Call For Proposals

The Call for Proposals has CLOSED! We thank all those who have submitted. The committee has completed the hard work of the multi-level evaluation process and notifications have been sent. 

2021 NASPAA Annual Conference | VIRTUAL EXPERIENCE | October 27-29, 2021

Call for Proposals


A year ago, NASPAA issued its call for panel proposals for our 2020 conference, to explore “building a new civic square”-- the place where citizens meet and drive to live a life in community and dialogue, to build a better society. Little did we know within weeks we would be fleeing the civic square, literally in fear of each other, to hunker down, separated from the polis, and connected to each other only by essential workers or via the thin thread of zoom. Group gatherings—the essence of the civic square-- were literally outlawed in countries around the world. Nonetheless, in May, citizens erupted into the civic square, in defiance of the fear and risk of coronavirus, to protest the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, and to demand a renewed commitment to defeating racism and inequality. The civic square in front of the White House then filled with protesters in January, as the transition of power loomed. The civic square was perverted into a caricature of itself, when the US President himself encouraged the citizens gathered there to storm the US Capitol, the symbol of representative democracy, in an attempt to nullify election results. 

So, in just a year, the civic square has been deserted from fear, animated by protest, and desecrated by incitements to insurrection.

Now as we begin to emerge from a pandemic year, NASPAA issues not just a call for panel proposals, but a call to look forward and a moment to contribute. We have navigated our programs in public service education through these months. Now let us gather to discuss what we learned. We are at the threshold of graduating a new generation of students-- hardened in the crucible of loss, isolation, and virtual existence-- into a changed public service. We don’t know what that will be, but we must recognize that the months and years ahead will be a watershed for public service education. We will acknowledge the trauma and loss suffered. We will recognize and repair harm, and we will explore reconciliation and inclusion in this harsh dawn. We will examine the institutions of democratic governance that nearly shattered under pressure, and exhort our students to rebuild them better, and more resilient, than they were. Most of all, we will heal. We will translate what we’ve learned from the past year into new knowledge and resolve. And then we will lead our students, and then our faculty, our universities, and ourselves back into the Civic Square Reimagined.

It is in this spirit we issue this call for proposals. We invite all NASPAA members to look forward and advance your thoughts and ideas for panel proposals that reflect reimagining the civic square… and public service education for the next generation of governance.

Conference Format: CHANGES FOR 2021!

The 2021 NASPAA Annual Conference will be primarily an online experience where you will be able to share, learn, connect, and showcase in a safe and sustainable way. Taking place on our online conference platform (Pathable), attendees will be able to engage with live and prerecorded sessions, visit exhibit booths, search the agenda, and interact with peers, speakers, and sponsors. All presentations through the platform will integrate with Zoom. Most sessions will take place between 11:00 am – 5:00 pm Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) USA on October 28 and 29, 2021.

If some pandemic restrictions are lifted by early September, NASPAA will seek to add in-person components as we are able-- please see format options below.

This conference is an important moment for the NASPAA community and public service education to convene – there are important issues, ideas, and research to discuss.

Format Options:

  • Present your panel live. All panelists and the audience gather virtually.
  • Pre Record your panel and do a live Q and A session for a virtual audience.
  • Convene an in-person panel locally with presenters from 2 or more programs within driving distance of each other, and present live, or prerecorded from a “civic square” in your area.
  • Design and facilitate a charette, a live, collaborative session in which a small informal group drafts a solution to an aspect of reimagining the civic square. See endnotes for details.


Among all the dislocation and distress, the past year has been an extraordinary laboratory for teaching and learning. Between the pandemic, a surging demand for social and racial justice, virtual learning, and stress on democratic institutions and processes, the curriculum and pedagogy are shifting under our feet.  What is changing? What is coming onto syllabi? What are the learning goals? What are you removing? How do we create a thriving and energetic learning environment? How do we facilitate productive discussion in hot moments? Is virtual learning now at the core, rather than the periphery? And, if this is a laboratory, how are the experiments playing out?

The election of 2020 is over, but many of the controversies remain. The events of 2020 ignited a passion and momentum in our students to seek transformational change. Our students are taking initiative and pushing faculty and our programs to do better. Civic engagement is a hallmark of many of our programs, and our contribution to the civic square is not limited to the classroom or to publications. Likewise, NASPAA itself pursued an initiative on election administration and launched a badge in civic engagement for accredited programs to pursue.   How will civic engagement activities change in 2021 and beyond?

As people return to the civic square, how can inclusion efforts drive civic engagement efforts? To meet the current challenges, the new civic square must be more inclusive than what we have seen to date. For many, gaining a space and voice in the old civic square was hard fought. Many more – women, people of color, immigrants, other marginalized communities, and the intersectionalities that result from overlapping identities – have never been welcomed into the square,  and often forcibly excluded from participating and holding power in the governing processes that affect them. How do we aspire toward equity and justice and engage the spirit of transformational change?

The pandemic has been especially difficult for the global community, weakening long-standing relationships among countries and their people. The travel restrictions, anger over different countries' management of the virus, approaches to the development of vaccines and their distribution, and the severe economic dislocations and trade disruptions that have indelibly damaged global relations. Our schools and programs are situated in communities and countries with very different histories and political contexts. The very definition of civic square is quite different around the world. What are some of the common challenges faced by our students and programs around the world, and what are different challenges they face from which we might learn? How do the SDGs, especially SDG16 (See:, look in the wake of the pandemic? Are there local models that provide policy and practice lessons for schools everywhere?

In addition to the four tracks on building the new civic square, the 2021 Annual Meeting will once again provide a special opportunity for panels focusing on the issue of undergraduate education. Many programs have undergraduate offerings, more are adding them, and we seek to accelerate cross-learning about what is working, what the challenges in undergraduate education are, and what NASPAA can do to facilitate the conversation around undergraduate public service education and community need. How do we discuss quality across diverse offerings? Are the undergraduate programs the pipelines to graduate education and public service careers that are needed?

Welcome Teaching Public Administration Conference (TPAC)


NASPAA is pleased to again be co-locating this year with the Section on Public Administration Education (SPAE) of American Society for Public Administration (ASPA)’s Teaching Public Administration Conference (TPAC). We look forward to SPAE members collaborating with NASPAA on issues related to research and teaching, especially in the context of civic engagement and inclusive societies.

Proposal Submission

Proposal options this year include: panels prerecorded or presented live to a virtual audience, in-person regional panels (live or pre-recorded; if conditions allow), or design charettes (please see endnote for how to submit a charette proposal).

Panel sessions will occur during the main conference on Thursday, Oct. 28 and Friday, Oct.29. 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 45 min in duration and should ideally 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, but not required.

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. Please note, 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.

Submitting “an orphan proposal” without a full slate of presenters is discouraged. The committee will try to match an individual to a panel, but most often accepted panels are already full or there is no topical match. If you need help finding potential panelist in your research or desired topic area, please reach out to NASPAA ( or at least a week before the deadline and we will to our best to help connect you with NASPAA colleagues.

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. NASPAA will schedule surveys shortly following panels’ notification of acceptance. Surveys should be ready to be sent, this includes having IRB approval if necessary. NASPAA has a limited window in which to schedule surveys and will not hold survey spots open for surveys still awaiting IRB approval. Researchers collecting primary data and seeking to use the data for a JPAE or other journal submission should secure IRB approval at their home institution prior to starting the data collection.

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

  • NASPAA will again use virtual conference platform, Pathable, which integrates with Zoom for presentations.
  • Format options are:
    1. Present your panel live. All panelists and the audience gather virtually.
    2. Pre Record your panel and do a live Q and A session for a virtual audience.
    3. Convene an in-person panel locally with presenters from 2 or more programs within driving distance of each other, and present live, or prerecorded from a “civic square” in your area.
    4. Design and facilitate a charette, a live, collaborative session in which a small informal group drafts a solution to an aspect of reimagining the civic square. See endnotes for details.
  • Panels are 45 minutes; the full length of presentations should take no more than 30 minutes, with at least 15 minutes reserved for Q and A.
  • If you prerecord your panel, you may give a shorter synopsis at the beginning, then focus the bulk of the time on a Q and A discussion.
  • Each panel should consist of a convener, up to four presenters (including convener if they present), and up to one respondent (optional).
  • The panel convener will manage the panel development process, and then at the conference session, the convener will 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 5 to 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 30 minutes to allow at least 15 minutes for questions from the audience.
  • Panelists should consider alternatives to the usual presentation/response format, including moderated roundtables and other forms of presentation that encourage lively discussion and debate.

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.

NASPAA typically 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 Reimagining the Civic Square 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;
  • Are nonpartisan and examine multiple viewpoints of an issue;
  • Encompass an appropriate volume of information to present in the allotted time, which will facilitate a thoughtful and meaningful discussion;
  • Represent interests of and/or have the explicit endorsement of a NASPAA committee or section; 
  • Reflect originality and relevance.

The conference selection committee will review all submissions and NASPAA will notify the convener of the final status by the end of July 2021.

  1. This year, NASPAA’s call for proposals has a new category in addition to panels and workshops: Design Charettes, hour-long opportunities for a group to come together virtually and design something for public service education— perhaps a co-created course, a curricular framework, a capstone, an advocacy campaign in public service, a marketing campaign for attracting post-Covid students, a hands-on learning idea outline for a teaching case, etc.
  2. Submit a specific design charette proposal to the conference committee for possible selection by the deadline (May 5). You can serve as the convenor AND designer, or submit a second person’s name to be the designer who completes the design or prototype by the end of the charette.
  3. Registrants at the NASPAA conference will have the opportunity to sign up for one or two “design charettes.”
  4. Participation will be capped at 15 (or fewer if the convenor requests), first registered, first served, and there will be no observers. Everybody plays!
  5. At the start of the virtual charette, the convenor writes a goal or a design challenge on the “whiteboard.” For example, “design a course that combines social equity and pandemic management” or “develop an advocacy strategy for reviving public service loan forgiveness.”
  6. Each person sketches his or her own ideas on their own for 5 minutes. Each has just 5 minutes; then all pens down. This is supposed to be fast. People may sketch one or several ideas, until they run out of paper, ink, or inspiration. Each person works alone.
  7. When the 5 minutes are up, each person gets 1 minute (and no more than 1) to show their ideas and explain the reasoning behind them. The group may then ask questions of each sketcher, spending one more minute on each person.
  8. The convenor summarizes each participant’s point on the virtual whiteboard and keeps time consistently.
  9. At the end of the charrette, the designer collects the participants’ main points and comments, and uses the ideas generated to help derive a prototype design.
  10. The design is posted immediately on the conference platform for comments and further exploration.

Submitting Your Proposal


The Call for Proposals has CLOSED! We thank all those who have submitted. The committee will begin the hard work of evaluating and notifications should be sent by the end of June.



Re: your proposal, please contact Leigh Anne Elliott at

Re: technical items with the online submission process, contact Monchaya Wanna at