Forward Fest series captures paradigm-shifting research approaches and foundational ideas

Friday, Jul 30, 2021
by University Staff

In September 2020, the University launched A Year of Forward Thinking, an initiative that invited Princetonians and others to join in a conversation focused on responding to the challenges facing the nation and the world. Over the course of A Year of Forward Thinking, which spanned the 2020-21 academic year, faculty and alumni shared their best ideas in a monthly online series reflecting the University's mission to serve humanity. The monthly Forward Fest online conversations were free and open to the public and ran from October 2020 to June 2021.

As part of the Forward Fest conversations, forward-thinking faculty participated in video panels on topics such as bioengineering, artificial intelligence and data science, and the environment. The panel recordings (found below) last between 50 and 90 minutes. Topical resource guides are linked below each video. 

The Forward Fest sessions are also available on the University's YouTube channel. More information on A Year of Forward Thinking can be found at the initiative's website, The list of faculty and alumni contributors to Forward Fest and their bios are also available on the Forward Thinkers page.

Introduction to Forward Fest

October 2020

Forward Fest Kickoff

Forward Fest's Kickoff features President Christopher L. Eisgruber, Provost Deborah Prentice, and other Forward Thinkers.

Public Health, Justice, and Election 2020

October 2020

Thinking Forward: Public Health

In the Public Health session, researchers in a variety of disciplines talk about how their research and approaches have pivoted to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thinking Forward: Justice

In the Justice session, Princeton faculty drawn from a number of disciplines discuss their approaches to analyzing, understanding, and critiquing social policies that play a central role in today’s debates about social justice.

Thinking Forward: Election 2020

In a year when the American electorate questioned the legitimacy and efficacy of the very process of selecting the president and other officials, four professors talk in the Election 2020 session about approaches to understanding and addressing some of the nuts and bolts issues about voting in 2020.

Resource Guide: Public Health, Justice and Election 2020

Artificial Intelligence and Data Science

November 2020

Thinking Forward: Artificial Intelligence and Data Science

In the Artificial Intelligence and Data Science session, professors in a variety of disciplines talk about both the power and potential perils of artificial intelligence and what limitations and safeguards we need to take into account moving forward.

Resource Guide: Artificial Intelligence and Data Science

Arts and Humanities

December 2020

Thinking Forward: Arts and Humanities

In this time of physical distancing, our need to remain connected to one another is one thing that signals our humanity. In the Arts and Humanities session, professors in a variety of disciplines talk about how humanistic inquiry provides a useful lens for thinking about our current times and how reflecting on art and visual culture, music and literature helps us uncover connections that help us think forward new ideas in a variety of domains.

Resource Guide: Arts and Humanities

Equity in Education

January 2021

Thinking Forward: Equity in Education

In the Equity in Education session, faculty members speak this month about how they are working inside classrooms and institutions to help us move toward a more equitable future for this generation and those who will follow.

Resource Guide: Equity in Education

Alumni Forward Thinkers

February 2021

Alumni Forward Thinkers on Resilience

The first Forward Fest session in February highlights the Princetonians who have pursued a wide variety of vocations and activities, faced impediments on their paths, and have mined their resilience (and strengthened that of others) to continue forward.

Alumni Forward Thinkers on Exploration

The second Forward Fest session in February celebrates the inquisitive Princeton spirit, exemplified by tigers who have explored new territory and new ideas—or are in the middle of the hunt—in a variety of fields.

Resource Guide: Alumni Forward Thinkers


March 2021

Thinking Forward: Bioengineering

In the Bioengineering session, faculty members involved in Princeton’s Bioengineering Initiative discuss their groundbreaking interdisciplinary work and the open questions that they continue to think forward for the betterment of society.

Resource Guide: Bioengineering


April 2021

Thinking Forward: Environment

In the Environment session, Princeton faculty discuss how they are tackling the toughest problems related to climate, food and water, biodiversity and energy.

Resource Guide: Environment

Bringing Themes Together

June 2021

In the concluding session, four professors visit the themes discussed over the nine months of Forward Fest and see how they intersect in Princeton’s interdisciplinary ecosystem.

Thinking Forward: Bringing Themes Together

Resource Guide: Bringing Themes Together