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Deadline: Wednesday, April 19, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. ET

THEME: Confidence in Public and Nonprofit Institutions:
How is it Built, How is it Lost, and How is it Regained?

How Well Do Our Curricula Prepare Graduates to Promote Trust in Institutions?

Our curricula have long dealt at least obliquely, often directly, with the trust in public and nonprofit institutions. Ethics, transparency, the transmission of public service values: all of these are part and parcel of every accredited graduate program. But are they enough? The decline in public confidence in institutions has roughly paralleled the rise in professional education for public service. Have we gotten something fundamentally wrong? In an era of division - by race, urbanicity, geography more broadly, class, etc. - do we need to address those divisions directly in order to heal them and build trust? In this track, we seek panels examining the possible impact of our curricula on trust. We also seek proposals that project different or more robust practices to prepare graduates to build trust among the constituencies that they will serve throughout their professional careers.

Achieving SDG16 through Public Affairs Education:
Transparency, Accountability and Ethics in Global Public and Nonprofit Governance

While trust and confidence in public institutions depends on the capacity of public servants to act accountably and ethically, they also depend vitally on the health of civil society, which is nurtured by institutions and practices often far removed from government. The need for transparency, honesty, and robust civil societies across the globe is recognized in the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, and particularly in SDG 16. We seek panels with representatives of organizations concerned with sustainable development, and get their advice on what public affairs schools need to do with respect to curriculum, teaching, learning, research, and service to build the capacity for governance asked for in SDG 16? (Please see
Goal2016AdvocacyToolkit.pdf for further information on this goal, also noting that NASPAA's interest in sustainable development for this conference is at every level of governance, not just global discussion.) We also seek panels that address specific aspects of SDG 16 in the MPA/MPP curriculum: promoting inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice, building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions; plus increasing transparency, reducing corruption and promoting ethical action.

Building Public Trust through Responsible Policy Communications

Public trust in institutions depends in part on receiving accurate and credible information from and about government and nonprofit organizations. Government in particular must get better at identifying and publicizing the successes in services and programs. Academics should be better advocates of their research in cases where their work can inform and shape public policy for the better. Policy communication overall, from any institutional perspective, is critical. We seek panels examining how our public affairs programs can train graduates to have the skills to transparently evaluate the impact of government actions and programs and then communicate those assessments to the public. Open data, open government initiatives, and data standards may figure into this track as well. Do we teach our students how to defend attacks on government? Should they counterattack? With what? Is it enough to publish data and evidence? How do they make it matter? In an era of "alternative facts," should we be teaching defensive epistemology? In addition to panels examining pedagogical responses, we seek submissions explaining the rapidly changing environments (e.g., new media, new political movements, etc.) in which our graduates will work.

Recruiting the Next Generation to Public Service in a Changing World

Waning trust in public institutions could well have an impact on our member institutions' enrollment. What can we do to engage young people with our mission? Is the answer to diversify the range of institutions for which we prepare future leadership (e.g., nonprofits and NGOs in addition to government, social impact institutions of all stripes, socially responsible for-profit enterprises, etc.) and if so, does that require a different curricular mix from what we offer today? Can we leverage civic engagement initiatives to cull a broader range of applicants? To what extent do the "digital natives" who will soon become the entirety of our student populations require different subjects and pedagogies than their predecessors? Just as social, economic, racial, ethnic, and geographic divides have an impact on trust, do they have an impact on recruitment? Here we seek panels looking at the differences in growth in first professional education for public service across the globe, exploring new value propositions and national variations in experience.

Submitting Your Proposal

A fully-formed panel consists of a convener, 3-4 confirmed speakers, and a well-developed topic of discussion. When submitting a panel for consideration, you should explore the implications of the track themes and what they mean for public service education. Panel proposals are welcome in any format, including, but not limited to, conventional presentations, roundtable discussions, a presentation with respondents, and panel discussions. Conference sessions will be one hour in duration and should have no more than four presenters to allow for the audience to engage in a thoughtful and meaningful discussion of the topic.

Before proposing a panel, you are encouraged to contact peers at other institutions and examine carefully how these ideas are being developed in the classroom, in program administration, in community relations and in research. Reaching out to relevant NASPAA committees and/or sections for input and formal endorsement is also encouraged.

While the basis for your panel proposal may be a published paper, your proposal should examine the implications of your research and include discussion of opposing viewpoints. Conference panel proposals should not be manuscript abstracts. Proposals should present an idea and describe how all sides of the idea will be discussed. Proposals that present variety across types, sizes, foci, or geographic location of programs will receive preference. Proposals should include presenters from at least 2 different institutions.

Proposals may be submitted without a full slate of presenters, and if possible it will be combined with similar panels, if possible, to create a full panel, or they may not be accepted. In order to accept as many presenters as possible, the conference planning committee may ask you to be flexible in your presenters, or they may suggest substitute presenters.

If you would like NASPAA to send out a survey to gather information from NASPAA members for your panel, please indicate that in your proposal. A limited number of surveys will be sent to NASPAA members and requests for surveys will be considered on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Panel Logistics
• Panels are one hour in length; the full length of presentations should take no more than 45 minutes, with at least 15 minutes reserved for a question and answer period.
• Each panel should consist of a convener, up to four presenters, and up to one respondent. Co-presenters for a single slot are discouraged and you will be unable to enter them into the submission form.
• The panel convener will manage the panel development process, open the panel by framing the discussion, and moderate the Q&A period.
• If the convener would like to make a presentation, he/she should only invite three additional presenters.
• Each presenter will have no more than 10 minutes to share ideas and commentary. It is essential for the panel convener to manage presentations to ensure ample time for discussion at the end of the presentations.
• If a respondent is added to the panel, he/she will not make a presentation but will instead offer summary comments on the panelists’ presentations. The respondent’s comments should be within the 45 minutes to allow at least 15 minutes for questions from the audience.
• All presentation rooms will be set up theater style with PowerPoint presentation technology. A limited number of rooms will be available with audio capability; please indicate in your proposal if you will need audio technology.
• Panelists should consider alternatives to the usual presentation/response format, including moderated roundtables and other forms of presentation that encourage lively discussion and debate.

Presenter limits:
To maximize the overall number of presenters, the Conference Planning Committee will continue the NASPAA practice of following the Rule of Two: limiting presenter participation to two sessions during the main conference. This includes roles as convener, presenter, and/or respondent, but each session only counts once. This rule does not apply to the following types of sessions: meetings, plenaries, workshops, and the Accreditation Institute.

Proposal Selection:
NASPAA receives more than 200 excellent proposal submissions for each Annual Conference, so please understand that selecting panels is a difficult and highly selective process. As such, quality rather than quantity is always best when submitting proposals. We much prefer to receive your best ideas rather than every idea you might have. Preference will be given to panels that address the theme of Confidence in Public and Nonprofit Institutions: How is it Built, How is it Lost, and How is it Regained? and which:
• Address at least one of the conference tracks;
• Include panel participants which represent the diversity of NASPAA institutions;
• Will allow for discussion and analysis of current topics;
• Have representation from at least two schools, and ideally, from two or more countries;
• Involve practitioners, students, or other stakeholders;
• Include a full slate of presenters;
• Report on experiences with collaborative work across programs, stakeholders, and/or countries;
• Encompass an appropriate volume of information to present in one hour, which will facilitate a thoughtful and meaningful discussion;
• Represent the interests of and/or have the explicit endorsement of at least two sections or committees of NASPAA
• Reflect originality and relevance.

Panel proposals require clear and concise titles, succinct and persuasive descriptions, links to at least one conference track and/or the overall conference theme, and well-thought-out learning objectives.

All proposals for panels must be submitted by the session convener by 11:59 pm on Wednesday April 19, 2017 for consideration.

Questions regarding the proposal, please contact Leigh Anne Elliott at


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