CEDAR RAPIDS — Climate change and renewable energy, driverless cars, Medicaid and evolving schools will be among the essential topics under discussion as Iowa Ideas launches its first full day of panels and speakers Thursday.
Keynote speaker Alec Ross, author and former innovation adviser for the U.S. Secretary of State, will kick off the two-and-a-half-day conference Wednesday evening at the Paramount Theatre.
Some 40 panels and speakers are planned for the Thursday, in concurrent tracks on agriculture, energy and environment, health care, K-12 and higher education, regionalism, workforce and transportation. The conference also incorporates the Workplace (R)evolution conference.
All conference sessions will be held at the DoubleTree by Hilton, in downtown Cedar Rapids.
Among the highlights for Thursday:
• An in-depth look at the state’s changing demographics and its rural-urban divide will be the day’s debut session, at 8 a.m., presented by the State Library of Iowa’s Gary Krob.
• Jean Robillard, the University of Iowa’s Carver College of Medicine dean, and Jennifer Vermeer, UI assistant vice president for health policy and population health, will take questions from Gazette reporters and the audience.
• Iowa Department of Human Services Director Jerry Foxhoven will be among the panelists who will tackle the future of Iowa’s controversial Medicaid program.
• What’s the latest thinking on climate change? Experts from the state and higher education will examine the most recent research.
• Transportation and infrastructure experts will look at policy and safety impacts of autonomous vehicles — as well as at economic efforts aimed to lure this new industry.
• Is STEM all there is? Two separate panels will talk about jobs in the future and how we can prepare students.
Iowa Ideas will continue Friday at the DoubleTree with more panels and speakers.
If you go
• What: Iowa Ideas Conference
• When: The conference continues Thursday and Friday
• Where: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Cedar Rapids Convention Complex, 350 First Ave. SE, and at venues throughout downtown Cedar Rapids
• Conference tickets: $250 for a two-day pass and $150 for one day, available on site and online at iowaideas.com
• More information: iowaideas.com