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TEDx event highlights W&M 'ideas worth spreading'

On Saturday, William & Mary students had the opportunity to listen to other members of their “historically innovative” university talk about ideas that are shaping the future.

One hundred people attended the TEDxCollegeofWilliam&Mary event in Miller Hall, while more watched it through a streaming video feed in the Sadler Center’s Commonwealth Auditorium. Organized by a committee of faculty, staff, alumni and students with support from the Division of Student Affairs and in conjunction with nonprofit group TED, the event featured an exhibit area, pre-recorded presentations and live talks from William & Mary faculty, staff, students and alumni.

“It’s really cool that they’re using William & Mary students and professors for their talks,” said Shane Frondelli ‘14, a volunteer for the event. “With the historic area, our resources, and innovation, it’s really a perfect fit for us.”

TED, which stands for “Technology, Entertainment, and Design,” is dedicated to promoting ideas that help shape or change the world. Speakers with TED have ranged from Bill Gates to Jane Goodall. The organization publishes the “TEDTalks” online and hosts two live major events per year. The organization created TEDx as way for people to bring a TED-like experience to local audiences.

The theme of TEDxWilliam&Mary was “historically innovative,” a reference not only to W&M’s role in forming and changing the way Americans think and have thought since the beginning of America, but also how students and faculty of the university are changing the world today.

“It’s a thing you can’t miss at this college,” said Beverly Wang ’13, another volunteer. “It’s a really cool opportunity.”

TEDxWilliam &Mary featured two pre-recorded talks from previous TED speakers (Renny Gleeson and Aimee Mullens) and nine live speakers from William & Mary.

Three speakers came from William & Mary’s faculty. Tamara Sonn, professor of religious studies, discussed myths about religion, while David Aday, professor of sociology and American studies, presented a talk entitled, “Owning Change: Community, Knowledge, and Development.” Michael Luchs, assistant professor of business, also spoke at the event, focusing on how to think differently when designing college courses.

The university’s staff was also well represented at the event, with Christiana Kallon '11, assistant dean of undergraduate admissions, discussing the importance and societal benefits of educating women, and David Trichler, director of operations at AidData, speaking on using the power of data to do good in the world.

Current students and alumni also spoke at the event. Adam Stackhouse ‘06, owner and producer of AVAdventure Productions, discussed storytelling in the digital world, and Bailey Thomson ‘10, director of leadership development at EAdvance, talked about innovation in underserved communities. Undergraduate student Pat Austria ’13 spoke about using crowdsourcing technology to change how lives are saved, and graduate student Tim Pagano ’14 presented a talk entitled, “Respectful Inaction: Expecting Less and Less of One Another.”

Carly Barnes ’15, a student who attended the event, said that she just discovered TEDTalks this year.

“They’re a really cool idea, and I’m glad I got to go see these talks,” she said.

“They really intrigue you,” Jake Todd ’14, another student and audience member, added. “They have all sorts of different speakers, experts, musicians, artists, scientists—just all kinds of people. It’s cool that they got to integrate faculty and students in too.”

When asked to sum up the entire experience, David Alperti ’13, a volunteer, said simply: “paradigm-smashing.”

Arts & Sciences » A&S News