theme III: High-Impact Practices and Digital Innovations
Theme IV:  Developing and Supporting Educators for Inclusive Excellence, Leadership, and Change

Programmatic Themes

Theme I:  Diversity and Inclusive Excellence as an Institutional Value System

  • What are the policies and practices that promote campus climates for diversity, equity, access, and success so that each works individually and collectively?
  • What are emerging strategies for recruiting and retaining diverse faculty, staff, and students?
  • How are campuses integrating diversity and equity initiatives into the campus culture and into educational improvement efforts? How are diversity and equity efforts moving from the periphery of campus practice to the center of campus work? What are the barriers and challenges for making diversity and equity central to campus practice?
  • How are campuses engaging the community of educators and learners in difficult dialogues about identity and privilege?
  • How are campuses exploring diversity, not just as difference, but as opportunities for social cohesion, civic responsibility, and social justice?
  • In what ways do internationalization and domestic diversity intersect?  In what ways do they require complementary but distinctive approaches?  How can campuses avoid making these competing priorities?

Theme II:  Equity and High-Quality Learning for All Students

  • How can institutions develop student success plans that are inclusive of students’ diverse experiences and perspectives, advance equity in student achievement, and also improve student learning outcomes?
  • What are the institutional environments and contexts that allow for equitable and high-quality learning?
  • How are institutions using disaggregated student achievement and learning data to promote and achieve educational equity?
  • What metrics and assessment tools are available that encourage a student asset-based approach to assessing student achievement of learning outcomes?
  • How are effective programs designed to target specific student populations and scaled-up to improve success and learning for all students?

Theme III: High-Impact Practices and Digital Innovations

  • How can campuses help students develop the intellectual capacities (e.g., investigation, evidence-based reasoning, integrative learning, and collaborative problem-solving) to explore unscripted problems within diverse communities and in global contexts?
  • What are innovative teaching methods, pedagogies, and assessment strategies that support student learning, especially for underserved students? How do these strategies encourage student engagement?
  • What are strategies for designing and mapping high-impact educational experiences that target educational inequities across the curriculum? 
  • How are faculty, student affairs educators, and students improving student success (including non-digital and digital approaches) and examining diversity and equity in the context of the classroom and co-curricular activities?
  • What are non-digital and digital strategies for designing discipline specific and integrative high-impact learning experiences?
  • How can digital resources and learning transform the educational experience to address equity in high-quality learning and student achievement?

Theme IV: Developing and Supporting Educators for Inclusive Excellence, Leadership, and Change

  • How can campuses prepare all faculty and staff to participate in and lead difficult dialogues about identity, power, and privilege? How can those conversations translate into meaningful campus change for inclusion and success of all faculty, staff, and students?
  • How can campuses design institutional structures that support and reward the full engagement of all faculty members (both tenured and non-tenured track) and staff in the design, implementation, and assessment of engaged student learning models?
  • How are campuses providing professional development in student success practices for faculty and staff in a rapidly changing digital learning environment?
  • What are effective strategies for embedding culturally responsive teaching and cultural competence in faculty and staff development models?
  • Are comprehensive approaches to equity and inclusive excellence resulting in measurable improvements?

Developing and Submitting a Proposal

Proposals are accepted through an online form and must include:

  • Name, title, institution, and email address of each facilitator
  • Session theme and format
  • Conference program text, including:
    • Session title (20 words or less)
    • Participant outcomes (30 words, beginning with "Participants will...")
    • Session description (100 words)
    • Examples of program descriptions are available in the 2014 conference program (PDF).
  • Statement of intended audience (30 word limit)
  • Plan for participant engagement (150 word limit, not required for poster, HEDs Up, or Pecha Kucha proposals)
  • Background and evidence of effectiveness of work being presented (175 word limit)

Proposal Review Criteria

AAC&U strives to offer a balanced, informative, and thought-provoking conference situated within the framework of undergraduate liberal education, and designed to empower and embolden academicians and all campus educators to dramatically impact the quality of undergraduate education in the U.S.  The conference proposal selection committee will include experienced, diverse academic professionals.  In evaluating conference proposals, reviewers will be asked to consider both the technical aspects of the proposal and the way in which the presentation/session will contribute to reframing undergraduate education.  The following elements will be considered in the review of conference proposals:

  • potential for the proposed session/presentation to advance new approaches to making excellence inclusive from a research, theoretical, practical, or institutional change perspective;
  • extent to which the session/presentation offers creative, novel, and transformative mechanisms for promoting and enhancing the quality of learning for all students, with special attention to post traditional populations;
  • extent to which the proposed session/presentation provides evidence of effectiveness and applicability across a range of institution types; and
  • plans to model engaged learning and involve participants in reflection, discussion, exercises, and other activities that will help them understand and apply the material to their work.

Session Formats

Poster (90 minutes; 1-2 presenters; 6’x3’ table)

Posters share visual models of research findings; course, program, curricular/cocurricular designs; concept maps; assessment rubrics and feedback loops; strategic planning frameworks and high-impact practices.  The poster session provides an opportunity to reach a broad audience and initiate conversations with colleagues with similar interests.  Posters are displayed on a 6’x3’ table, which can also be used to display models, a laptop, or other resources for learning. 

Concurrent Session (60 minutes; 2-3 facilitators; rooms set in roundtables; audio visual as available upon request)

Concurrent sessions share current work—in research, theory, or practice—related to the conference themes.  They significantly engage participants in considering how to use this framework to advance change in their own work or campus.  Proposals should explicitly connect to a particular conference theme and use any of the guiding questions (or their own ideas) to frame what the session facilitators will discuss in the session.  Facilitators should provide data/findings related to the topic, effective practices, milestones for success, and strategies for change, and engage participants in reflection and discussion.  Concurrent sessions may be organized either as panel/participant discussions or as an analysis of research protocols and findings.  Exercises adapting these protocols and findings might also be included.  Sessions that model high-impact practices—reflection, discussion, collaboration, hands-on activities—are encouraged.  Please note that the session should be an analysis of effective frameworks, theories, and practices that are adaptable to others – not a show-and-tell of what you did.

HEDs Up (15 minutes; 1-2 presenters; internet and other supports as available upon request)

HEDs Up is a format modeled after “TED Talks” – the Technology, Entertainment, and Design conference that limits each proposed session to a concise presentation. The presentation should focus on an innovative model, pedagogy, practice, rubric, strategy, or “the next big idea” – about diversity, learning, and making excellence inclusive.  HEDs Up presentations should be provocative, challenging, and above all, interesting. AAC&U will combine your talk with two others to create a moderated 60 minute session. Part of each session will be dedicated to participant discussion and questions.

Pecha Kucha (6 minutes; 1 presenter; 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. The Pecha Kucha presentation consists of 20 slides each running for 20 seconds.  The talk 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.http://avoision.com/pechakucha

Facilitated Discussions – Shared Interest Groups (60 minutes; 1 facilitator; room set in roundtables, no audio visual)

Facilitated discussions provide time for colleagues to more deeply examine topics of similar interest through iterative sharing of expertise and experiences. The facilitators briefly set the context for the conversation related to one of the four themes. Contexts may reflect institutional type, position, or a particular area of practice.  Facilitators assist the group in examining new ways of thinking about the topic and strategies for moving forward given the complications of each individual’s professional reality and expertise in the room. This session should allow for questions from all participants to stimulate and focus the conversation so that the issues discussed are meaningful to all involved.

Homepage Session: A Focus on Technology (60 minutes; 1-2 facilitators; room set in roundtables; internet access and other supports as available upon request)

Homepage sessions feature innovative uses of technology and the ways they are being integrated into teaching, learning, scholarship, and information management to advance new approaches to integrating diversity, learning, and student success.Sessions might feature multi-modal designs for programs, courses, and pedagogical practices that support learning in creative ways (i.e., social media and new forms of technology-assisted community based learning) and foster new outcomes (i.e., collaborative discovery across time and place) that might not otherwise occur.  Sessions should describe the technology, including its applications and outcomes, and allow time for participants to question and discuss implications for their own work.

LEAP Featured Sessions

Conference sessions designated as “LEAP Featured Sessions” are intended to highlight the innovative work of colleges and universities that are members of AAC&U’s LEAP Campus Action Network (CAN). Featured Sessions make explicit links between campus-based educational reform and the Essential Learning Outcomes, principles of excellence, and high-impact practices described in AAC&U’s Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) initiative.

Additional Information

The deadline for proposal submission is Monday, September 8, 2014.

Upon submission of a proposal, the 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 e-mail network@aacu.org


The session contact will be notified via email of the decision on the proposal by Friday, October 10.

Expenses and Fees

All session facilitators are responsible for conference registration fees, travel, and hotel expenses. Please be sure that all individuals listed in the proposal have this information and can be available to present throughout the event. Presentation times range from Friday, March 27 through Saturday, March 28 at 12:00 noon.

AAC&U Sponsorship Program

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 is available by writing development@aacu.org.