On China trip, U. team to thank donors, host forum on future of city
Continuing its effort to expand its global presence, the University will host its inaugural Princeton-Fung Global Forum — “The Future of the City” — next month in Shanghai, China. The meeting, which will bring together policymakers, scholars, urban planners and journalists from around the world, is the first in a series of annual forums funded by a $10 million donation from trustee William Fung ’70, group chairman of Li & Fung.
The conference, which will take place from Jan. 30 to Feb. 1, will feature a variety of University speakers including University President Shirley Tilghman, Provost Christopher Eisgruber ’83 and a number of Princeton professors. Professors from other international institutions such as Harvard, the University of Hong Kong, Fudan University in Shanghai and King’s College London will also attend.
The Princeton envoy will also travel to Hong Kong as part of the China trip.
According to Tilghman, the annual forums will provide a setting for scholars from around the world to come together and discuss major issues facing today’s world.
“The purpose of [the forum] is to catalyze important conversations that need to happen on a global scale,” Tilghman said.
This year’s conference, “The Future of the City,” will explore the social, technological and climatic challenges plaguing urban communities across the globe.
Fung’s donation, announced last June, was part of the $1.88 billion Aspire capital campaign’s “Citizenship and the World” priority. In addition to funding the global forums, the gift also created the Fung Global Fellows Program, a postdoctoral fellowship program in the social sciences and humanities.
This year’s Shanghai conference will showcase a range of disciplines and academic fields, said history professor and forum director Jeremy Adelman, who organized the conference through the International Council for Teaching and Research. Adelman said guests include filmmakers, architects and economists. In a lecture series titled “Conversations on Urban Film,” New York filmmaker Andrew Jarecki and Mumbai filmmaker Gayan Prackash will address differences in cinematic representations of urban life across cultures. Other talks will explore potential strategies of urban development that optimize economic sustainability and reduce the impact of climate change.
The location of this year’s conference was chosen to complement the theme of the discussions. Adelman noted that while Shanghai will not be the focus of conversation, there will be urban planners and developers from Shanghai and other parts of China there to discuss the “model of the future city from the Chinese perspective.”
“Shanghai is a city that is changing so quickly, in terms of both its population and its architecture, but so are lots of other cities around the world,” Tilghman said. “The purpose of the conference is really to identify what are the major issues that cities are going to be facing in the future and are there common solutions that we can learn from one another.”
Chairman of the Shanghai Alumni Association Ryan Dvorak ’08, who works at a real-estate firm in Shanghai, said that Shanghai is a perfect city for the global forum because it has seen great amounts of economic and infrastructural development over the past few years.
“From an architectural perspective, you hear all the time about how things are built so quickly [in China], and it’s very much true,” Dvorak said. “The amount of time that it takes to design and build a project here is a fraction of the time in the United States,” he noted.
According to Adelman, the University will partner with the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme in Paris to organize next year’s Fung global forum, “The Future of the University.” Adelman said that though Princeton was the only institution involved in planning this year’s conference, he hopes to partner with other peer institutions for future global forums.
The timing of the Fung global forum coincides with the recent formalization of the University’s partnership with the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil. According to Adelman, the initiatives in Asia and South America tie into a broader strategy of enhancing the University’s profile around the world. Adelman will also be traveling to Beijing to make arrangements for the launch of an independent, interuniversity center in Beijing.
“While we work with partners around the world, in the case of China, we have so many partners that what we believe we need is a more independent footprint there,” he said.
The Princeton center will be affiliated with Tsinghua University in Beijing, though no formal partnership like those in Sao Paulo or Tokyo will be established, Adelman said.
During her trip to China, Tilghman said she will also be visiting Hong Kong to thank alumni donors for their contributions to the Aspire campaign. According to Tilghman, the University received a number of “very important gifts” from its alumni communities in Hong Kong, where the University has historically had strong ties.
Tilghman will thank alumni networks in London this February and in major cities across the United States later this spring.
“I’m doing nothing else all spring, practically,” Tilghman said.
Reader Comments (0)
No comments yet. Be the first to post your opinion on this article.