Purdue Sesquicentennial - Ideas Festival – Call for Proposals

The centerpiece of Purdue’s 150th Anniversary Celebration during calendar year 2019 will be a set of University-wide conversations focused on some of the broadest, long-term questions facing humanity over the next 150 years. We invite faculty, staff and students to propose topics and speakers for these conversations.

We imagine bringing very high-profile, nationally/internationally known speakers to campus to provide the foundation for day-long events addressing our world’s most pressing long-term issues/opportunities. Our goal is that by the end of this celebration of Purdue’s past, more people around the world will see Purdue as one of the world’s centers of intellectual thought. Please note that no topic is too big or too long-term, and no speaker considered unapproachable for these events.  Beyond a keynote speaker or panel, a day might include discussion sessions and workshops involving faculty, staff and students. Experts from around the world could be candidates to participate in these complementary sessions, but an effort would be made to showcase Purdue expertise and talent whenever possible.

While this is the framework we have in mind, we are certainly open to suggestions on how one or more of these events should be conducted. Proposals for consideration should address topics that cut across our University disciplines, and demand consideration through a variety of scientific, technical, social, political and ethical lenses. The topics should be provocative and stimulate interest and curiosity both on and off campus and should be areas where Purdue has capabilities/experience. Examples might include:

  • Immortality: Can we achieve it? Should we?
  • Artificial intelligence: Where is it taking us and is it worth the risks?
  • Pros and cons of social media for individuals, society and democratic institutions
  • Space: Our next frontier or the source of our demise?
  • Democracy: Wave of the future or historical aberration?
  • China, India, Africa, U.S. ... Whose World in 2120?
  • Our robotic future: Life without work?

The importance of the issue and potential for Purdue engagement in the issue should be clear in the proposal (that said, we do not need extended discussions of the issue in the proposal). Suggested keynote speakers should be included. Proposals should not feel constrained in identifying speakers —financial resources will be available to secure “the” person to address topics chosen. Keynote speakers must be able to reach audiences who are not experts on the issue.

An outline of the day should be included in the proposal — what complementary sessions are suggested, who should be involved, etc. Specifically, how will faculty, staff and especially students from Purdue be involved in the day? Proposals MUST bring a cross-disciplinary approach to the issue, and team proposals are strongly encouraged. Ideas on using digital communications to reach audiences not on campus should be included. Please note that central funds will be invested to cover the cost of the day, and University resources will be made available to support planning and delivery of the event. The teams selected will work with the 150th Anniversary Organizing Committee to refine the proposal and to plan and deliver the day. Proposals in related areas may be combined to take full advantage of Purdue interest/expertise in an area.    

Proposals should not exceed 6 pages in length (1-page summary, 5 pages body of proposal) and should be submitted to Dr. Candiss Vibbert, Office of the Provost, by Friday, March 9, 2018.