Last Friday afternoon, TU held its second annual TEDxUniversityofTulsa event at the Lorton Performance Center. The event was started last year when two TU students involved with the NOVA Fellowship, Katie Snyder and Hannah Hutchison, “wanted to bring an event to campus that would showcase the talent of ideas of our students and faculty.” The two eventually decided on the TED Talk format as the best way to facilitate the sharing of ideas from our campus to the rest of the world. Snyder continued as a co-organizer for this year’s event, along with Sam Beckmann.
The idea behind TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is rather simple: using small ‘talks’ around 10-15 minutes in length, great minds are able to send their ideas around the world. A TEDx event comes when an external organization reaches out to TED for a license, and (if approved) plans a completely independent event with its own unique flair and target population. The TU branch of the event features talks and performances from professors and students in the university, with some of last year’s segments viewed thousands of times on the TEDx Talks YouTube page. Giving TU students and faculty the opportunity to spread their ideas emphasizes the event’s local focus and grassroots organization.
Having been to both TEDx events, this year’s certainly had as many, if not more, well-received and enlightening ideas as last year. This year’s theme was “Truth and Dare,” which Beckmann describes as being “meant to challenge students’ perceptions and ideas about themselves and the world around them.” Beckmann also emphasizes the centrality of the theme to planning the event, noting that it was “on our mind when choosing speakers, videos and even activities for the intermission.”
The theme shone through in many ways. Each talk used “truths”, such as Dr. Todd Otanicar’s numbers on the world’s energy consumption and Teresa Stastny’s prevalence rates of mental illness, and utilized those truths to make “dares,” such as Olivia Rogers daring viewers to embrace a natural fear of the unknown or Dr. Bradley Brummel’s dare to tailor their professional development to reach their dreams.
The performances, too, had aspects of both truths and dares. From the truth evident in Kalyn Barnoski’s acoustic songs based on real life experience to Asura Oulds’s extremely daring and unique experimental music performance. Hosts Carter Neblett and Claire Wood played an impromptu game of Truth or Dare on stage before intermission, in which volunteers handed out cards to attendees with Truth or Dare questions to facilitate conversation.
The event ran shorter than its allotted four hours, which is a fine problem to have. It simply meant viewers had more time in the intermission and after the show to discuss ideas presented in the talks, visit booths set up outside the venue and enjoy the free Andolini’s pizza and garlic knots. After the show, each attendee received a bag with a Truth and Dare t-shirt, the x that was cut out of the attendees’ nametags, and other gifts. Beckmann noted that this was one of many improvements from the year before, due to “a significantly earlier start on planning this year’s event compared to last year.”
Next year’s event already has a date: March 31, 2017. TED has a 100-ticket limitation on TEDx events, and tickets have gone fairly quickly the last two years. Tickets are typically released about two weeks before the event. Video of this year’s talks and performances should be available in approximately two months. If you are interested in helping plan next year’s event, email firstname.lastname@example.org.