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Top Conferences for Public Administration Professionals

Public administrators use their political acumen to help societies adapt to an inconstant sociopolitical landscape by effectively managing government systems and institutions to coordinate political reform. Professional conferences—such as the Action Learning, Action Research Association (ALARA) World Congress that was hosted at Norwich University in June 2018—provide individuals with opportunities to expand their knowledge of public administration through interaction with fellow government policymakers and civil servants who can provide constructive advice based on cumulative wisdom, unique perspectives, and ideas that have been developed and tested via real-world experience with global initiatives.

ASPA Annual Conference

The American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) provides public administrators with valuable opportunities in networking and professional development; presenters and organizers focus on elevating public administration as a profession by instructing attendees how to improve personal accountability and uphold socially equitable professional standards for public service. The 2018 ASPA conference was held in Denver, Colorado, from March 9 – 13.

Coinciding with the conference theme—Mission Focused and Service First: Creating Innovative Solutions—presenters highlighted their research through educational workshops and demonstrations that focused on ten different learning tracks, each demonstrating alternative methods by which public administrators can identify new innovative solutions to urgent problems within their communities. This annual event is designed to help attendees hone their ability to effectively lead organizations in the areas of disaster management, government finance, military policy, civic engagement, and human resource management.

Northeast Conference on Public Administration

From November 3 – 5, 2017, The University of Vermont hosted the annual Northeast Conference on Public Administration on its campus in Burlington, Vermont. The title of the event was Public Administration, Policy and Community Development: Managing a Changing Landscape, and it invited public administrators to discuss pivotal topics related to the field, such as intergovernmental relationships, public-private partnerships, and political and cultural trends. Through papers, panels, and formal presentations, attendees had the opportunity to enhance their expertise by exploring various ways that they can influence their communities, especially during times of social, political, or economic change. Topics of focus during the conference included:

  • Changing Landscapes in Local Communities – Presenters addressed the building blocks of positive change within a community, with a focus on methods of developing, educating, and advancing the workforce of local government in order to address important civic efforts. Examples of community efforts included the policing of emerging local communities, redefining the foundation of the local education system, and the identification of local issues through interacting with community members.
  • Using Partnerships to Address Community Problems – This presentation explored the impact of public administration professionals acting as a collective to solve pressing community issues, such as a lack of affordable housing, the stalled development of local businesses and the impact of epidemic drug use among the local population. Tackling such issues demands a collaborative, multi-layered response from both government leaders and members of the affected communities.
  • Managing Communities for Resilience – Through a combination of workshops and presentations, presenters expanded upon cutting-edge techniques for building a sustainable government that can provide for the long- and short-term needs of a community. Attendees also learned how to build favorable food distribution systems; adapt government management structures to changing environments; develop effective emergency and disaster management policies; and provide water and energy resource management.
  • Communities as Complex Adaptive Systems – Through presentations, workshops and discussions, attendees enhanced their knowledge regarding the role of modern technology in empowering public administrators to adapt to complex circumstances; topics included how to incorporate social media into governance; the application of game theory to the public administration process; and how to use theories of political science to increase the effectiveness of public administration.

The Public Leadership Education Network Seminars

The Public Leadership Education Network is a national organization whose mission is to provide scholarly knowledge and experiential learning opportunities to women in an effort to enhance their impact, presence, and potential as adept leaders in public administration. As part of this mission, the organization facilitates various events that are designed to encourage and motivate women to achieve their goals, as well as provide opportunities for networking with female colleagues who have worked at the highest levels of public administration—including federal agencies, the judicial system and the U.S. Congress. Offerings include:

  • Women in Global Policy Seminar – The Women in Global Policy seminar will take place from May 14 – May 18, 2018, and feature detailed sessions on international policymaking and how women play a vital role in determining the scope and aim of international diplomatic efforts. Experienced industry professionals and international policymakers will also provide insight into how they advanced their careers in public administration.
  • Women, Law, and Legal Advocacy Seminar – This seminar took place from October 19 – October 21, 2017, in Washington D.C. and highlighted the intersection between careers in law and policymaking. Women who are interested in the legal aspects of the policymaking process gained access to a wide range of knowledge regarding issue-based advocacy and government service. The lawyers and public administrators who conducted this seminar tackle policy issues on a daily basis, and are dedicated to facilitating valuable networking opportunities that help women connect with thought-leaders and influencers in public administration and legal advocacy.

Annual Conference of the International Leadership Association

The International Leadership Association’s annual conference gives public administrators from across the world the opportunity to participate in discussions that highlight how effective leaders guide their communities. The 2017 conference was held from October 12 – 15 in Brussels, Belgium and explored the role that governmental and administrative turbulence plays in the current global landscape. The event provided attendees the chance to enhance their knowledge and widen their perspective as to how instability is combatted in modern governments and what those governments can do to fortify efficiency in their administrations.

Prior to the conference, workshops allowed attendees to explore ideas related to the institution of new approaches to administration and governance in a bid to help solve the causes of civic disturbances throughout the world. The workshops were a unique opportunity to gain new insights, as they featured speakers that include top executives in business; celebrated government administrators; and highly effective leaders of nonprofit organizations, such as the former Prime Minister of Belgium, Herman Van Rompuy; Director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, David Petraeus; and CEO of Royal Dutch Shell, Jeroen van der Veer.

Owing to the nature of government itself and the fluid dynamics that drive changes in civic populations, public administration is an ever-changing field. In order to enhance their knowledge to effectively lead communities and organizations, public administrators must continue to utilize learning opportunities such as professional conferences that convey new knowledge and forward-thinking innovations that can help advance the discipline of public administration as a whole.

Learn More

As the nation’s oldest private military college, Norwich University has been a leader in innovative education since 1819. Through its online programs, Norwich delivers relevant and applicable curricula that allow its students to make a positive impact on their places of work and their communities.

Norwich University’s online Master of Public Administration program is a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary program that helps produce graduates with the skills needed to effectively manage a demanding and evolving industry. Our rigorous curriculum helps provide you with an all-inclusive study of organizational management concepts, decision-making processes, strategic planning, and fiscal management.

Recommended Readings
6 Elements of Public Administration
Financial Manager Career Outlook


Northeast Conference on Public Administration, NECOPA

Leadership in Turbulent Times 19th Annual Global Conference, International Leadership Association (ILA)

Women in Global Policy, Preparing women to Lead (PLEN)

Women, Law, and Legal Advocacy, Preparing Women to Lead (PLEN)

ASPA Annual Conference, American Society for Public Administration (ASPA)

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