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Fifth Annual TEDxGuelphU a Success


Speakers from Guelph area present some “ideas worth spreading”

Despite starting out with some minor technical difficulties, this year’s TEDxGuelphU – Inside Out event was, overall, a resounding success, once again bringing the principles of TED, a movement that takes place globally to the University of Guelph campus.

In the wake of the event, which was held in Rozanski Hall on Nov. 23, Chris Pond, the main organizer of the event, took some time to share his thoughts on the day.

“We’ve had nothing but positive feedback since Saturday,” Pond said, “and despite the few technical issues we experienced, looking back I’m extremely proud of what we pulled off with just a few short months of planning.”

This year’s event, which marked U of G’s fifth foray into TEDx, is the second to be held during the Fall semester. The event was pushed ahead by several months from its usual February date due to some scheduling conflicts with the management team.

“Our team is all students, and obviously it’s always busy for us, balancing this with school,” Pond said. “But this year in particular we had some serious scheduling issues: second semester exchange and my own co-op, that caused us to push the date forward.”

To facilitate this rush, the team started planning for the event during the summer break.

The daylong event managed to capture the small-town feel that its organizers intended to pull off. The dressy attire of the attendees and the break periods complete with refreshments and attractions, provided a forum for attendees to mingle with the other guests, talk directly with the speakers, and discuss the ideas presented.

Speakers came to the event with a host of different opinions, and with backgrounds in a wide variety of different subjects.

“That is the importance of the multidisciplinary approach to the day,” Pond said. “The event isn’t catering more to any specific campus group but rather bringing us all together.”

Not only did 100 guests attend the event on, the TEDx website, which was streaming the event, got over 300 more hits that day.

As for the nine speakers themselves, each facilitated interesting and engaging discussions on issues they had first-hand experience with and which they were passionate about promoting solutions for. From conflicts between agriculture and industry in developing nations, to the importance of cultural stories in determining conscientious change in the present, to raising awareness about the ways in which the individuals can help their community and the environment at once, the whole day was a rich learning experience and had, perhaps unsurprisingly, a very ‘Guelph’ vibe.

Runaway hits of the day were Guelph’s own Professors Gard Otis and Dan Ashlock. Professor Otis discussed the issues of monoculture in North America and the detrimental impact the system is having on our honeybees. Professor Ashlock discussed the endemic issues of the high-school math curriculum, with its emphasis on standardized tests and its negative impact on not only the skills of students, but also the way that math is being viewed today.

Another big hit was Dr. Brendan Myers, who gave a captivating presentation of the issue of human loneliness in the modern, digitized age of social media.

In the end, TEDxGuelphU 2013 proved to be an impressive example of student initiative and surely succeeded in espousing ‘ideas worth spreading.’

“I can honestly say that I’m glad its over,” Pond admitted, “and that doesn’t mean I’m not extremely proud of what our team accomplished this year. The event went smoothly and everything I’ve heard since has been positive, but there’s always room for improvement. I’ve had a great time organizing [TEDx] this year, but I think I’ll pass the torch on for the 2014 event. This was my first time organizing an event like this and it has definitely taught me a lot about myself, I think someone else could benefit from filling my shoes just as much.”

TEDxGuelphU intends upload the presentations, in full, on its website in the near future.