TEDxDU Celebrates and Shares Ideas for Positive Change
Through the work of its faculty, students, alumni and staff, the University of Denver leads change that improves lives. In an effort to showcase those endeavors, as well as the positive change led by others, DU hosted “TEDxDU: A Celebration of DUing.”
TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, and since 1984 its conferences have brought together some of the world’s most fascinating thinkers. Independently run TED conferences are known as TEDx events.
DU’s event included 18 speakers, about half from within the DU community, speaking on everything from world poverty to clean water to animal therapy.
Each of the presenters spoke for no more than 18 minutes and some had only 12.
“It’s like a modern-day salon where people get to sit around and say what they believe in a respectful way,” said Neal Foard, worldwide director of creative learning for Saatchi & Saatchi. Foard has been a TED fan for years and was excited when DU organizers asked him to speak.
His speech, “Cheering for the Wrong Team,” encouraged attendees to stop cheering so much for celebrities and to cheer more for “the little guys working in the basement who might just save the world.
“Who got all the credit for landing on the moon?” he asked. “The astronauts. Not the guys who designed and built the rockets, the engineers. But those are the people who make our lives better. Knowing that people accomplish more when they are supported and made to feel worthwhile, how much more could they achieve if they had more status and affection and approval?”
Foard went on to share examples of the work being done by DU engineers, whom he interviewed for his presentation.
More than 900 people packed the TEDx site, the Robert and Judi Newman Center for Performing Arts. At least 500 others watched on monitors positioned around campus. The event was also streamed live on the DU website.
Several presentations featured DU alumni. Karambu Ringera, who earned her PhD in human communications studies from DU, shared her experiences as the founder of International Peace Initiatives, a grassroots group that promotes peace in her native Kenya.
In his 15-minute program, Barry Hughes, director of DU’s Frederick S. Pardee Center for International Futures, told the audience about International Futures, created by the Josef Korbel School of International Studies. It is one of the most sophisticated global modeling systems ever developed. Hughes illustrated the system’s abilities by showing a simulation of Africa’s poverty future.
Does Hughes think the TEDx event will help DU to lead positive change?
“I’m cautiously optimistic that the presentations could help people get more involved in different activities because they’ve been shown by speakers to have impact,” he said. “Light bulbs may go on.”