2015 Princeton Reunions Panel Discussion: “Engaged in the Service of All Nations: Creating a Lasting Impact through Sustainable Development”

On May 29, 2015, Princeton’s EWB held its third annual Princeton Reunions event, a panel discussion in Robertson Bowl followed by a mixer. The room was filled with a diverse array of alumni, family members, and students alike, all of whom eagerly asked questions throughout.

The panel was moderated by Princeton’s Professor Forrest Meggers of the Andlinger Center for Energy and Environment and Department of Architecture, who has worked on a range of sustainable building projects in Singapore and Switzerland. Another Princeton Professor, Dr. Gregory van der Vink, shared his insights from Novametrics, a firm specializing in poverty-reduction and conflict mitigation through environmentally-sustainable economic development and analytical assessments of human response to environmental change. The panel also included notable alumni, featuring Adrienne Clermont ’09, a graduate of the Woodrow Wilson School and currently a research associate at Johns Hopkins, and Rebecca Kaufman ’11, whose involvement in Echoing Green advances social entrepreneurship work. To round off the panel, Kelly Smolar with Tishman Construction, AECOM, shared her experiences as a member of Engineers Without Borders’ professional chapter in New York.

The wide range of backgrounds, from engineering to social development and health care, yielded an interesting conversation that focused on how to create lasting impact through sustainable development. One of the key takeaways from the conversation was emphasis on the human dimension. How do you implement change with long-lasting effects, and how might the interaction with a community change these goals? How do you ensure that changes made are sustainable and allows the community to take ownership of the project? Beyond the physical engineering of each project, a significant amount of social engineering plays at work.

The successful event brought together panelists and audience members from multiple fields, and we hope the discussion inspired solutions!