In January about eighty undergraduates returned to campus before the spring semester for the inaugural Winter Forum. The two-and-a-half day Conference was founded to stimulate serious discussion on campus on a topic of global significance. This year, students, faculty members, and industry experts gathered to examine ways to make the green economy work.
The forum began with a panel discussion featuring Chad Holliday, former chair and CEO of DuPont; Allen Joines, mayor of Winston-Salem and chair of the North Carolina Economic Development Board; and David Orr, a professor of environmental studies and politics at Oberlin College. The discussion was moderated by Tim Profeta M.E.M. '97, J.D. '97, director of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. The Nicholas Institute organized the event with support from the provost's office.
Over the next two days, students attended sessions on the political feasibility and financial difficulties inherent in making the U.S. economy more environmentally sustainable, led by faculty members from a variety of disciplines. Students then competed to generate ideas for start-up green-technology business ventures.
Their proposals were judged by alumni industry insiders, including David Kirkpatrick '82, Mike Michael M.B.A. '86, and Katrin Burt M.B.A. '04, who were invited back to campus for the event. The winning group proposed starting a company that would use recycled newspapers to insulate homes in Malaysia.
Next year's Winter Forum will be led by the Duke Global Health Institute.