Binghamton University’s second TEDx event, ”From Insight to Impact,” will bring seven speakers from campus and across the nation to share presentations with students and faculty.
The lectures, which will take place from 2 to 6 p.m. on March 11 at the Osterhout Concert Theater in the Anderson Center, are part of an event authorized by the non-profit organization, TED — “Technology, Entertainment, Design.” TED provides licenses to individual organizers who wish to put on TEDx events in their local communities. The license allows organizers to brand their events with the TED brand-name and to play any of the over 1,100 TED Talks available on the TED website at their event.
TEDx events are intended to allow individuals and organizations to share “ideas worth spreading.”
Seven students led by Executive Director Lenny Simmons, Co-director Henry Baughman and Associate Director Jon Prosperi have teamed up to hold the second TEDx at BU. Faculty organizers include Max Pensky, a philosophy professor, and Lee Nesslage, director of Harpur constituent relations.
The organizers raised almost $10,000 for this year’s event, with the largest contribution coming from the Harpur College of Arts and Sciences. Other contributions came from the Office of the Provost, TheNewBTV, the Binghamton University Alumni Association and the Binghamton University history department.
“With speakers from the areas of music, art, technology, Buddhism, international affairs and history, we are looking forward to displaying a diverse set of ideas to the audience for them to consider and develop on their own,” according to the BU event’s page on the TED website. “At the close of the program, the audience will convene in the Fine Arts Grand Corridor for discussion and for speaker questions.”
The organizers of BU’s event have known about TEDx for some time, but only acted on planning an event of their own last year.
“We saw that there are tens of thousands of TEDx events in 80 countries, so why doesn’t SUNY have one?” said Simmons, a junior double-majoring in political science and philosophy, politics and law.
The organizers received support from the University, specifically from Nesslage, Pensky and University Spokeswoman Gail Glover.
This year’s event will feature BU President Harvey Stenger and New York Times bestselling author Sharon Salzberg, who has written several books on meditation.
Stenger wrote in an email that he is looking forward to the event and is passionate about the goal of the conferences.
“I have been very honored to have been invited to speak at the TEDx conference,” Stenger wrote. “My focus will be on an area that is near and dear to my heart — higher education — and in particular, how technology is changing the way universities teach and students learn.”
Last year’s event brought in about 100 people to the Old University Union, because of TED-mandated limits. The TEDx organizers have high hopes for this year’s event, stating they expect around 1,200 people to attend this year.
“The event sold out in an hour and a half,” said Baughman, a senior majoring in economics, regarding last year’s event. “People were offering us a bigger area if they could get tickets for the event.”
The organizers wanted to expand the number of speakers and the event’s size so that more people could attend.
“Anyone who gets a license from TED to have an event can have up to 100 attendees,” Simmons said. “The only way to get past this is if one of the organizers has attended the main TED conference, and then you can have as many people as you want.”
Simmons said they bought a ticket for Pensky to attend a major TED conference as part of their budget. Adding Pensky into the events planning was a strategic move for the longevity of the TEDx events on campus, Simmons said.
Kimberly Berton, a graduate student who attended Binghamton’s TEDx last year, said the presentations are memorable.
“The best part for me was that I never knew what you were going to hear,” Berton said of last year’s event. “It’s almost impossible to go to a TEDx conference or the actual conference without learning something. Sometimes it’ll be stuff that you can think about for years afterwards.”
The TEDx organizers hope this is an event that will continue at BU and become larger and more successful in the years to follow.
“We’ve got the infrastructure to keep this going,” Baughman said. “I really hope I could come back as an alum and see TEDx events.”