Policies and guidelines may be adjusted throughout the 2021 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.

Policies and Guidelines for Annual Conference Presenters

Please read the below bullet points carefully as they will guide your 2021 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.
  • Payment for panels being pre-recorded must occur before the recording will take place.
    • Panels will be recorded all at once; presenters cannot be added in—or removed—after the recording has taken place.
  • Payment for presenters on live panels must occur by March 31, 2021.
  • All accepted presenters must send any edits to their presentation information and/or professional affiliation information prior to their recording.
  • Participation in the conference program is limited to one presentation per person, regardless of session format (ASPA workshops, panels or Chapter/Section sessions) to maximize participation across the profession. Individuals may also serve as a Moderator, Discussant or Coauthor for another session (or sessions) without limitation.
  • Panel sessions should include no more than four 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.
  • 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 60 minutes long and may be adjusted as needed by ASPA staff.

Session FAQs:

What type of proposals does ASPA invite?
The 2021 ASPA conference encourages three types of session submissions: fully formed panels, individual papers or topics for panel placement, and workshops.

What is a fully formed panel?
This is a proposal submission that includes four papers or topics that form a single conference panel session. It includes a panel 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 papers, a chair and a discussant. The panel 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 (either by recording or live broadcast). 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 (either via recording or live broadcast). ASPA also will post any papers authors care to share with all conference attendees to its website and/or digital conference platform. 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.

What presentation technology must I use?
All presenters will utilize PowerPoint to prepare and display presentations. You must have a computer with a webcam and microphone, and a strong internet connection. ASPA urges all conference participants to ensure that use of this technology does not interrupt or delay a session. With no more than 60 minutes for virtual sessions, even a minor delay can greatly hamper the success of a session. Presenting authors will be responsible for screensharing and advancing their slides.

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)

2021 Conference Theme: Picking Up the Pieces: Pandemics, Protests and the Future of Public Service
It’s time to restore the integrity of our republic and institutions abroad. Recent months have provided the public sector around the world with serious crises to solve and tested our abilities to do so: COVID-19, protests against social injustices and economic decline have all become top priorities. Meanwhile, long-standing challenges like climate change, transportation, infrastructure, water quality and global unrest have continued to simmer, requiring attention with much more limited resources. What does our future look like and how do we begin to recover and work toward a post-COVID-19 world? ASPA’s 2021 Annual Conference will delve into the most pressing topics affecting our profession and provide space for new solutions.

Simmering under COVID-19, the Black Lives Matter movement and the myriad administrative burdens both have uncovered is a recognition of the fact that the systems that undergird our nation—health care, transit and transportation, budgeting and finance, the social safety net, environmental protections, education and more—are in serious disrepair, no longer working for all members of our society. There are serious administrative limitations and burdens placed on the most vulnerable in our society, constraining them from reaching their fullest potential, and limiting our country’s potential as a result. Recovering from a year of pandemics and protests means evaluating these underlying systems and, instead of finding band-aids, envisioning new ways to support our society. Examining strategies international communities and regions have effectively employed can inform the American experience and offer new approaches to ensure success.

The 2021 Annual Conference will convene scholars, practitioners and students from around the world to look at the big problems we’re all facing and the systems in which they operate, while working toward a future that is more equitable for all. Our call for proposals is for an online conference, enabling participants to contribute to this important conversation from any location, eliminating travel concerns for those who are unable to join us in person and ensuring we have as many diverse voices as possible to contribute to this conversation. Detailed track descriptions are below, including sub-categories to guide your submission. Please review each description and think carefully about where your proposal fits best. Many topics featured in prior conferences—human resources, public safety, emergency management, public administration theory, legal and ethical frameworks, the environment, ethics and technology—are critical to this dialogue and are incorporated.

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.