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Call For Proposals

Call for proposals extended to May 3, 2023 11:59 PM ET

Panel Proposals for #NASPAA2023

The proposal deadline is Wednesday, May 3, 2023 at 11:59 ET.

Impact, Growth, and Value: Conveying the Importance of Public Service Education

The field of public service education has never been stronger. The number of graduate and undergraduate students pursuing and receiving degrees in public policy, affairs, and administration has steadily increased from around 3500 degrees awarded in the United States in 1990 to nearly 10,000 in 2020. Simultaneously, public policy, affairs, and administration programs have become more institutionalized in universities around the globe: the number of stand-alone colleges, schools, and departments has increased, and many programs have become more organizationally complex, employing a range of staff to perform recruitment and student services, outreach and engagement, philanthropy, and events and communication functions. Finally, as reflected in last year’s conference theme – A Bold and Noble Public Service for All – there is a greater consensus and clarity about the values of public service education, notably a commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and fairness.

Citizens don’t trust their government, and some politicians are listening.

At the same time, public service education has grown, and public support and confidence in public institutions and democracy are at an all-time low. This is true in the United States and many countries worldwide. In the early 1960s, according to the Pew Research Center, about three-quarters of Americans trusted the government and public institutions. In the most recent poll, it is now only a quarter. Alarmingly, according to the OECD, those 18 to 29 years old – the next generation of potential enrollees in our programs – have the lowest levels of trust in government.

Overall, the data chart the long, precipitous decline in support for the public practitioners, organizations, and institutions our field serves. Our experiences over the last five years in the public square — a theme of NASPAA’s annual meeting in 2020 — provide a visceral picture of the public’s outrage with public services, organizations, and institutions. Protests against the police, schools, public health officials, and election administrators are directed at the organizations and practitioners we train and support.

How should the field of public service education respond?

This year’s NASPAA conference will explore how the field of public service education can deliver and convey its value to the public and communities we serve. As a field embedded in the higher education firmament, public affairs is at the center of the proposition that participation in advanced education and training is a pathway to personal growth, community development, and social progress. Our core competency as a field is educating and training current and future generations of public servants, leaders, and citizens. How can we use our more prominent position to reverse the trend of declining faith and trust in public sector institutions and practitioners? While we have grown, we remain a small field – how can we expand our reach by growing the number of students participating in our programs? How can we become more inclusive of the diverse communities we and our students serve? How can we evolve and innovate our curricular offerings to be more responsive to the challenges in the public sector? How can we invest in our large or small programs to make them more effective, nimble, and affordable? Exploring these issues and sharing our experiences will strengthen our community and identify pathways to increase our efficacy, establish our relevance, and prepare our students to reverse the trend of declining faith and trust in public institutions.


Public service education promises that our degree programs will produce the next generation of public servants and leaders, informed by research and lessons from community engagement, to solve today’s problems and prevent tomorrow’s. Across the globe, citizens have lost faith in the public sector institutions and the positions for which we prepare our students. This track examines how we can simultaneously restore trust in the public sector and prepare our students for roles in which they will not always be supported by those they serve.

  • How can departments, schools, and colleges of public service reverse declining faith and trust in public sector institutions and practitioners and demonstrate public affairs programs' positive impact on communities and individuals?
  • What are the primary areas of instruction and knowledge that we must be incorporated into our degree programs to arm students with the tools they need to collaboratively engage the public and positively impact the world?
  • What changes or additions do we need to make to our curricular and co-curricular programs to prepare students for an environment where those they serve often lack faith in their work?

We have grown rapidly as a field but remain small relative to the total number of opportunities in the public sector workforce. Over the years, our primary strategies for growth have been to partner with other disciplines like law through dual graduate degrees, offer undergraduate degrees in addition to graduate professional degrees, and provide instruction online. As many in the public sector workforce approach retirement age and the nature of work changes, this track examines new pathways for growing and expanding public service education.

  • What steps can we take to increase the number of students in our traditional residential graduate degrees and newer online degrees?
  • How can we attract more undergraduate students to the field of public service? Are there routes beyond creating stand-alone undergraduate degrees?
  • What new education and training modalities can we offer to public sector professionals to expand our reach?

The communities that our students serve are increasingly diverse and, in many cases, divided. The NASPAA community has embraced a commitment to equity and justice, equipping our students with the tools to improve political institutions and public service delivery systems to help those who lack access or are disenfranchised. At the same time, we are committed to pursuing the broad public interest in which all community members are included. This track examines how we can embed the values of equity and justice in our programs to unite communities, encourage and embolden our students to engage in civil discourse across differences, and resist the centrifugal forces that perpetuate marginalization and divide us.

  • How can our programs ensure that we do not perpetuate marginalization but instead offer solutions for diversity, equity, and belonging? What steps can we share about best practices for our degree programs?
  • What approaches have worked best in building community across differences in the public sector? What approaches have not worked well? How can our degree programs best prepare students to knit together the frayed social fabric?
  • How can we commit to equity and justice in contexts where these words, and the core values these words represent, have become politicized?

Over the years, public service education has transitioned from a traditional didactic, lecture-based format to include more high-impact teaching and learning practices, such as problem-focused experiential opportunities and human-centered design pedagogy. NASPAA’s annual simulation competition is a primary example of this innovative approach to teaching and learning. As both pre-service and in-service students increasingly engage the world through hybrid and virtual platforms, our ways of teaching need to evolve to meet students where they are. This track will explore innovations and high-impact practices in public service education in our undergraduate and graduate degrees and other curricular offerings.

  • What new approaches have been effective in educating and training public service students? As certificates, badges, and micro-credentials proliferate, how can we incorporate these modalities into our field’s offerings?
  • What challenges have new technologies (e.g., Chat GPT) created for teaching the modern public service student? What new pathways have they opened for education? Given that these technologies will become part of the public sector workforce, how can we most effectively incorporate them into the classroom?
  • How can we integrate more experiential and competency-based learning techniques into our curricular and co-curricular offerings? What strategies can we pursue to provide these opportunities at scale and at a lower cost?

Last year, NASPAA added a track to include the units and functions that support our curricular offerings – student services, information technology, events and community engagement, communication and marketing, advancement, and development. As our programs take on more complex and specialized tasks, these support functions become more important to ensure a high-quality experience for students and the success of our programs. This track will explore how we can invest in the functions that support our programs to make them more effective, nimbler, and affordable.

  • What are essential support functions for the modern-day public service education program? What are promising new practices and approaches in support functions? As the pressures on all units have grown, what steps can be taken to address the burnout and related mental health challenges that many faculty and staff experience?
  • What strategies and approaches can smaller programs take to secure these support functions when they lack the internal resources to build this capacity? Are there promising approaches for securing these functions from other parts of the typical university? Are there opportunities to partner across universities?
  • What areas should NASPAA invest in to support delivering high-quality public service education through comprehensive and smaller programs?

Welcome Teaching Public Administration Conference (TPAC)


NASPAA is pleased to co-locate this year with the Teaching Public Administration Conference 2023 (TPAC 2023). This conference is an annual event hosted by the Section on Public Administration Education (SPAE) of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA). We look forward to SPAE members collaborating with NASPAA on issues related to research and teaching, especially in the context of a bold and noble public service for all. #TPAC2023 #teachingPA

Conference Format

In-Person Format:

The 2023 NASPAA Annual Conference will be delivered using a traditional in-person format. It will be similar to our previous in-person conferences. We will monitor the local COVID-19 data and the mandates that are set by Pittsburgh and we will update all participants on appropriate health and safety measures.


Charrette Option:

This year, we will again have the option for conveners to submit a proposal for a charette. You may design and facilitate a live, collaborative session in which a small informal group drafts a solution to an aspect of “Impact, Growth, and Value: Conveying the Importance of Public Service Education"

Proposal Submission

Panel sessions will occur during the main conference on Thursday, Oct. 12 and Friday, Oct. 13. 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 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. 

  • 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 (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 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 (i.e. showing a video clip).
  • 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 Impact, Growth, and Value: Conveying the Importance of Public Service Education 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 one hour, which will facilitate a thoughtful and meaningful discussion;
  • Represent interests of and/or have the explicit endorsement of a NASPAA committee or section; and 
  • Reflect originality and relevance. 

The conference selection committee will review all submissions and NASPAA will notify the convener of the final status in June 2023.

  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. 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 proposal deadline is Wednesday, April 28, 2023 at 11:59 ET. The conference selection committee will review all submissions and NASPAA will notify the convener of the final status in June 2023. Submissions are made through our online form only. 


Submit your Proposal




Please contact Ja'Nell Henry at