vector graphic with people fitting jigsaw puzzle pieces together to demonstrate collaboration, teamwork and work support for problem solving

The Policy Proposal Summit brings together students, local government professionals, and experts to collaboratively address the complex challenges faced by our communities. Students will connect classroom theory to practice by taking on real-world challenges in real time to achieve skills that will prepare them for their roles as future public service professionals.  Students will engage in critical thinking, creative problem-solving, and policy development to find solutions for wicked problems that transcend traditional boundaries.

This is a great opportunity for graduate students to engage with practitioners, academics, and other graduate students as we collaborate to find ways to improve the quality of life of communities through effective government administration.

Format and Timeline 

  1. Call for Proposals: Students are invited to submit a policy proposal that addresses a specific wicked problem in local government. These proposals should be innovative, evidence-based, and practical. Proposals are due by May 13, 2024, and should be no more than 750 words in length to Selected proposals will be notified by May 31. ICMA will select four proposals to be presented at the conference. Proposal should: 
      1. Define the wicked problem.
      2. Discuss the importance of addressing this problem and the impact it has on the community (affected stakeholders). 
      3. Provide a brief executive summary that engages attendees and demonstrates how your policy solution will address the wicked problem and can be imitated across other communities.
      4. Clearly articulate the implementation to be addressed in the paper/presentation including budgetary/political considerations. 

No more than five students per proposal.

  1. Research and Development: Proposals selected to be presented at the annual conference will conduct research and outreach to policy experts and practitioners in the field. Policy experts and practitioners will provide feedback, facts, identify strengths, and offer constructive suggestions. Participants will refine their proposals, consider alternative approaches, and explore implementation strategies. This encourages cross-disciplinary dialogue and creative thinking. Final proposals and presentations are due August 30
  2. Policy Showcase: Students present their proposals to a wider audience at the annual conference, including policymakers, administrators, and elected officials. The goal is to garner support and generate momentum for actionable change.

Call for Proposals: March 15- May 13, 2024

Research & Development: June 1- August 30, 2024

Policy Showcase: September 21, 2024


What Are Wicked Problems?

Wicked problems are multifaceted, persistent issues that defy straightforward solutions. They exhibit the following characteristics:

  • Pervasiveness: Wicked problems affect multiple aspects of society, spanning professional, organizational, and jurisdictional boundaries.
  • Complexity: These problems have numerous causes and interdependencies, making them difficult to unravel.
  • Intractability: Traditional methods often fall short in solving wicked problems due to their inherent complexity.


  • Housing
  • Food Security
  • Climate
  • Poverty
  • Crime
  • Community Relations


  • Concrete Proposals: The summit generates actionable policy proposals that local governments can implement.
  • Networking and Collaboration: Participants build connections across sectors, fostering ongoing collaboration.
  • Inspiration: The summit inspires students to pursue careers in public service and policy.


Individuals with questions can contact Erika Cooper at


New, Reduced Membership Dues

A new, reduced dues rate is available for CAOs/ACAOs, along with additional discounts for those in smaller communities, has been implemented. Learn more and be sure to join or renew today!