That’s the premise behind the TED phenomena, a concept started over 25 years ago in California. Today it has grown into an annual conference attracting notable speakers ranging from Bono to Bill Gates and even former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Then there’s TEDx which are local TED conferences. Although they are arranged and run independently, they still have to conform to the TED philosophy.
The University of Manitoba hosted their first on-campus TEDx conference on Nov 4. It was organized by a group of students and staff with a strong desire to spread these ideas.
Although free of charge and open to the public, it was intended primarily for U of M students, staff, faculty and alumni. Space was limited with room for only 100 attendees. It was quickly sold out.
Makes you wonder why such an event at a large institution as our province’s main university would elect to choose such a small space? But apparently this is typical for TEDx conferences, which usually have a very high ratio of presenters to attendees.
Carly Isaak, a fourth year student of agriculture and food sciences was one of the lucky people chosen to be in the audience. She was impressed with David Barber’s talk on the loss of arctic sea ice.
“He was talking about very serious issues yet it felt like he was having a relaxed one-on-one conversation with you,” commented Isaak.
Following on the heels of the hugely popular We Day event which is aimed primarily at teenagers, this had a similar goal, featuring local personalities to inspire adults to go out and change the world fort the better.
For those like myself who were unsuccessful in their ticket application, you can view the event in true TED spirit by video-link.
There was a rich, well informed and diverse group of presenters. The one day event was broken into three sessions with three presentations at each.
- Brian O’Leary, superintendent at the Seven Oaks School division opened up with a talk of how schools can contribute to social justice.
- He was followed by Ahmad Byagowi a PhD candidate and drone enthusiast who works with robotic experimentation bound for space.
- Debby Kelly, a researcher in comparative cognition closed the first session with a talk on the intelligence of birds.
- Emmanuel Ho, professor in the faculty of health sciences told of nano-medicine in the fight against diseased cells.
- Jeremy Strong, PhD candidate in English, film and theatre, discussed how imagining the world might help us save it.
- Michael Paterson, chief research scientist at the controversial Experimental Lakes Area, discussed the importance of work going on there.
- Following on an ecological theme, the surprising results of polar ice cap reduction was put forward by David Barber, Canada Research Chair in Arctic System Science.
- CBC Manitoba Managing Editor Cecil Rosner followed with a presentation on holding power accountable and the fine line the media must walk when reporting on the government.
- And finally, the session wrapped up with a discussion on the future of architectural design by Sasa Radulovic and Johanna Hurme.
A tremendous amount of time and planning went into making this a successful inaugural event. All the presenters had inspiring tales to tell and challenge the way we see the world.
Hopefully they can inspire us to work together to make a positive contribution to the world around us, both locally and globally.