Policies and Guidelines for Annual Conference Presenters

Policies and guidelines may be adjusted throughout the 2024 conference planning process based on updated planning details. ASPA staff will undertake to keep interested parties as informed as possible; please continue to check these details for updates as well.

Please read the below bullet points carefully as they will guide your 2024 Annual Conference participation. Failure to abide by any of these guidelines could result in your not being able to serve as a presenter.

  • All program presenters must register and pay for the conference prior to arriving in Minneapolis.
  • All accepted presenters must provide any edits to their presentation information and/or professional affiliation information no later than February 28, 2024.
  • Participation in the conference program is limited to one presentation per person, regardless of session format (ASPA workshops, panels or Chapter/Section sessions/symposia) to maximize participation across the profession. Individuals may serve as a Moderator or Discussant in other sessions without limitation.
  • Sessions should include no more than five papers/presentations to allow time for audience participation. All panels must have a moderator or convener who is responsible for ensuring panelists are communicating with each other both in advance of the panel taking place as well as throughout any other conference responsibilities associated with the panel.
  • Each presenter must abide by the session time constraints. Opportunity for Q&A will be incorporated into many sessions.
  • Every effort should be made to have a diverse mix of presenters, including demographic diversity and academic and practitioner perspectives.
  • A topic/presenter from a rejected, fully formed panel may be accepted individually and placed within a different panel or session.
  • The conference co-chairs, track reviewers and staff reserve the right to alter, combine and edit proposals as they plan sessions for the conference.
  • Speakers who cancel their participation after accepting a presenter role two consecutive years in a row may be deemed ineligible to participate on future sessions.
  • Concurrent sessions are up to 75 minutes long and may be adjusted as needed by ASPA staff.

Session FAQs:

What type of proposals does ASPA invite?
The 2024 ASPA conference encourages three types of session submissions: fully formed panels, individual papers or topics for session placement, and workshops.

What is a fully formed panel?
This is a proposal submission that includes four to five papers or topics that form a single conference session. It includes a chair and an optional discussant. The convener (individual organizing the proposal) of a panel proposal is responsible for recruiting all of the topics and other components, and planning for the panel execution.

What is a workshop?
This refers to a professional development session that is more relevant to practitioners. Workshops usually feature one or two presenters. The presentation is focused on best practices and functional takeaways for attendees.

What does a strong panel look like?
A strong panel contains four to five papers, a chair and a discussant. The proposal description ties the topics together and clearly indicates how the panel relates to the conference theme and the selected policy and/or cross cutting area. Strong panels include a diverse range of participants taking into account practitioners and scholars; demographic diversity; and research methods and perspectives.

How are individual papers assigned?
Program co-chairs, track reviewers and staff are responsible for finding an appropriate session for an accepted paper proposal. Highly rated individual papers are assigned to a session with other related and commonly themed papers/topics.

What are the descriptions for the various panel roles?
Convener: A convener is an individual responsible for bringing presenters together to address an issue, problem or opportunity. The convener’s primary responsibility is to serve as the organizer and administrator of the collaboration, and to carry out the preliminary and follow-up tasks that ensure the panel proceeds smoothly. The role of convener and moderator are often carried out by the same person, but this is not a requirement.

Moderator: The moderator is responsible for the engagement and timeliness of the panel and ensures the panel is lively and a productive experience for panel members and the audience. The moderator should arrange at least one conference call or online meeting among the panel members prior to the session taking place. During the session, the moderator is responsible for managing the time, ensuring the panel starts on time and each panelist has an equitable share of the available time. The moderator also ensures that the panel engages with Q&A, and that the session ends on time.

Presenter: It is the presenter’s responsibility to communicate the big ideas and rich commentary that is at the core of the issue and/or paper. Under no circumstances should a paper—or its summary—be read to the audience. Rather, the presenter should think carefully about major themes, what members of the audience would find most useful, and how the topic fits into the panel’s overall themes. The audience can always read the paper later; they have selected the panel for a chance to exchange ideas. It is the presenter’s responsibility to present intriguing ideas.

Discussant: The optional discussant is responsible for synthesizing the big ideas and linking them to the topics presented at the panel. The discussant provides insight into each presenter’s value by distilling the central arguments, commenting on the methods, suggesting what implications have the most value, and providing a measure of peer review. After hearing the individual presentations, the discussant should identify—and share with the audience—the common themes that unite them.

Does ASPA collect conference papers?
Presenters must share their paper or presentation materials amongst their panelists no later than one week prior to the session taking place. ASPA also will post any papers authors care to share with all conference attendees to its website. You will receive a request from ASPA staff to supply your paper/presentation; should you wish to provide your documents, please reply in a timely fashion.

Evaluation Criteria

Below is a list of the criteria that is adopted by track reviewers and conference co-chairs when ranking and selecting sessions for the Annual Conference:
  • Relevance to the conference theme and one of the tracks (see considerations below)
  • Quality and depth of attention to topics at the leading edge of public administration issues
  • Scope of the topic and its breadth of audience appeal
  • Relevance to practitioners and scholars in linking theory and practice
  • Practitioner participation in panels
  • Learning objectives identified and applicable to practitioners (workshops)

2024 Conference Theme: Building Resilient Communities
What does building resilient communities mean? We often think of “resilience” as the ability to overcome, grow, adapt and innovate. And, we know that “community resilience” is garnering attention across the public service profession around the globe. But, the definition is complicated, especially given the interconnection of local knowledge, community networks and relationships, governance and leadership, community capital and economic investment, inclusivity, social and economic equity, climate adaptation and environmental justice. ASPA’s 2024 Annual Conference aims to help attendees understand the myriad connections and complex systems involved.

One image that comes to mind is Gumby*, the green claymation character made popular in the 1970s: highly adaptive, bending, twisting and upending around solid objects, always capable of returning to its original form. Current times require creative thinking to build resilience so communities can recover and transform, while maintaining basic functions and identity. The 2024 Annual Conference will provide attendees with the expertise to build “Gumby” communities that can be stretched, shrunk or squished by the forces around them, while also retaining the structural integrity needed to remain whole and thrive.

Most communities have faced intractable problems in recent years and even decades, whether in health, economy, inequity, security or governance. They have needed to twist in unnatural ways and not all of them have settled to their original—or desirable or manageable—form. Some have improved from the experience; others have split into pieces, never to be whole again. Resilient communities are able to withstand the dynamic forces of a global, networked and diverse society. Intractable problems—poverty, environmental crisis, xenophobia, social and economic injustice and the changing nature of work, to name a few—drive a community’s capacity to effectively and equitably govern and serve.

What differentiates in this environment? What makes one community strong enough to withstand crises and bounce back—even bounce back better—while another struggles and suffers, its citizens needing more resources and not being able to cultivate them? Which factors play leading roles and which are tangential? What do communities need to gain to be able to bounce back? What roles must public administration professionals and scholars play in contributing to building resilient communities? How do we nurture relationships across the profession to collaboratively develop resolutions to community challenges?

The 2024 Annual Conference will examine these questions, demonstrating the necessary components of resilience to help all communities become “Gumby” in the years ahead. Six tracks will guide our discussions, all of which will emphasize enduring public administration tasks, plus effectiveness, efficiency, equity and better performance.

*Gumby is trademarked by PREMA Toy Company. References do not imply trademark or copyright.

Discussion: Conference co-chairs and track reviewers pay close attention to the potential for discussion in a proposal. Panel moderators and presenters are reminded that presentations should NOT be read. It is important that engagement is highlighted as a key part of a proposal.

Learning Objectives: Panels and workshops will aim to include interaction. Workshops allow practitioners to learn about practical solutions to contemporary issues encountered in the workplace. They are considered "hands on" sessions that should draw attendees into the discussion and offer useful solutions and applications in the work environment. The goal is to create opportunities for attendees to exchange ideas. Workshops should not solely consist of lectures. Workshop proposals should describe how the presenters will incorporate attendees in the learning process, even if through virtual interactions. They will need to list three measurable learning objectives identifying what attendees can expect to take away from the session.

Number of Sessions: The set number of session slots assigned to a track is decided by the co-chairs in consultation with track reviewers and staff. Program planners are guided by the goal of creating a quality program.