Conference Focus Areas
“The truth about stories is that's all we are.” (King, 2003 p. 2) Stories are powerful and connect us to our history, our spaces, to one another, and to ourselves. They are medicine, meant to be shared, and provide a grounded telling of experiences that introduce new ways of knowing and being, including navigating and bringing balance back to landscapes.
The 2024 NASPA Annual Conference will be held in Seattle, one of the only major U.S. cities named for an Indigenous leader - Chief Si’ahl, of both the Suquamish and Duwamish Indigenous peoples of what is now known as Washington state. It is only fitting that our NASPA family’s 106th homecoming will center storytelling as a student affairs sensibility.
The 2024 NASPA Conference Leadership Committee invites you to submit sessions that support and facilitate the ongoing development of the story of our profession. Toward this goal, we have developed three focus areas to center submissions:
- Navigating the Opportunities of Uncertainty
- Care in Chaos
- Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging
The specific prompts for each core content area are listed under the questions below.
As you prepare to submit a program, please ensure that you read the prompts in full and select the focus area to which your program relates. Conference proposals will be reviewed and scored based on your responses.
Click on the plus signs below to expand the conference core content areas and view the questions under each area. These are an important part of the program submission, review, and selection process.
Navigating the Opportunities in Uncertainty
Higher education waters can be unpredictable. Sometimes, the waters are calm but often, especially in these last few years, the waters can be very turbulent. As the student affairs profession evolves, we must continue to cultivate environments that challenge and support student success. This evolution can inspire new ways of thinking, doing, and transforming the profession. As student affairs educators, we have a unique perspective to understand and chart uncertain waters and create safer harbors for our students, colleagues, and institutions.
- What does it look like to navigate uncertainty at different levels in a student affairs career, especially when that uncertainty looks and feels different every time?
- In what ways has uncertainty brought about innovation and opportunity?
- In what ways can higher education leaders and supervisors create an environment that inspires innovation, not exhaustion? How does supervision change in an unpredictable environment?
- In times of uncertainty, what does success look like? How do we assess performance - your own and that of others?
- How do we navigate financial uncertainty and risks with unpredictable enrollment, funding sources, or other challenges to higher education?
Care in Chaos
Higher education is often seen as a microcosm of society and our society is constantly changing, shifting, and moving. Chaos can often describe the world in which we work. However, as a profession dedicated to student success, we must learn how to create care in chaos: care for ourselves, our colleagues, our students, our institutions, and ultimately, our profession. We must acknowledge that both internal and external pressures have an impact on how we do our work. And, we must remember that the relational nature of student affairs can be the support we need to sustain ourselves and our students through to success.
- How do we respond to the ever-increasing pace and challenge of the work environment where resources to carry out the work continue to decrease?
- In what ways might we counter the public narrative that “college is not worth it”? How can assessment, research, and evaluation demonstrate the value proposition of student affairs?
- What are effective, high-impact practices that involve the various platforms and approaches to student-care, both online and in-person?
- How do we address collective caring/compassion fatigue? What are ways we can move from deficit-based thinking to a strength-based approach?
- How do we create a culture of care in a time of uncertainty, staffing shortages, and low staff morale?
Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging
Higher education is under scrutiny from stakeholders across the spectrum resulting in legislation that erodes the foundational values of higher education from free speech, tenure, anti-DEI and beyond. This rhetoric impacts the profession both in the United States and abroad. Institutions must acknowledge these challenges. We are accountable to our values and must build relationships of solidarity. Honing our narrative allows us to demonstrate how our work is integral and fundamental to engaging differences, open expression, and belonging.
- How do we continue to build solidarity and infuse justice, equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging throughout higher education?
- How are we maintaining our values in the midst of attacks on the fundamental values of the student affairs profession?
- How do we encourage intentional and authentic collaboration, dialogue, and discourse that includes varying viewpoints to move toward equity and justice?
- How do you navigate the intricacies of power and privilege with individuals that have different levels of knowledge on the issue?
- How does storytelling function as a political act to resist practices and policies that dispirit, objectify, and dehumanize historically oppressed communities on college campuses?
- How does the historical struggle for tribal sovereignty and self-determination in higher education complicate institutional practices of justice, equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging?
Stories promote intergenerational exchanges and, thus, the continuity of knowledge. For historically dehumanized communities, stories are especially powerful because they carry the propensity to disrupt settler-generated narratives about people, places, and relationships. They provide an opportunity to elevate our work, expand our understanding, and a framework from which we can learn. The Conference Leadership Committee looks forward to reviewing your proposals! See you in Seattle!
NASPA Guiding Principles
In addition to the core content above, the Conference Leadership Committee wants to ensure that your programs have a focus on the principles below:
Committed to high moral principles exhibiting authentic, honest, just, and ethical behavior.
Seeking ways to ensure access, voice, acknowledgement, opportunity, and participation at all levels.
Supporting research and scholarship to add to the knowledge base of the profession and ensure that data informs practice.
Continuously seeking improvement through new and creative approaches.