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U. Forward Fest to engage community on research and development for the future

Nassau Hall
Jon Ort / The Daily Princetonian

On Oct. 23 and 24, the University will kick off its first monthly Forward Fest event, featuring high-level administrators and accomplished faculty members who work in innovation, as well as alumni hosts and moderators.

According to a press release, the online series, which will continue throughout the year, “aims to spark dialogue across the global University community … to engage with and explore big ideas and their infinite possibilities for shaping the future.”


The Forward Fest speakers, or “Forward Thinkers,” are drawn from a variety of disciplines. Their presentations will discuss how their research and approaches have pivoted to analyze and address urgent contemporary issues.

The first half of the inaugural Forward Fest will take place on Friday, Oct. 23, at 8:00 p.m. EDT. President Christopher Eisgruber ’83, Provost Deborah Prentice, and a number of other administrators are slated to speak on “what is to come in A Year of Forward Thinking” and how the University community can engage with topics such as public health and bioengineering with an orientation towards the future. 

One of the featured administrators, Dean of Engineering and Applied Science Andrea Goldsmith, wrote in an email to the The Daily Princetonian that she will discuss “plans to significantly grow our engineering faculty and to build a new neighborhood for the school that will foster collaboration within engineering and across all of Princeton.”

“I also plan to discuss our vision to launch interdisciplinary initiatives in bioengineering, quantum computing, robotics, smart cities, and data science,” Goldsmith wrote. “Advances in these topics will enhance health and medicine, spur new computing paradigms, improve the efficiency and robustness of our infrastructure, and mitigate climate change and energy shortages.”

The second day of the event will take place on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. EDT and feature three panels of faculty members on the subjects of public health, social justice, and the U.S. election, respectively.

History professor Kevin Kruse, who will participate in the election panel, said the discussions aim to serve community members in an email to the ‘Prince.’


“Forward Fest was designed to focus attention on the ‘in service’ part of the University’s mission, and the webinar on the 2020 election is designed to be a service to students, faculty, alumni and others who have questions and concerns about this pivotal moment,” Kruse wrote.

Kruse added that he’ll be “providing context about a few key issues people have been talking about these past few months — voting rights and voter suppression, possible reforms to the Electoral College, Congress, and the Supreme Court, and generally how this election compares to past ones.”

Professor of computer science Andrew Appel ’81, another faculty member on the election panel, plans to focus on “the technology of how we vote, and how its inaccuracy, insecurity, and outright hackability can alter the outcome of elections,” he wrote in an email to the ‘Prince.’

“[M]ost (but not all) jurisdictions vote on technology that is accurate and is securable — though not for the reasons you might think — and now we should pay attention to the audits and procedures that would make our voting systems truly secure and trustworthy,” Appel added.

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Forward Fest is part of A Year of Forward Thinking, the University’s recently-announced community engagement campaign.

Forward Fest events are free and open to the public. All programming will be livestreamed on the Forward Fest website and the University’s YouTube channel.