Ideas Festival

The centerpiece of Purdue’s Giant Leaps Sesquicentennial Campaign will be an Ideas Festival that connects world-renowned speakers and Purdue expertise in a conversation on the most critical problems and opportunities facing our world. Cross-disciplinary discussions and events aligned with the four Giant Leaps themes will run the course of the entire year, from Homecoming 2018 to Homecoming 2019. The discourse will be achieved and curated by interdisciplinary teams that will prepare recommendations to guide Purdue’s next 150 years.

Co-chaired by Christine Ladisch, former dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences, and Mark Lundstrom, the Don and Carol Scifres Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the organizational structure of the festival is driven by theme committees that will review proposals/opportunities and strive to elevate the activities of faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members.


Giant Leaps In Space: Earth, Exploration, Economics

The future of life on Earth and the challenges of expanding into our solar and stellar neighborhood can yield high economic, social and scientific rewards if we mitigate the risk and meet the technological challenges. Can we reach beyond our solar neighborhood? Is a self-sustaining space economy emerging to support this frontier? Can the geopolitical regulations for safety and access be built on the Outer Space Treaty?

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Giant Leaps In Artificial Intelligence, Algorithms & Automation: Balancing Humanity And Technology

Innovations in digitization, machine learning, robotics and artificial intelligence are profoundly reshaping every aspect of life. While these advances hold tremendous promise to help tackle critical issues such as poverty and disease, they are also likely to introduce new concerns such as automation of jobs, cyberwarfare and tyrannical social engineering. Will we control tomorrow’s machines, or will they control us? Finding the right balance between humanity and technology will be critical.

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Giant Leaps Toward a Sustainable Economy & Planet: Innovate Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow

In the last 200 years, our population has grown from 1 billion to 7.6 billion and is projected to be nearly 10 billion by 2050. We will need to adapt to meet the rising demand for food, water and energy. At the same time, rapid, exponential advances in science and technology continue to revolutionize how we live, think and work. Can technology, innovation and the marketplace converge to continue to generate economic growth areas in the global economy? Can humankind create a future in which the demands for food, energy, clean water, climate change adaptation and mitigation, biodiversity, and poverty reduction are reconciled?

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Giant Leaps In Health, Longevity & Quality Of Life

Recent advances in genomics technologies have ushered in a new era of biomedical research to assess, detect, prevent and treat diseases while optimizing the quality of life over the life course. Discussions around this topic will examine evidence-based methods to prevent and cure disease. Scientific frontiers to enable longer and higher-quality human life — including genomic medicine and neurogenesis in later life as well as behavior change, robotics and community development — will be addressed.

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