ASPA's Annual Conference is the premier event of the profession, taking place each spring as it brings together a cross-section of public administration including public servants, nonprofit professionals, researchers, scholars, students and more. 

Scroll down for more information about the 2024 event, to be held April 12-16 in Minneapolis.

Click here to view archived materials from previous conferences. 


ASPA 2024 Annual Conference: 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. 

We are seeking proposals for sessions, individual papers or topics and workshops that will delve into this theme and its related tracks. These proposals will form the bulk of the sessions presented during the conference and provide attendees with learning objectives throughout the event.

Click the buttons below to learn about the tracks, read our presenter guidelines and review our frequently asked questions for more information.

Conference Co-Chairs: Naim Kapucu (University of Central Florida) and Hillary Knepper (Pace University).

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

The Call for Proposals has closed. We will post more information about the conference to these pages in the coming weeks.