TEDxGVSU returns for second installment

By James Kilborn | 2/22/18 3:13am

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GVL/Kevin Sielaff - Euphoria acappella group performs during the TEDxGVSU event held in Grand Valley's Cook-DeWitt Center on Friday, Feb. 24, 2017.

TEDxGVSU is proud to announce its second idea-sharing event meant to spur creative thought and discussion on March 16 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the DeVos Center Loosemore Auditorium. The event will bring together a number of students and faculty members from different disciplines and will highlight special projects being worked on by local scholars and professionals. 

Nikhil Watsa, a GVSU student involved in planning the event, said it took a dedicated student and faculty body to host the event for the second year in a row. 

“TED is an international corporation, so for us, the X-talks are independently hosted events, so either universities, businesses and cities can host events like this," Watsa said. "So here at Grand Valley, we have a host of students and a couple faculty members who are helping to host the event here.

“We really want to motivate and inspire people in this community. We’re showcasing major work that individuals and groups are doing here, specifically in the Grand Valley and Western Michigan region. We tried to stay local to Grand Rapids, but we included others from West Michigan. Most of our speakers come from here, though.”

GVSU student Alyssa Jones was also involved in establishing the event and highlighted why this year’s theme will be interesting and engaging for the public. 

“The theme for this event is ‘Shape,’” Jones said via email. “This theme focuses on how everyone plays a role in shaping our societies. From forerunners to critical thinkers to visionaries, all people play a role in shaping our societies. TEDxGVSU challenges the community to look closely at their individual shapes and those around them to embrace broader conceptualizations. 

"What impressions have shaped your experience? What shape does your identity hold? How can your impact shape society? We hope that from this event, attendees gain a better understanding of how not only themselves but other individuals shape our society.”

Both Watsa and Jones spoke highly of last year’s event, emphasizing TED’s focus on challenging attendees to think outside the box. 

“Honestly, all of our speakers last year were received very well,” Jones said. “We had a great variety of talks from a variety of different people. It was very refreshing to hear so many different viewpoints. “

Watsa hopes to have another group of speakers who span multiple disciplines, noting that last year’s event featured a motivational speaker as well as a physicist. He said the multidisciplinary backgrounds of the speakers is what makes the event unique.

“That’s the focus of TED as a company: to have diversity in topic and in speakers," he said.

Although the final list of speakers has not been released, both Jones and Watsa are optimistic that the event will be engaging for the public. 

“We haven’t released this year’s list yet,” Watsa said. “We’re just finalizing those speakers, and they’ll be notified this week and the next week. We’ll give updates through social media and will post the list up on our website.”

The speaker application process is not limited to faculty, either. Students who have worked on unique projects in the community have been encouraged in the past, and many presented at last year’s TEDxGVSU event. Students can also nominate faculty they would like to see present, and although most speakers are regionally located, the application process is open to anyone. 

“There is a potential for TEDxGVSU to draw speakers from outside the West Michigan region,” Jones said. “Our speaker application and nomination form is open for anyone to apply to, no matter the location. Many applications are West Michigan-based, though, due to the demographics of our followers.”

Both Watsa and Jones heralded the efforts of the planning committee to host the event, as many students and faculty have donated their time to ensure that the event will run smoothly. 

“We have a lot of plans in place for the TEDxGVSU event,” Jones said. “Currently, the entire event is pretty thought-out, from speakers to decor to day of schedule. We have put a lot of work into this event to make sure it is absolutely astonishing.”

Watsa encouraged students not only to attend the event but to get involved in planning future TEDxGVSU events, as student engagement ensures that the events are tailored toward relevant topics.

Interested students can also apply to volunteer at the event, nominate a potential speaker and apply to join the TEDxGVSU planning team next year by emailing tedxgvsu@gmail.com.

Only 100 tickets are being sold, and they will be available on a first come, first served basis for $20 each, so students are encouraged to register as soon as possible. Tickets go on sale Monday, Feb. 26, and include refreshments and a TEDxGVSU gift bag at the event.

For more information, visit www.ted.com/tedx/events/21633

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