The success of the inaugural TEDxAustinCollege, “Adding Value to a Changing World,” in September 2016 set the tone for a busy and energetic fall term. Campus members of Alpha Phi Omega national service fraternity proposed the program that would allow students to engage with individuals beyond the local community. College leadership embraced the idea, and TEDxAustinCollege was underway with involvement from the entire Austin College community. TEDx events, licensed by TED, are independently organized and feature local voices.
The student planning team was chaired by Pranav Sheth ’18 of Plano, Texas, and Ganesh Maniam ’17 of Houston, Texas. “Austin College sends students to see and serve the world through study abroad, Global Outreach Fellowships, and other programs,” Sheth said. “Those students extend their knowledge and ideas beyond the classroom and spread it wherever they go. This time, we want to spread ideas not only within the Austin College community but to the entire world.”
The team decided that for the initial year, speakers should be Austin College faculty. Speakers, selected from nominations, and their topics were Dr. Mark Hébert, associate professor of philosophy, “Happiness vs. Meaning: Must I Choose?”; Dr. David Baker, professor of physics, “The Most Extreme Life Form in Our Solar System”; Dr. Lisa Brown, professor of psychology, “Who Gets the Benefit of the Doubt? And Who Shouldn’t”; and Dr. George Diggs, professor of biology, “Real Food Diets for Lions, Zebras, Humans, and Beyond.”
Austin College President Marjorie Hass was pleased that student leadership conceived this event and with the program’s success. “This event brought together remarkable people and innovative concepts that sparked many conversations around ‘ideas worth spreading,’” she said. Attendees also could participate in various activities in the Discovery Depot in Johnson Gallery before and after the Main Stage speaker presentations.
Videos of each speaker are available on the TEDx website. A number of alumni, friends, and business sponsors made the 2016 event possible. Those founding partners and business partners also are listed on the website. More support will be needed for 2017. Email TEDx@austincollege.edu for more information on how to get involved.