This January, Princeton University will host the first of a series of annual meetings of the world's foremost thinkers to discuss major issues confronting the planet. With a generous gift from William Fung, group chairman of Li & Fung, the Princeton-Fung Global Forum will provide a setting for colleagues from distinct backgrounds to cross national and regional boundaries, and to share views from diverse disciplinary and professional perspectives.
The inaugural Princeton-Fung Global Forum, "The Future of the City," will be held from January 30 through February 1, 2013, in Shanghai, China. Participants will include filmmakers, writers, scholars, urbanists, architects and policymakers.
The theme of the Forum is "The Future of the City." The majority of the world's population now lives in cities, and the ratio is expected to reach 70 percent by 2050. But perhaps more importantly, the city has been the site of so many of humanity's great experiments. Indeed, the city itself can be considered a cultural, political and economic experiment, where people from diverse corners mingle, innovate and create new problems and solutions.
It has been in cities that people developed the very concept of what it means to be modern. We should not, therefore, be surprised to find that many of the processes we place under the mantle of globalization are in fact urban. These range widely, from how people imagine "home" in an age of heightened mobility, to the sprawl into megacities and the test of rising ocean levels as a result of global climate change. Cities as far apart as Shanghai, New York and Mumbai are confronting the challenges of modernity differently; cities have their own spirits, economic foundations and technological resources.