2019 Conference Call for Proposals

The 2019 International Town & Gown Association's City & University Relations Conference ™️​
Hosted by The Pennsylvania State University and State College, Pennsylvania

Collaborate/Adapt/Change: Evolving Together to Grow a Thriving Community 

Attention: Due to the Polar Vortex, the Call for Proposal deadline has been extended to February 15.  
Background and Invitation to Present
The Pennsylvania State University and the Borough of State College are excited to host the 2019 ITGA City & University Relations Conference, May 19 to 22, 2019. We are seeking interactive and innovative proposals on topics that provide insight into the evolving nature of the work of universities, government entities, and other community partners.
The conference theme is “Collaborate/Adapt/Change: Evolving Together to Grow a Thriving Community.” The Pennsylvania State University and State College Borough have lived the theme in recent years, as we have collaborated to create an entrepreneurship ecosystem to drive economic development, changed our approach to fraternity and sorority life, and adapted to moderate the underage and dangerous drinking that impacts our community.
The conference tracks are designed to reflect the broad range of issues and stakeholders involved in growing a thriving community, while encouraging exploration of the complex, nuanced, and ever-changing challenges our communities face.

Presentation Topic Areas

Track 1: Fabulous Flops: Sharing innovations and lessons learned when those innovations go wrong and the adaptive strategies used to find success  

Some of the strongest and most innovative projects and programs started out as failed attempts. There are significant lessons imbedded in those disappointing starts, and the process of iteration that led to either scrapping the idea, or refining it into a success. Have a project that tanked? Measurables that didn’t measure up? An organization that went rogue? This track can highlight any aspect of town or gown, or town/gown partnership, and focuses on sharing practical problems (and solutions!).

Track 2: Fraternity and Sorority Life-It’s Complicated: Current trends, community effects, and unintended impacts of fraternity and sorority life reform

Following several high-profile fraternity deaths across the country, a December 2017 US News and World Reports headline asks “Is Greek Life Worth Saving?” Both town and gown know the question is far more complex. This track explores elements of fraternity and sorority life reform, such as online scorecards, expanded University control, increased accountability, delayed recruitment, and social limitations. It dives into the complexities of those reforms, such as the rich traditions that influence what happens today, the roles that international headquarters, governing bodies, and alumni play, and, the consequences of groups that continue activities while suspended or as unaffiliated organizations. It allows for the exploration of town/gown partnerships with positive utilization of these groups, as well as the challenges that have to be worked on collaboratively to support off campus neighborhoods.  Lastly, explore town and gown policies that provide the infrastructure for success.
Track 3: Telling Your Town Gown Story When You Hit the National News: Public safety, emergency management, crisis management, and public relations in the era of social media and the short news cycle

This track allows colleagues in emergency management, law enforcement, city planners, university public relations and other fields to discuss emerging trends, environmental and social factors, risk and resiliency. Sessions could include current events such as the impact of controversial speakers on campus, immigration impacts, experiences in adapting to our environments, using social media to enhance institutional reputation, leading practices across the world, town/gown partnerships, and designing and planning for the future.

Track 4: Dissecting the Impacts of Alcohol And Other Drugs In Our Communities: Strategies for reducing harm and negative community impacts in a changing environment

This track covers town and gown efforts, both individually and collaboratively, to reduce dangerous and underage drinking, and to promote responsible alcohol service. It allows colleagues to explore efforts and impacts related to large group and high impact events like tailgating and large-scale, social media-driven party events. Topics can include the impacts of perception and known realities of alcohol and drug use, including the opioid crisis, marijuana legalization, proliferation of synthetic drugs, and ‘dirty’ drugs.  It explores effective efforts aimed at reducing harm, changes in ordinances or town gown practices, and cross-collaborative opportunities.

Track 5: Elevating Social Justice and Civility to Enhance Our Environments: Diversity, inclusion & beyond in communities and on campus  

From amplifying and increasing the understanding of injustice to enhancing the visibility and voice of marginalized groups to create civil spaces, this track explores the ways communities and town/gown collaborations elevate social justice initiatives, to include efforts that address injustices rooted in ideological, cultural, religious, gender based or other differences by addressing individual and systemic practices. Programs and initiatives may include policies, ways communities have promoted civility, created safer spaces, encouraged authentic dialogue, celebrated diversity and inclusion, reshaped perceptions about an imbedded stereotype of inequality, or exposed injustice. Ideas and actions shared in this track will expand our views and highlight steps in the journey to lasting change. 

Track 6: Enhancing Quality of Life in Our Towns Through Sustainable Planning and Efforts: Collaborations that fuel economic, fiscal, environmental, and/or social sustainability  

While sessions under this track can explore traditional environmental sustainability efforts that protect and enhance natural resources, these sessions also explore economic, fiscal, and social sustainability efforts that build resilient communities. How are towns and gowns collaborating to provide access to necessary goods and cost-effective services? What steps is your community taking to meet the needs of all residents in an equitable manner? How is your university or municipality taking financial responsibility? Share your experiences!

Mobile Sessions
Conference attendees from the State College community are invited to submit proposals for mobile sessions on the afternoons of Sunday, May 19, Monday, May 20, Tuesday, May 21 and Wednesday, May 22. Mobile sessions offer participants the ability to leave the conference site for unique interactive experiences. Each mobile session will be scheduled for no more than three hours. Transportation and any other costs are the responsibility of the presenters in coordination with the Host Committee. Mobile sessions will be submitted, evaluated and accepted on the same basis as other proposals for concurrent sessions and should address learning objectives and outcomes. These are not meant to be merely campus and/or community tours. Proposals should include a logistics timeline indicating travel time to and from the conference site. Mobile session topics must fit into one of the six tracks. *If you are unsure what track your proposed classroom or mobile style session would align with best, please feel free to contact Kelly Ann Mroz at kxs171@psu.edu.

Suggested Guidelines for a Successful Session

Representative of multiple organizations
Sessions should be representative of town and gown relations, so it is important to include both university and community stakeholder perspectives.
Telling your story
Many times we focus on the “what” without exploring the “how.” We encourage you to share challenges and how you overcame these, as well as any lessons learned throughout the process.
Show your data
Research, data and program evaluation are part of many processes and we are interested to understand this part of your experience. Make sure to share any data/metrics you have, as well as how that has informed your work.
Make it a conversation
Conference presenters can sometimes fall into the routine of lecture-style and/or tour-like presentations that are not always the most engaging for attendees. We want this conference to be an exchange of information, so we encourage you to develop your classroom and/or mobile style session as interactive and conversational as possible.
Submission Requirements
  • Title of innovation or solution
  • Name of contact person, contact information and names of co-presenters
  • Speaker bio (75 words or less)
  • Track # 
  • Include student enrollment size and population of community
  • Description of the format and outline of the content and key messages
  • Abstract in 75 words describing your program session (to be used in the conference program)
  • Learning outcomes
  • Indicate whether this is a mobile session
Presentation Information and Important Dates
  • Time: Sessions are limited to a total of 60 minutes, keeping into account the desire for interactive sessions encouraging attendee participation.  
  • Technology: Rooms are equipped with audio/visual capabilities-projector screens and/or flat screen TVs; and adaptors to connect to any kind of laptop/mobile device. 
  • Proposal Submission Deadlines: You must submit your proposal on or before FridayFebruary 15, 2019.
  • Authors notified of selection: You will be notified on or before March 15, 2019 regarding the status of your proposal.