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Friday, March 1, 2024

Second annual TEDx event to be held on campus

Eighteen minutes — the time allotted for a TED speaker to give the talk of their life.

On May 19, UC Davis will host its second TEDx event featuring a variety of local speakers, who will each have 18 minutes to present their research, discoveries or point of view. The event is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in 1100 Social Sciences and Humanities, and this year’s theme is “The Power of Perspective.”

The TED organization, which stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, was created 30 years ago, eventually giving birth to TED talks.

“The idea was to create a talk that could be listened to on someone’s coffee break or between activities during the day and it had to deliver a message more than facts,” junior economics and psychology major Tyler Wilson said. “TED talks seek to inspire and enlighten people about something that the speaker of the talk thinks is important in the world.”

A multitude of these talks are given at an annual conference; however, three years ago this non-profit branched out, allowing others to hold their own independent events. The events are called TEDx and have spread to more than 200 countries worldwide.

Senior economics major Phil Chu is the director of public relations for TEDxUCDavis and the master of ceremonies for the event.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for people to learn and to share their ideas and to kind of inspire you with hope,” Chu said.

Those asked to speak at the events, including UC Davis chemistry lecturer Andreas Toupadakis, recognize the power of these talks.

“They are unique because they present ideas that are usually ignored by the mainstream media,” Toupadakis said in an e-mail.

The founder and curator of TEDx at UC Davis, junior biological sciences major Cory Warshaw, said that he saw TEDx as a great opportunity.

“It’s just such a powerful idea and such a powerful platform,” Warshaw said. “It turned out to be way more work than I thought it was going to be and way more rewarding.”

Co-curators Michael Lipp, a junior managerial economics major, and Wilson say they work with TEDxUCDavis because they like the passion for learning that TED talks inspire in listeners.

“It’s a way that people can convey their ideas to an audience ranging in understanding, skill and perspective and be able to share those ideas in an approachable way,” Lipp said.

This year, the TEDxUCDavis organizers created the theme “The Power of Perspective” to bring the event together and leave the audience with a resonating message.

Wilson said that while the event is long, it is suggested that all participants stay for the entire day to receive that message.

“It’s a very engaging event and to take the message that we want people to take away, we really need people to stay to gain the wide variety of perspectives and take the time to speak with people,” Wilson said.

With this in mind, the student organizers acknowledge the fact that in order for the event to really carry the message and reach the goal of diversity and perspective, all of those involved have to be willing to be engaged.

“We are not trying to sell TED,” Chu said. “We want people to be inquisitive and kind of figure out what is going on and get excited about it.”

In order to reach these students, certain marketing techniques were used to find students who would contribute to the event.

“We get so much visual information constantly. We only really take things in when we are touching them and interacting with them,” Lipp said. “We just want people who are passionate about learning to find out about this.”

Chu said that students should and even need to attend to remove themselves from the daily stresses and bureaucratic elements of being a student and take the time to learn with no pressure.

“TED brings back that adolescent energy that otherwise might get tapped out of you,” Chu said.

Not only is this event beneficial for students, the organizers say, but it also offers much more to the university as a whole.

“Everyone wins from this situation,” Wilson said. “Students gain a lot intellectually and personally from the events but professors get a lot, too, not only intellectually but it also helps support the work that they are doing.”

Toupadakis said that professors benefit because their work is broadcast on a wide scale. These talks are not only shown to those who attend the event but also posted to the website for anyone to watch.

“The more people that hear [these ideas], the higher the possibility is to find people with similar vision, thus being able to work together in translating the ideas into action,” Toupadakis said.

All of the speakers who will be presenting at the event are local, such as Toupadakis, or have a message relevant to local interests. This is important to the organizers because it helps the event achieve the overall mission to form a closer community.

“One of our main goals at TEDxUCDavis is that it is really locally oriented. We are trying to build a sense of community and that people have a shared interest in ideas,” Warshaw said.

While last year’s TEDx event was successful, this year Wilson said they are expecting attendance to double due to the larger location.

“We hope to expand even more next year,” Wilson said. “We want this movement to pervade the university and really become a part of it.”

Tickets are $18 for students, $24.50 for UC Davis affiliates and $30 for general admission, and can be purchased at tedxucdavis.com. To work with TEDxUCDavis, contact Tyler Wilson at twilson@tedxucdavis.com.

DEVON BOHART can be reached at features@theaggie.org.

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