Call for Proposals

Proposal Schedule

Submission of Proposals
June 30, 2022
Notification of Acceptance
August 1, 2022
Final Paper Submission
January 31, 2023

Allegheny College invites proposals for scholarly papers reflecting on the college’s affiliation with the United Methodist Church (UMC), at this moment of significant transition for both institutions. Papers will be presented at a symposium at Allegheny College on March 17-18, 2023, then published in an edited volume.

Affiliated since 1833, the two institutions no longer share the close ties they did when many clergy from the Western Pennsylvania United Methodist Conference earned degrees or continuing education credits at Allegheny. As the country has experienced significant social change, the college has moved in a more progressive direction than the surrounding region so that many in the college and the conference have become distant and even suspicious of one another. That distance resulted in a petition from Allegheny faculty and students to the Board of Trustees to disaffiliate from the UMC in light of its restrictions on the full inclusion of LGBTQ+ persons. While awaiting the outcome of the next UMC General Conference, now postponed to 2024, trustees have suspended the college affiliation with the church.

The symposium is not a referendum on affiliation, so papers should not advocate for or against that move. Instead, we seek balanced perspectives from both the college community and the Western PA Conference reflecting on the historic relationship, factors leading to this transitional moment, and thoughts on what a future relationship might look like. Any personal reflections should be framed within a thoughtfully argued, well-supported scholarly paper.

Possible Themes

Possible themes include, but are not limited to:

Identity and Inclusion

  • What are the roots of the divergent paths the two institutions have taken in response to diversity and inclusion, especially around sexuality?
  • How do changes in this relationship mirror trends in the larger U.S. society?
  • How does Allegheny’s identification with a specific Christian denomination affect non-Christian members of the college community?
  • How have stereotypes and misperceptions of each other contributed to distance between the college and the conference?

Past, Present, and Future of the Institutional Relationship

  • How have both institutions benefited from the affiliation in the past?
  • What commonalities brought the college and church together and sustained it for nearly two centuries? How have those changed?
  • How does this relationship fit into the larger story of Methodist higher education?
  • How has the legacy of racism, sexism, heterosexism, and colonialism that marks most American institutions shaped the college, the conference, and their relationship with one another?
  • What underlying factors may have contributed to the college reconsidering its affiliation at this point in time?
  • If a more inclusive church emerges from the 2024 UMC General Conference, how might that influence the college’s decision on affiliation?
  • How would disaffiliation impact future interactions on the local and regional level?
  • What are both institutions trying to hold on to and why?

Structural Issues

  • What shifts in the regional history and economy may have contributed to the distance between the two institutions?
  • How have economic trends impacted both institutions and their relationship?
  • What are the financial implications of affiliation, and how would disaffiliation affect those?
  • How have the informal ties that anchored the institutional relationship altered over time?
  • Where do the global nature of the UMC and the global priorities of the college intersect? Where might they create tension?


Please submit a 400-500 word description of your proposed topic, along with your name, email address, phone number, anticipated technology needs, and your affiliation with the Western PA Conference and/or Allegheny College. Those submitting successful proposals will be invited to write a 2500-word paper for presentation and publication.


Selected paper writers will be compensated $500 upon completion of their presentations. Travel assistance is available for those outside the Meadville area.


  • Submission of Proposals: June 30, 2022
  • Notification of Acceptance: August 1, 2022
  • Final Paper Submission: January 31, 2023

Review Team Members

  • Dr. Courtney Bailey: Associate Professor of Communication and Affiliate Faculty of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Allegheny College
  • Dr. Dara Delgado: Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Allegheny College
  • Rev. Jeffrey B. Little: Pastor of Saegertown United Methodist Church and Chair of the Western PA Conference Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry
  • Rev. Dr. Jane Ellen Nickell: Allegheny Chaplain Emerita, Project Director
  • Rev. Sarah Roncolato, ‘80: Pastor of Stone United Methodist and Bethany United Methodist churches, Meadville

To submit a proposal

  • Submit using our online submission form
  • Write to us at:
    • Jane Ellen Nickell
      Allegheny College
      520 N. Main St.
      Meadville, PA  16335
More Information
For more information, please contact: Jane Ellen Nickell – jnickell@allegheny.edu814-853-5721