Shepard Symposium Proposal Submission
We invite you to participate in the 22nd Annual Shepard Symposium on Social Justice, Courageous Conversations: Breaking Silences, Transforming Hate, Resisting Violence.

The mission of the Symposium is to promote transformative learning and engagement in the pursuit of justice. Each year, we bring together leading voices in social justice — scholars, students, community members, activists, artists, and filmmakers — to support an inclusive dialogue addressing issues of social and environmental justice in interpersonal, community, and structural contexts.

Against a backdrop of increasingly divisive public discourse, it is more important than ever that our universities promote spaces to discuss difficult, challenging, sometimes urgent topics of social justice. This year, the symposium will engage with the broad topic: “Courageous Conversations: .” Marking twenty years since Matthew Shepard's brutal murder in Laramie, the Shepard Symposium will host Judy and Dennis Shepard, and feature their tireless and courageous work against all forms of hate and hate crimes, as well as their tremendous contributions toward building communities of support for LGBTQI youth and families as Matthew Shepard’s legacy.

In the spirit of courageous conversations exemplified by the Shepards, we invite proposals that engage with the social justice work of breaking silences, transforming hate, and resisting violence. In this contemporary moment, we are witnessing increasingly divisive and intolerant public discourse, as well as targeted violence against marginalized groups; at the same time, courageous voices from across our society are speaking out against these forces, and exposing long hidden damaging secrets. We invite the people and communities who experience violence, those on the front lines who break silences to combat aggression, and scholars and storytellers who work to uncover and transform injustices to participate in the symposium. Through the theme of courageous conversations, we also invite participants to think critically and creatively about the changing face of dialogue around social justice. We ask attendees and presenters alike to consider who and what causes are worthy of the “social justice” label; and we encourage all to engage with each other in ways that challenge our judgments and assumptions about what kinds and methods of social justice advocacy are effective.

We welcome proposals that push the boundaries of traditionally accepted conversations of social justice. The symposium has featured scholarship from all disciplines, and welcomes participation from community members, artists, students, and anyone with a compelling story to tell. We are continuing our commitment to foster dialogue in our sessions, and will have collaborative communication facilitators available to support sessions designed for engaged conversations.

Sustainability & Accessibility: The Shepard Symposium is committed to environmental sustainability, and continues to strive for Zero Waste. A Zero Waste Event is one in which as much "trash" as possible is diverted from landfills and incinerators. Please help us in this endeavor by considering the environment in your presentation plans. Accessibility remains an integral part of our justice programming, so presenters will be asked to design presentations with maximum accessibility in mind. In this spirit, presenters will be asked to provide content early, and guidelines for universal design will be provided. More information about these initiatives can be found on our website:

Important notes about the Symposium:
~ Submissions will be accepted through February 16, 2018.
~ You will be notified on the status of your proposal by February 27, 2018.
~ All submissions are evaluated by a blind, peer-review process.
~ We do not offer honorariums or stipends for travel.
~ Registration for the Symposium and lunch on Thursday, Friday and Saturday are free.
~ Confirmation and any requests for changes in the schedule will need to be reported by March 4, 2018.

For more information, contact Christi Boggs at or Michelle Jarman at

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