Solving the world’s problems is not an easy task to undertake. However, individuals across the globe have taken it upon themselves to brainstorm ideas that will help solve these problems. Luckily for BYU students, these innovators are coming to campus.
For the second consecutive year, the Ballard Center for Economic Self-Reliance will host TEDxBYU, an event that is independently organized from its sponsor TED. TED, a nonprofit organization that promotes innovative thinking across the globe, licensed BYU to host the event. The x indicates TEDxBYU is a self-organized event and completely separate from TED. For the past 25 years, TED has held annual conferences that inspire new ways of approaching problems and finding solutions. The speakers’ presentations are posted online for viewers who were unable to attend to download. Past TED speakers include Bill Gates and Jane Goodall.
The Ballard Center is designed around the idea of social innovation. According to Todd Manwaring, managing director and professor of the Ballard Center, its focus is centered around engaging students to use creativity to approach problems. He believes TEDx helps foster those ideals.
“We’re using this [TEDx] as a way to reach and share people’s stories of ‘here’s how I’ve done it, here’s what I’ve learned about creativity’ … and approaching a problem,” Manwaring said.
The TEDxBYU event, which Manwaring describes as a performance rather than a lecture, features an impressive lineup of speakers. Among the speakers presenting is New York Times journalist, author and winner of the event’s social innovator of the year award, David Bornstein. Bornstein and other guests each have 18 minutes to present their topic. The speakers focus their topics around this year’s theme of “Foundations for Good.”
“We’re really trying to get people who have been working in this social innovation area to show what they’ve done,” Manwaring said. “It’s an opportunity, like the theme mentions … to learn some foundational perspectives.”
Kathryn May Brown, special events supervisor for the Ballard Center, emphasized how this event is for students of all majors. Although the Ballard Center is housed in the Marriott School, students of all majors participate in classes and internships offered by the center.
The event will be videotaped and posted later for people to watch. Since the event is interactive, they encourage participants to use social media, like twitter and YouTube, for the event. Manwaring said it is encouraged for students to tweet and post things about TEDx before, during and after the event.
“The idea of TED is really to spread ideas,” Brown said. “To spread ideas worth spreading … to get those ideas out there.”
Scott Jackson, president of the Social Innovation Leaderships Council for the Ballard Center, said in an email he believes TEDx is a great way for students to come in contact with powerful ideas. It’s a great opportunity to learn how students can make a difference.
“I think TEDxBYU is a wonderful thing,” Jackson said. “They [TEDxBYU] talk on an entirely deeper context and meaning for me. I expect to walk away from TEDxBYU with a new set of lenses for making a difference in the world.”