Call for Proposals

Diversity, Learning and Student Success

Shifting Paradigms and Challenging Mindsets

March 17-19, 2016

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Deadline for proposal submission:  Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Association of American Colleges and Universities invites proposals that showcase evidence-based practices that reflect any of the themes below, and that can be adapted readily to a wide range of institutional types, including community colleges and minority-serving institutions.

Please note that all session facilitators are responsible for conference registration fees, travel, and hotel expenses.  Presentation times range from Friday, March 18 at 7:30 a.m. through Saturday, March 19 at 11:00 a.m., and presenters are expected to be available at the time they are scheduled by the conference organizers.

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

Conference Themes

The specific themes to be addressed in this meeting are:

  1. Challenging Mindsets to Advance Diversity, High-Quality Learning, and Student Success
  2. Shifting Paradigms Across the Curriculum 
  3. Emerging Innovations and the Campus Experience
  4. Developing Guided Learning Pathways to Enhance Student Success

Please choose which of the themes below best represent the work that you would like to discuss at the conference.  Use this theme to focus the content of your proposal.  

1. Challenging Mindsets to Advance Diversity, High- Quality Learning, and Student Success

  • What does current research say about the importance of diversity in high-quality learning experiences?  How can these data be communicated to reveal complexities and advocate for new ways of thinking about diversity and learning?
  • How can story-telling and personal narratives deepen understanding of the connections between diversity, high-quality learning, and student success?
  • How are campus practitioners creating campus climates and opportunities for engaging in "courageous conversations" about implicit biases and preconceived notions about student learning and success? 
  • How are campuses developing the cultural competence of faculty, staff, and students in order to advance significant change for diversity, high-quality learning and student success?
  • How can all campus sectors work both individually and collaboratively to share information, responsibility, and agency for challenging existing mindsets?

2. Shifting Paradigms across the Curriculum

  • What new scholarship can provide theoretical foundations for and strategic approaches to advancing inclusion and tolerance?  How can new theories and strategies for cultural and organizational change inform action plans to shift to student-centered and asset-based campus climates for high-quality teaching and learning for all students?
  • How can we develop teaching and learning strategies that value students' own cultural contexts and support engagement with cultural diversity?
  • What are asset-based approaches for exploring the intersectionality of multiple student identities and for developing effective teaching approaches?
  • How can we create a culturally responsive curriculum and/or co-curriculum that values students' cultural capital and that responds to current issues related to diversity, both in national and global contexts?
  • How are campuses scaffolding active and collaborative learning opportunities across the curriculum that promote signature work on diversity issues—work where a student can use her or his cumulative learning to pursue a significant project related to a problem she or he defines?

3. Emerging Innovations and the Campus Experience

  • How do you ensure that all students, especially underserved students, are receiving the appropriate amount of challenge and support to ensure their success, without fostering marginalization?
  • What are specific approaches for working with and supporting the success of target student groups such as LBTGIA students, students of color, veterans, and people with disabilities?
  • How can campuses utilize digital innovations for creating productive spaces for students, faculty, and/or staff to apply knowledge to interdisciplinary problem-solving and to build the capacity of students to work in diverse settings?
  • How can we support sustainability of diversity operations and community in the face of pressures that dictate change?  How can promotion, tenure, and reward systems advance and support student-centered, asset-based paradigms for teaching and learning?

4. Developing Guided Learning Pathways to Enhance Student Success

  • How are campuses collecting and disaggregating data about student learning and high-impact practices?  How are practitioners using that data to develop intentional guided learning pathways for students that include diverse perspectives and demonstrated achievement of learning outcomes?
  • What are promising models for designing problem- and community-based learning experiences that promote personal and social responsibility?
  • How are campus practitioners working together across campus sectors (such as departments, student affairs, advising, admissions, information technology, and libraries) to design intentional, scaffolded learning pathways, from cornerstone to capstone, that will ensure each student progresses to achieve her/his educational aspirations?
  • How is assessment being used to better understand students and student learning, and to help students achieve the outcomes required within each course and program?  How is assessment being used and shared across campus sectors to design and continually improve guided learning pathways that ensure success for all students?   
  • What kinds of programs and opportunities are campuses offering to faculty to learn about and plan for developing guided learning pathways that explore diverse perspectives and promote student and faculty engagement with problem-based learning? How are campuses supporting and rewarding faculty innovation and leadership for this 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.

For more information on applying to have your conference session designated as a LEAP Featured Session, visit

Session Formats

Please select the format that will best enable you to effectively engage conference participants with learning about and considering how to adapt your research, theories, strategies, and promising practices to their own campus work and culture. 

Poster Sessions (90 minutes; 1-2 presenters; 6'x3' table with 4' x 3' table top bi-fold poster board)

Posters share visual models of campus specific approaches to connecting diversity and high-quality learning to advance student success.  They might focus on a particular equity-minded framework; student-centered/asset-based learning paradigm; topic/problem; strategic planning framework; concept map; assessment rubric and feedback loops; or high-impact practices.  Posters that include evidence of success and resources for participants will be given priority. Posters are displayed on a 4' x 3' poster board that stands on a 6'x3' table. 

Problem Solving Sessions (75 minutes each; 2-4 facilitators; rooms set in roundtables; audio visual as available upon request)

Problem-solving sessions should identify a topic and problematize it as a way to foster discussion and develop a plan of action.  Proposals using this format should:  1) describe the problem; 2) offer a call to action (to address the problem); and 3) provide a method (such as concept mapping, promising practices, or other tools) to engage participants in examining a topic of mutual interest and applying knowledge from a variety of perspectives to solve the problem. Participants may be organized in small discussion groups according to institution type and to mix junior with senior faculty and other campus practitioners to gain a full range of perspectives and to foster inclusive problem-solving practices.  Sessions that model high-impact practices—reflection, discussion, collaboration, hands-on activities—will be given priority.  Please note that the session should be an inclusive discussion with problem-solving exercises that advance actions adaptable to others – not a show-and-tell of what you did.

Strategic Planning Sessions (75 minutes each; 2-4 facilitators; rooms set in roundtables; audio visual as available upon request)

Strategic planning sessions should examine and bridge research, theory, and practice to advance evidence-based plans of action.  Proposals using this format should: 1) provide research findings related to one of the conference themes; 2) examine critical theory that provides scholarly grounding emanating from this evidence; and 3) engage participants in considering how the findings and theories might be used to advance change on their campus. Facilitators should provide data/findings related to the topic and engage participants in reflection, discussion, and strategic planning. Sessions that model high-impact practices—reflection, discussion, collaboration, hands-on activities—will be given priority.  Please note that the session should be an analysis of theories, strategies, and practices that are adaptable to others – not a show-and-tell of what you did.

Developing and Submitting a Proposal

Proposals are accepted through an online format and must include:

  • Name, title, institution, discipline and email address of each facilitator
  • Session theme to be addressed and format (HYPERLINKS)
  • Session title (100 character limit including spaces)
  • Anticipated participant learning outcomes (30 word limit)
  • Statement of intended audience (50 word limit)
  • Background and evidence of effectiveness of work being presented (250 word limit)
  • Plan for participant engagement (150 word limit, not required for poster or HEDs Up proposals)
  • Brief description to explain what your session will address if accepted (this description will be used in final conference program - 150 words) 

Proposal Review Criteria

AAC&U strives to offer a balanced, informative and thought provoking conference that best fits within the framework of fostering and supporting diverse and inclusive campus cultures that place high-quality learning and success for all students at the center.  The conference proposal selection committee will include experienced, diverse campus practitioners.  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 advancing paradigm and campus culture shifts to focus on diversity, high-quality learning, equity, and student success in undergraduate education.  The following elements will be considered in the review of conference proposals:

  • the potential for the proposed session/presentation to connect theory with practice to advance knowledge and understanding of diversity, inclusion, and high-quality learning/paradigm shifts in undergraduate education
  • the extent to which the session/presentation offers creative, novel and transformative mechanisms and faculty/student affairs educators development for enhancing inclusive excellence
  • the ease by which conference session/presentation materials and outcomes can be adapted to a wide range of institution types

Additional Information

The deadline for proposal submission is Wednesday, August 19, 2015.

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 Melissa Gray at


The session contact will be notified via email of the decision on the proposal by early September.

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 18, at 7:30 a.m. through Saturday, March 19 at 11:00 a.m.

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