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Leading thinkers to discuss future of higher education at Princeton forum in Paris

Some of the world's top thinkers including Nobel laureates, policymakers and university leaders will gather in Paris in April to discuss the future of higher education at the second annual Princeton-Fung Global Forum.

The program, to be held April 9-11, will examine the challenges and opportunities that colleges and universities face in multicultural societies and information-driven economies. The forum comes at a time when educators assess the potential of massive open online courses, or MOOCs, and other technological advances to reshape higher education.

"The advent of online pedagogy and the changes wrought by internationalization and budgetary pressures have provoked urgent debate about the future of universities and higher education," said Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber. "This conference promises to be an important intellectual event."

The forum will be co-hosted by the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l'Homme of Paris. Most events will be held at the historic Hôtel de Ville de Paris, which houses the offices of Parisian municipal government. 

The Princeton-Fung Global forum was established in 2012 as part of a $10 million gift from William Fung, a 1970 Princeton graduate and University trustee who is group chairman of the Hong Kong-based company Li & Fung.

The first forum was held in January in Shanghai on "The Future of the City." That event and the 2014 forum have been organized by Princeton's Council for International Teaching and Research under the direction of Jeremy Adelman, the Walter Samuel Carpenter III Professor in Spanish Civilization and Culture and a professor of history. He is one of the first Princeton faculty members to teach a class made available worldwide on the Coursera online learning platform.

"I am grateful to William Fung for enabling Princeton to convene an event that will gather together leading scholars and policymakers from around the world," Eisgruber said. "Professor Jeremy Adelman has assembled an outstanding cast of speakers on a topic of worldwide interest."

The forum will open the evening of April 9 with a public discussion on a provocative question: "Knowledge for What? Have Universities Lost Sight of Their Purpose?" The conversation — moderated by David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker magazine and a 1981 alumnus of Princeton — will feature:

* Serge Haroche, director of the Collège de France and 2012 Nobel laureate in physics;

* Daniel Kahneman, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology, Emeritus, and professor of psychology and public affairs, emeritus, at Princeton and 2002 Nobel laureate in economic sciences; and

* Christine Musselin, dean for research at Sciences Po, Paris. 

Other sessions will focus on the risks and rewards of online education, universities as agents of social change and the future of undergraduate education. Eisgruber will moderate a session on "How to Think About Universities in the Global Age," and Michel Wieviorka, director of the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, will moderate a panel on "How to Expand Access for a Diverse Population."

Other prominent speakers include Vincent Berger, special adviser to French President François Hollande for higher education and research; Daphne Koller, the Rajeev Motwani Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University and co-founder and co-CEO of Coursera; and others from Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and South America.

In addition to Eisgruber and Kahneman, Princeton University speakers on the program include Gideon Rosen, the Stuart Professor of Philosophy, chair of the Council of the Humanities and director of the Program in Humanistic Studies; and Cecilia Rouse, dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and the Lawrence and Shirley Katzman and Lewis and Anna Ernst Professor in the Economics of Education.

William Fung's gift last year established the Fung Global Fellows Program at Princeton as well as the Princeton-Fung Global Forum.

"Thanks to the generous support of William Fung, participants at the Fung Forum will have an opportunity to address some of the most complex challenges and questions facing higher education today," said Princeton Provost David Lee. "These questions aren't just interesting on a scholarly level but are immediately relevant to Princeton's own future."

More information on the 2014 forum, as well as videos from all sessions at the 2013 conference in China, are available on the Princeton-Fung Global Forum website.

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