Call for Session Proposals for 2019 VSA Conference
Theme: Ways of Knowing

Deadline: Wednesday, December 5, 2018

How do we know what we know? The story of visitor studies is long and somewhat winding -- and it continues to grow and evolve. Over the years, visitor studies professionals have built a breadth and depth of knowledge around visitors and their experiences, and although our work is generally grounded in the social sciences, we have sought to find meaning in a variety of ways and though a wide range of approaches. From research to evaluation, to facilitation and everything in between, we are tasked with answering questions that are sometimes big and sometimes small. The epistemologies - theories of how we know, and what counts as evidence - that guide us in this work may inform specific institutional strategies, and they may also inspire and inform our field and beyond.

But how do we know what questions to explore, or what questions are worth exploring? Who is responsible for defining and exploring these questions? And how do the ways we each make sense of the world around us shape those decisions?

For this year's Conference, we invite attendees to consider how ways of knowing are expressed in our practice. Some questions we think this Conference theme will allow speakers and presenters to address include the following:

  • How can we conduct studies that honor stakeholders' needs and perspectives while also informing our field's "big" questions?
  • What counts as research, evaluation, or evaluative thinking? What kinds of professional roles and stakeholder relationships do we expect or assume when our work carries those labels? In what ways do we perpetuate bias through the ways we describe our work?
  • How might evaluators and non-evaluator museum practitioners see visitor studies differently, and what can we learn from experiential knowledge that may or may not include systematic investigation?
  • What do we assume about the outer limits of our field? What are the implications of those boundaries in the work we do?
  • How can we better respect and value ways of knowing that differ from dominant cultural lenses, especially when dominant lenses may include the disciplinary traditions that underpin visitor studies? How can the specific approaches of visitor studies be leveraged in support of greater equity among stakeholders?
  • How do the professional competencies we associate with visitor studies reflect specific beliefs and responsibilities about the nature of experience? How does this translate to our efforts in capacity building and career pipelines?
  • How can we acknowledge and reflect our roots as multidisciplinary while continuing to contribute to a cohesive, shared domain or scholarship? How can we build on the foundational knowledge of our field?

 Deadline for Online Submission:
Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Fill out the online form here.

Questions? If you have questions or require additional information, please email the Visitor Studies Association Office ([email protected]). For general questions about the 2019 Visitor Studies Association Conference, visit here.

For your reference, you can find session proposal guidelines here.


December 5, 2018, 11:59pm PST: Deadline for submission

January 2019: Sessions undergo peer review

February 2019: Program Committee finalizes decisions and arranges program schedule (if there are any special presenter circumstances that would impact scheduling, presenters must communicate them by February 1, 2019; requests to change session times after the schedule has been announced cannot be honored.)

Mid-March 2019: Notifications sent to applicants