2021 National Planning Conference

Call for Proposals

Play a Part in Expanding Planning Knowledge

At this time, we are no longer accepting applications to review sessions or session proposal submissions. Please take the opportunity to submit ideas for essential topics or to refer a compelling speaker at the two options below.

The 2021 National Planning Conference will gather progressive leaders to explore critical issues facing the future of the planning profession and the communities we serve. We consider it crucial to include diverse participation and perspectives through the NPC21 program.

We look to offer unique insights, as well as innovative and practical approaches that enable the planning community to anticipate and successfully adapt to the needs of today's rapidly changing world. This includes raising awareness and advancing methods to overcome racism and solutions to create inclusive and equitable communities.

NPC21 will be fully digital, May 5–7, 2021. Due to the ongoing pandemic and COVID-19 public gathering restrictions currently in place in Boston, NPC21 will take place as a virtual event.  

Help us build the NPC21 program through the following opportunities:

Pitch a Session Concept in One of the Sought-After Program Areas
Option 1

Using our identified list of disruptive areas demanding actionable solutions, pitch a session concept and respond to planner needs. Proposal concepts don't require you to present a fully developed session. Instead, we'll ask a few brief questions designed to capture the importance of the issue and the solutions offered.


Pitch a Session in a Critical Area Not Covered in Program Areas List
Option 2

Have a topic that you think is perfect for NPC21 that does not fit within the current program areas? This is your chance to pitch a standard proposal concept on a topic of your choice. Select "other" in the program area option during the questionnaire.





Share an Idea or Topic Area You Want to See at NPC21
Option 3

We want to hear the big ideas of our members! If you have a topic or idea you want us to explore at NPC21, share it with us without needing to prep a full session proposal concept.


Refer a Speaker
Option 4

Know a great speaker or subject matter expert? Share the contact with us! Refer someone you want us to consider for a NPC21 speaker.





Select Sessions for NPC21
Option 5

We need you to help us build our most diverse program yet! Unique perspectives and diverse, new voices are key to building a representative program. Become a proposal reviewer to evaluate and select the sessions for NPC21. The only prerequisite to review sessions is being an APA member.


Additional Details

To guide creativity and innovative content submissions, we've defined the following areas to serve as the foundations of our program content. These are areas of disruption demanding actionable solutions to prepare planners as they implement broad systematic changes.

  • Addressing a legacy of inequality
  • COVID recovery and reinvention
  • Emerging transportation and infrastructure
  • Leveraging rapid technological changes
  • Planning practice innovation
  • Resilient planning in a changing climate

We've also left the door open for additional topics. You can suggest other essential topics at the link above.

Now that we've received the session proposals, they will be reviewed using a scoring rubric advancing the highest ranking for inclusion in the program. For concurrent session proposals, the highest ranking will advance to the next level of collaborative session development including addressing review comments, adding speakers, and submitting a session outline.

Important Dates to Know

Proposals reviewed January 12–February 5, 2021
Notification of session acceptance March 15, 2021
Concurrent session submitters review comments, add speakers, and submit session outlines March 5–March 15, 2021

Call for Proposals FAQ

Who can be a part of the NPC21 program process?

Only American Planning Association members may submit session concepts, refer speakers, suggest program topics, or review sessions for NPC21. Nonmembers are encouraged to join APA and enjoy the benefits of membership in APA's worldwide community of planners.

Join APA

What types of sessions will we see at NPC21?

  • 45-minute Concurrent Session: Designed to encourage planners to lead through the application of planning interventions, new skills, and practices to enact effective, inclusive, and long-lasting change.
  • 15-minute Storytelling Session: A single speaker will tell a story, bringing personal or professional experiences to life, sharing successes and/or failures and what was learned as you transport the audience to that place and time.
  • 5-minute Speed Share Session:  Geared to inspire attendees with a speedy snapshot of the issues affecting the practice of planning. A single speaker quickly shares unique perspectives to enact change in challenging times.

If accepted into the program do I have to register?

Yes, moderators and speakers must register and pay the conference registration fee.

I'm a student. What opportunities do I have to participate in the NPC21 program?

Students are welcome and encouraged to participate in all the NPC21 program opportunities outlined above,. We are also identifying a new system to display students' and emerging professionals' projects, similar to poster displays in the past. Additional information about this will be added no later than March 2021.