Proposals and Guidelines

Proposal Submission Links:

Submit a Paper, Poster, Creative Writing, or Digital Storytelling Project Proposal

Submit a Visual Arts Proposal

Submit a Performing Arts Proposal

Submission Deadline: Friday, February 15th, 2019, 11:59 p.m.

Work that is appropriate for Science, Society, and the Arts:

Research or creative work in any discipline is acceptable. The primary purpose of Science, Society, and the Arts is to provide the W&L community a chance to share the fruits of the tough days and long nights devoted to academic endeavors that are usually seen only by a single professor. What is important is that the work demonstrates your independent thinking and serious effort to do quality work.

For example, a senior thesis or capstone project, a law review article, summer research results, or work generated from an independent study project with a faculty advisor are all appropriate for SSA. Students might consider presenting work from a significant term paper, class group projects, or papers from seminars for 2L's. A paper written for a class that could someday be good thesis or law review article would be a great basis for a presentation. Your work does not need to be perfect, if is thoughtful and carefully executed. Conferences are designed to give scholars a chance to share work that is not yet in its most complete form so that you can benefit from exchanging ideas with others who are interested in your area of scholarship.

Painting, sculpture, or photography are great for SSA. Similarly, short story and poetry readings, musical and dramatic performances, a capella and individual pieces are all appropriate for submission to SSA.

Presentations that demonstrate how what you are learning in the classroom can be applied in "real" life are also appropriate for SSA. Think about whether you might be able to make a poster or give a short talk about your work in law clinics, poverty program internships, or as part of other service endeavors.

If you are unsure about whether your work is suitable for presentation, ask a professor for their thoughts on your idea. Remember the main objective of the conference is to create an opportunity to share the best of our intellectual and creative selves. You are likely to have something to share with our community and you will benefit from learning from your peers and other W&L community members.

About Presentations and Their Proposals

Students will be selected to participate in the conference on the basis of presentation proposals they submit. These are short summaries of the work potential presenters have done. Proposals give organizers a means of evaluating how serious presenters are about their work. Proposals also help organizers arrange a conference program in which different types of work are presented at the best times, with the most appropriate and relevant works, and in the best venue. Students don't need to have their work in its final shape at proposal time because there will still be opportunities for changing it before the March 16, 2019 conference. A good rule is that you should be done with all the work for the proposal by Friday, March 8, 2019. Remember that this does not mean that your project is complete (for example, if it is a capstone project due at the end of the term), only that you are giving yourself enough time to present your work well.

Proposal applications will require your contact information and a brief description of the work you wish to present (LESS than 150 words). There are no strict rules about which presentation format is most appropriate for different types of work, so think about what would work best for you.

  • Presentation: Presentation Sessions are typically are comprised of 4-5 students who will give 15 minute talks on their work.  The SSA organizers will do their best to combine your paper or writing with other, thematically similar papers to form one of several sessions.  This style of presentation is good for research, papers, and creative writing and for those who tend to want to have more in-depth discussion with others along a similar theme.  Each presentation should plan to leave a few minutes for the audience or other presenters to ask questions.
  • Poster:  Poster sessions are typically 10-15 presenter(s) in a room for an hour.  Presenters stand by their posters and explain their work to an audience moving freely around a room in which a number of other posters are set up. This style of presentation is good for research projects and papers and for those who want a larger general audience to be exposed to their research and a more interactive experience with their audience.  
  • Digital Story Telling or Video Project:  This year at SSA, SSA organizers will arrange a set time for Producers to talk about their work. During off-times, we are hoping to put Video Projects on continuous play so audience members can come and go as they please. ·      
  • Visual Arts or Performing Arts may also be proposed.  You will be prompted to tell us what your display space needs are or what specifications you need for performance venues.  Please note that there is a 10 minute maximum limit to performances proposed to SSA.     

In general, a good proposal briefly summarizes what the research or creative work you are presenting is about, including a preview of the findings you expect to present. Offer one or two sentences explaining why you think your research question or creative theme is important and to whom you think it would be most significant. For example, here are the sorts of questions a student presenting biology research might want to answer in her proposal: What is the subject of this research? Presumably, biologists would find this work interesting, but specifically why? Would students/scholars from other disciplines find the work helpful for some reason? What, in specific, about the research project do you hope to be able to present at the conference? A poet who seeks to present some of his work might answer the following questions: How many poems will be read? What is nature of the poetic project the author wishes to share? In other words, are the poems linked by a theme? By a technique? Will the author also offer a commentary on the poems? Good presentation proposals can be written in a variety of ways, but the best proposals will always tell the conference organizers what kind of work is being proposed and why the right audience might have something to learn from it.

Poster Presentation Suggestions

Poster sessions involve many people milling around, listening, discussing and learning about the work, while sharing their ideas and experiences with presenters. When designing your poster, aim to catch the interest of persons walking by and focus on clearly showing or explaining the main points of your research clearly and effectively. Posters are very visual and should not just contain text. Consider including interesting images, figures. Make sure your title conveys the main point(s) of your research. You will also need to have a logical flow for the poster that allows it to be read by others without your input. As you practice your presentation, if you find you need a figure then put it in the poster.  See additional poster design guidelines and examples at

Important Dates

  • Deadline to submit all Proposals: Friday, February 15, 2019, 11:59 p.m.
  • Deadline to deliver Visual Art pieces: Friday March 1, 2019, 11:59 p.m.
  • Performing Arts Dress Rehearsal: Thursday, March 14, 2019, 8-11 p.m.
  • Conference: Friday, March 15 (evening) and Saturday, March 16, 2019


Any member of the Washington and Lee University student body (Law and Undergraduate). Faculty and staff may register to attend and/or volunteer for one of many supporting roles for SSA.