Visitor Studies Association

2020 Schedule at a Glance

Tuesday, July 14, 2020
4:30 pm - 6:30 pm 
Registration Open
Wednesday, July 15, 2020
8:00 am - 4:00 pm
Registration Open
8:30 am - 4:30 pm  
VSA Board of Directors Meeting
9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Pre-Conference Workshops
4:30 pm - 5:00 pm
First Time Attendees Happy Hour Welcome 
5:00 pm - 7:00 pm  
Welcome Happy Hour
Thursday, July 16, 2020
8:00 am - 4:00 pm
Registration Open
8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Silent Auction
8:00 am - 9:00 am
Coffee Service
9:00 am - 10:30 am  
Opening Plenary & Keynote
10:30 am - 10:45 am
Coffee Break
10:45 am - 12:00 pm
Concurrent Sessions
12:15 pm - 1:30 pm  
FIG Lunches
1:45 pm - 3:00 pm
Concurrent Sessions
3:00 pm - 3:30 pm
Coffee Break
3:15 pm - 5:00 pm 
Poster Session
6:00 pm - 9:00 pm    
Signature Event
Friday, July 17, 2020
8:30 am - 4:00 pm     
Registration Open 
8:45 am - 3:15 pm     
Silent Auction 
8:45 am - 9:15 am
Coffee Service
9:15 am - 10:30 am
VSA Membership Meeting and Awards Ceremony
10:30 am - 10:45 am 
Coffee Break
10:45 am - 12:00 pm 
Concurrent Sessions
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm 
VSA Committee Meetings
1:45 pm - 3:00 pm     
Concurrent Sessions
3:00 pm - 3:30 pm    
Coffee Break
3:30 pm - 4:45 pm     
Concurrent Sessions
6:00 pm
Dining Discussions
Saturday, July 18, 2020
8:00 am - 9:30 am
VSA Closing Plenary & Breakfast 
9:45 am - 11:00 am
Concurrent Sessions
11:15 am - 12:30 pm
Concurrent Sessions



We need your expertise!

The Visitor Studies Association (VSA) is requesting proposals for workshops to be held in conjunction with the 2020 annual conference. We seek workshop leaders from a broad range of fields to present half-day or full-day sessions that are lively, interactive and offer participants the opportunity to broaden their knowledge and skills in studying or enhancing the experiences of visitors in a wide range of institutions.
With the theme of “Navigating the Politics of Visitors Studies,” this year’s conference explores how we strike the balance between different needs and voices in our work.  The everyday negotiations we face influence how we approach projects and tasks, including planning, data collection, analysis, reporting, and implementation of recommendations.  This theme intends to stretch our thinking to talk about the importance of tradition and change; voices from audiences who both are and are not in our target markets; and what both new and tested best practices look like for the field of Visitor Studies.

What might you offer?

We encourage workshop proposals that explore different facets of building the capacity of professionals in the visitor studies field, specifically in relation to the VSA Professional Competencies and the 2020 theme.  Past participants to VSA conference workshops have enjoyed experiences that were participatory or focused on group dialogue. 

We are looking for proposals exploring:

  • Diversity and/or culturally-relevant research or evaluation

  • Creating and sustaining cross-institutional studies

  • Accessibility in/of research and evaluation

  • Grant writing

  • Evaluation tools and methods


Please consider offering half-day workshops, or structure full-day workshops into two half-day workshops, one with a “101” beginner focus and the other with an intermediate/advanced “301” focus. Splitting workshop topics into beginner and intermediate/advanced will widen your workshop’s appeal by allowing professionals to attend the entire day or choose the half that is most appropriate to their skill level and needs. 

Submissions are now closed.

Workshop leaders will receive:

  • 6-hour workshops – One complimentary conference registration. 

  • 3-hour workshops – 50% discount on one conference registration. 

  • If there are multiple workshop presenters, only one person receives a discount or you can choose to split the discount between two presenters.

Proposal Review Process:  

  • Reviewers will evaluate each proposal they receive according to the criteria listed below. 

  • Workshop Chairs may return or reject proposals without review if the proposals do not address all required information.

Proposal reviewers will use the following criteria to provide feedback on each proposal. A summary of strengths and weaknesses and, where appropriate, suggestions for improvements will be sent with your acceptance notification.

  • Clarity of ideas: The proposal is well-written, well-organized, and easy-to-understand.

  • Learning objectives: The proposal outlines useful learning objectives that are realistic within the workshop format.

  • VSA Professional Development Competencies: The proposal describes how the workshop will address one or more VSA Professional Development Competencies.

  • Relevance: The proposal touches on issues that are important to potential VSA conference attendees and will likely attract an audience.

  • Workshop design: The proposed workshop design/curriculum uses a variety of teaching and/or learning techniques that are engaging, educational, and fun.

  • Qualifications of workshop leader(s): The workshop leader(s) are well qualified to conduct their proposed workshop, demonstrated through their training, academic background, and/or professional experience.

  • Cultural sensitivity: The workshop acknowledges and addresses diverse audiences, and is useful for professionals from a wide range of institutions.

Notification Process:

  • Workshop proposals will receive an email notification with decision letters in early March 2020. The letters will include the date and time the workshop has been scheduled.


Questions?  If you have questions or require additional information, please e-mail the VSA Office at [email protected]



Call for Session Proposals

32nd Annual Visitor Studies Association Conference

Omaha, NE   • July 15-18, 2020

Navigating the Politics of Visitor Studies

As people who work with and advocate for visitors, we wear many hats and are responsible for hearing and responding to a range of audiences. We are often negotiating competing needs, trying to challenge the dominant ways of doing things while also adhering to our field’s standards for rigor and accuracy. How do we responsibly use our expertise to represent the diverse voices of current and potential audiences while also serving the specific needs of internal stakeholders? How do we create positive and productive social change and provide space for the joint construction of ideas, compromise, and collaboration?

Building on last year’s theme “Ways of Knowing,” this year we invite attendees to consider how they negotiate different epistemologies and stakeholder needs in their day-to-day work. We know that this negotiation is part of every step of the evaluation process, from research design to data collection to analysis, synthesis, dissemination, and application of findings. Some questions we think this conference will allow speakers and presenters to address include the following:

  • How do we balance the unique needs of visitors with the diverse perspectives of stakeholders? How do we ensure that our work is representative of all voices?
  • What are the recurring issues we need to constantly negotiate? How do the values that guide our work help us navigate these issues?
  • How do we productively “rock the boat” to advocate for change?
  • How do we build space for shared authority and collaborative storytelling while maintaining and exercising our expertise?
  • How do we ensure that the interpretation and dissemination of data is meeting the needs of all audiences? How do we effectively and creatively demonstrate the value of our work and encourage use? 
  • How do we represent people in an accurate way in our data? What does accurate mean and who gets to decide?
  • How can we approach negotiations differently and creatively? When are traditional methods appropriate and where do they fall short when working with a diverse group of stakeholders? 

 Evaluation Criteria

Proposals will be rated on the following criteria:

The proposal provides a clear picture of what to expect during the session, including how presenters will elicit dialogue with the audience about project relevance and implications.

The proposed learning objectives are realistic and achievable.

The proposal should represent diverse perspectives.

The proposal demonstrates presenters’ knowledge of and experience with the topic, including relevant methodologies, sources of evidence, and/or literature.

The proposal highlights specific findings and conclusions and their relevance to the visitor studies/informal learning field.

All presenters should be confirmed by date of submission.

Submissions are now closed.


December 16, 2019 11:59 pm PST: Deadline for Submission

January 2020: Sessions undergo peer review

February 2020: Program Committee finalizes decisions and arranges program schedule (If there are any special presenter circumstances that would impact scheduling, presenters should list them in the submission form) 

Mid-March 2020: Notifications sent to applicants 


Questions?  If you have questions or require additional information, please e-mail the VSA Office at [email protected]