Call for Proposals: 2016 Annual Meeting


Monday, July 27
AAC&U is no longer accepting proposals for the 2016 Annual Meeting.  If you have questions about your proposal, please contact us at Thank you for your interest in AAC&U's Annual Meeting.


Description of the Meeting
Conference Themes
Information to Include
E-Portfolio Forum
Session Formats
Interactive Sessions
Writing a Strong Proposal
How to Submit a Proposal
Final Reminders
Dates to Remember
If You Have Questions

AAC&U invites proposals of substantive, interactive sessions that will raise provocative questions, engage participants in consideration of evidence of “what works,” and create and encourage dialogue—before, during, and after the conference itself.

About the Annual Meeting
At AAC&U’s 2016 Annual Meeting, participants will focus on higher education’s most pressing educational challenges—those centered on the intersections of equity and quality. 

  • How can higher education provide equitable access to high-quality liberal education to all students?
  • How do we, as a community, advance equity-minded practices that provide a liberating educational experience for New Majority students who have been previously underserved and less engaged with high-impact practices and clear learning pathways?
  • How do we ensure that all students are prepared for work and life in a turbulent and globally connected environment?
  • What is higher education’s role in reversing the deepening divides and disparities in our society?

Responding to the changing economic and social landscape in America and the world and the need to better prepare our increasingly diverse student populations for success locally and globally, the 2016 Annual Meeting will foster discussion and encourage action to address the deepening disparities that endanger America’s economic and democratic future. The gaps are widening despite America's promise of universal educational opportunity, and the inequities challenge American ideals.  America’s future vitality is at stake, and higher education must play a critical role to remedy these imbalances.

The meeting will offer equity frameworks and tools to guide the development of institutional structures and practices that expand access to high-quality, liberal education grounded in high-impact practices and inquiry-based learning. Sessions will focus on evidence-based practices that support broad student success and deep, engaged liberal learning.  The meeting will highlight innovative ways to provide students with clear guided pathways and meaningful learning opportunities to prepare them to tackle complex global problems in the workplace and society.  Our goal is tap the wisdom of those already working creatively to provide an empowering education—rather than deliberately limited opportunity—to those New Majority students who rightly see higher learning as their best hope for a better future.

The Annual Meeting will share lessons learned from colleges and universities that are:

  • Acting with a sense of urgency to provide equitable access to quality education for all students
  • Developing guided pathways to support students educationally and socio-culturally from first to final year and across transfers
  • Implementing evidence-based educational practices that support student success at all levels
  • Preparing students with a sound liberal education to address the workplace and global challenges identified by employers
  • Integrating global learning and civic engagement into the general education curriculum in a meaningful way to prepare students to address unscripted questions prior to entering the globalized workforce
  • Scaling practices “that work” to increase student persistence and achievement in STEM fields
  • Building effective integrative and interdisciplinary curricular pathways for the humanities and social sciences
  • Using digital and connected learning in meaningful ways to ensure inclusive excellence and expand student participation in high impact educational practices
  • Creating successful institutional models where students from all backgrounds are finding academic and professional success
  • Building educationally generative alliances with employers and policy leaders.


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

Scaling Evidence-Based Student Success Interventions

With a New Majority of students in higher education—students from traditionally underserved groups—colleges, community colleges, and universities are incorporating innovations in high-quality liberal education to support both deeper learning and increased degree attainment. Campuses are making the case for liberal learning for all students, and institutions are incorporating high-impact practices as part of the undergraduate experience.  Global learning also is being integrated across the disciplines to provide experiences with real world problem solving. 

  • How are institutions scaling up successful interventions to ensure more students have the opportunity to participate?
  • How are institutions expanding and strengthening participation in all high-impact educational practices?
  • What is the role of diverse faculties in the successful interventions to ensure students engage in today's full range of perspectives and issues?
  • How are colleges, universities, and community colleges working to support the persistence and achievement of new majority students?

Promoting Comprehensive Institutional Models that Braid Quality and Equity Together

Institutions have found success in expanding access to quality education through liberal learning to greater numbers of students. Their practices are bringing down systemic barriers to educational success and provide models for institutional change.

  • How are campuses using the frameworks provided by LEAP, the Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP/Tuning), and the Essential Learning Outcomes (ELOs) to articulate disciplinary knowledge and skills as well as interdisciplinary engagement with complex, real-world challenges?
  • What are we learning from the evolving role of community colleges and their tighter alignment with four-year institutions?
  • How are institutions finding ways to integrate high-impact educational practices and make them affordable for the institution and the students?
  • How are campuses collaborating to facilitate student transfer of learning from one institution to another to assure student success?

Connecting General Education with Students’ Questions and Societys Needs

General Education is the part of the curriculum where the vast majority of students should have a shared liberal education experience. It must be guided by clear pathways that are intentional and utilized across the institution.

  • How is general education being redesigned to provide students with clear, high-impact, practice-rich pathways from the first year to the final year, across two- and four-year institutions?
  • How does general education set the stage for in-depth exploration and integrated learning within and outside the major?
  • How have faculty members—across disciplines or outside traditional institutions—been engaged in restructuring and rethinking general education?
  • How is general education preparing students to become effective citizens and lifelong learners?
  • What changes are needed now that many students do part of their general education in high school?
  • How are competency-based programs affecting the redesign of general education programs?

Leveraging Technology to Increase Student Success with Liberal Learning Outcomes

Digital learning has emerged as an integrative tool for liberal learning. From digital tools to broader digital learning environments, students have the potential to engage in real world, unscripted problem solving in local and global environments.  Equity-minded digital learning also has the potential to provide quality learning opportunities for new majority students. The conference also will explore research in what works—and what does not work— in digital practices for first generation learners. 

  • How are digital practices best used in general education and first-year experiences?
  • How are digital practices reshaping higher education? How is learning transformed through digital learning?
  • How are high-impact educational practices being incorporated into digital and virtual learning environments?
  • How are faculty members being prepared to use digital learning to promote excellence for all students?
  • How is digital learning increasing opportunities for global learning and the incorporation of diverse perspectives across the disciplines?
  • What digital practices are not good choices for students?

Influencing Campus and Public Policy Affecting Liberal Education, Quality, and Student Success

Public policy dialogues often ignore the importance of liberal education outcomes for first generation and underserved students.  We need clear communication to the public and policymakers about both equity and quality learning and state, federal, and campus policies that are aligned with a vision for quality and that can advance the expansion liberal education, the integration of high-impact practices into the curriculum, and the development of more meaningful forms of assessment and accountability. 

  • What policies stand in the way of campus and state system efforts to make excellence inclusive?
  • How might newly proposed state and federal policies (e.g. new ratings systems, new accreditation policies) facilitate or harm efforts to improve student learning and increase college completion rates?
  • Are new approaches to assessment influencing state level accountability mandates?
  • How have state policies advanced expansion of access to high-impact educational practices?
  • How are higher education leaders and practitioners working effectively with K-12 partners to better align outcomes and assessment approaches—and smooth the pathway from K-12 to college success?
  • How can higher education develop a new commitment to the equity/equality imperative for working adults who see little point  in distribution courses?How can the best evidence-based educational practice drive the development of wise policies rather than policies impeding the spread of best practices?

Integrating Global Learning and Civic Engagement across the Curriculum

Global learning and civic engagement provide students with real world experiences where they must tackle unscripted problems that prepare them for life in the local community as well as the global community.  These types of educational opportunities are rooted in liberal education and have become more valuable than ever before in equipping students to address the problems they will face following graduation, as well as providing them with the knowledge and skills to be active and engaged participants in the democratic process.

  • What does it mean to engage democratically in the educational experience?
  • How are global experiences at home and abroad related to the development of civic learning and social responsibility?  To science literacy?
  • How is democratic engagement being integrated into global learning throughout the general education curriculum?
  • How are cross-disciplinary knowledge, cultural and global literacy, and civic engagement being promoted across diverse disciplines, including STEM, career, and professional fields?
  • How are global learning and civic engagement promoting understanding of diverse communities at home and abroad?
  • How are multicultural and global literacies being integrated in the general education curriculum?
  • How are students demonstrating their ability to effectively and actively participate in civic and economic life?


Proposal Abstract (400 words)
The abstract should describe the content and significance of the session (or roundtable), 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 (150 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.”


In addition to proposals for the Annual Meeting proper for presentation on Thursday or Friday, we are seeking proposals for the E-Portfolio Forum, which will be all day on Saturday.  You can indicate on the Proposal Submission Form if you are interested in presenting within the Annual Meeting or during the E-Portfolio Forum only.


The AAC&U audience continues to appreciate—and request—shorter sessions.  We strongly encourage presentations that are crisp, current, and creative.

All sessions will be 30, 60, or 75 minutes in length.   (HEDs Up sessions will include five 10-minute presentations within a 75-minute session.)

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.”  HEDs Up presentations are limited to 10 minutes.  The presentation should focus on an innovative project or program, compelling research, or “lessons learned.”   HEDs Up presentations should be provocative, challenging, and, above all, interesting.   (Bonus points for being entertaining, as well.)   One moderated 75-minute session will consist of five presentations to ensure that the session is lively and moves quickly to the next speaker.   It is especially important in this format that no papers be read.

The following formats can be presented in 30-, 60-, or 75-minute time slots.

Seminar Session
Seminar Sessions are small group discussions limited to 25 participants—and very popular with the AAC&U audience—on topics actively discussed and debated within higher education today.  The Seminar Leader (s) will facilitate discussion and provide opening statements and/or provocative questions to open the discussion. 

E-Portfolio Session
E-Portfolio sessions should include a demonstration and/or links to student or institutional work, if possible.  We encourage proposals on e-portfolios for inclusion in the Annual Meeting (on Thursday and Friday) and/or for the E-Portfolio Forum on Saturday, January 23.

Digital Learning and Emerging Technologies
Digital learning presentations will focus on curricular models or innovative programs that use new technologies to enhance teaching and learning.

Panel Presentation
This is a traditional format with presentation(s) followed by discussion among the speakers and with the audience.

Research Session
Research sessions present findings, works in progress, or new methodologies pertaining to the meeting themes.

Discussion Session
The primary focus of these sessions is discussion with or among audience members.

Roundtable Discussions
Roundtable discussions will provide opportunities for participants to share strategies and successful examples of academic and institutional leadership at all levels.  These are informal discussions, and participants will be welcome to rotate among several discussions or focus on one. 


Annual Meeting participants will have Internet access available 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.

We encourage you to post your PowerPoints and Handouts prior to the Annual Meeting so participants can access this information before, during, and after your presentation.

If you have links to such materials at this time, please provide the URL address with your proposal. 


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.
  • 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.  Speakers that read papers will not be accepted for future presentations.
  • 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.
  • 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 30-minute session or 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:
Please submit your proposal electronically as directed on the form. If you need assistance, please contact Suzanne Hyers at or call 202-387-3760.

Please submit your proposal on or before Wednesday, July 22, 2015.

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 7 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 30, 2015, 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 15, 2015.


  • 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 co-presenters about the proposal’s status and the need for all presenters to register and pay fees.

Dates to Remember:

July 22, 2015
Proposals due to AAC&U

September 15, 2015
Registration materials available online

September 30, 2015
Acceptance (or rejection) of proposals sent to all Contact Persons

If You Have Questions or Need Additional Information

Please do not hesitate to contact us at or to call AAC&U at 202-387-3760. Thank you for your interest in AAC&U's 2016 Annual Meeting.