TEDx Comes to Campus

Have you ever dreamed of attending a TED Talk, dressed in some sort of pant suit and sitting amongst other high brow intellectuals? Or perhaps, taking the stage and giving a lecture so motivating you have a crowd of people cheering on their feet and a world of folks sending the video recording to their not-so-progressive grandparents? This year, that dream can become a reality. Student Affairs has announced that the University of Redlands will be hosting its first annual Redlands-style TEDx event this Spring.


In late October, sophomores and spearheads of TEDxUniversityofRedlands Elaine Liu and Dominick Sullivan hosted two interest meetings for students eager to help organize the event. All students were invited to apply, and the interview portion of the application process began last week.


Although TEDx is an offshoot of the original TED, which garnered a reputation as the ultimate organizer of inspirational and intellectual lectures presented on an iconic circular carpet, the mission and function of TEDx is slightly different.


“In the spirit of TED’s mission, ‘ideas worth spreading,’ the TEDx program helps communities, organizations and individuals produce TED-style events at the local level,” the TEDx website states. “TEDx events are planned and coordinated independently, on a community-by-community basis, under a free license from TED.”


Bringing TEDx to campus will establish an event tradition that will help put the university on the map. The event will be recorded and published on the TEDx YouTube Channel, which has about 15 million subscribers.


Student committees will form for Curation (choosing speakers, editing speeches); Design (graphic, website, stage); Communications (public relations, advertising); Productions (video, lighting, sound, photography), along with any other additional departments that may prove necessary. Interested candidates should fill out an interest form, and will be asked to attend a short interview. This is a great opportunity for students who are looking to gain experience in the above fields, but also for students who are able to connect their varying involvements with TEDx.


Liu and Sullivan dream for TEDx to be a collaborative project that brings together a wide range of community members. Neither Sullivan or Liu are involved in student government but are hoping for the conference to serve as a way to collaborate across clubs and disciplines. They’re hoping to work alongside the Associated Students of the University of Redlands, KDAWG Radio, and The Redlands Bulldog Newspaper, and utilize student entertainment groups such as Dance Company, musical groups, and improv groups during intermission.


“We thought it would be a really cool experience for everyone involved to try and connect as much of the campus as possible,” Liu explained. “This is a more personal reason but as [one of] the primary Curator[s] of this event I want to bring as many new ideas and perspectives as possible to campus and I’m really excited to be working with a curation team since I usually worked along on curation in the TEDx‘es I’ve organized in the past. Basically, for curation, my mantra is going to be diversity and outreach.”


Sullivan explained that teamwork is at the core of this project. Organizing an event like this, he said, would be impossible with just two people.


“What’s truly amazing about TED is the way it establishes an intellectually diverse community. And the fact that Elaine and I echo each other in the ways we’re excited about TED really shows how important this mission is to us,” Sullivan said. “We’ve received more interest than we anticipated, and if that wasn’t motivating enough, we’ve learned from the ongoing application and interview process that the people applying are not consistently the same type of people. Our applicants represent many different areas of campus, from athletes to journalists to international students.”


The speakers of the event have yet to be determined, but will be selected by the Curation Committee. Speakers will present on a volunteer basis, and can be students, faculty, or community members. The event organizers want the speakers to be cross-disciplinary, and to present innovative ideas or creative approaches to reinforced topics. If you’re interested in speaking at the event, or have an idea of someone who could be a great speaker, keep an eye out for an interest form that will soon be distributed to the university community.


“The goals [of TEDX] are numerous; to create new communities of learning, to provide a platform for student and faculty voices to be heard, to connect the school to the city of Redlands at large,” Sullivan said in an email. “The goals are almost as limitless as the opportunities, and it’s truly empowering to be pleasantly surprised by the amount of support we’ve gained right from the get-go. We hope that TEDxUniversityofRedlands will represent all that the University has to offer, and we’re excited to be able to work with the talented and hard-working individuals interested in lending us a hand to help us achieve this goal.”


Interviews with Sullivan and Liu were conducted over email.


Photo contributed by Redlands Bulldog photographer Alex Laner. 


  • Willow Higgins

    University of Redlands senior, Public Policy and English double major and previous Editor-in-Chief of the Redlands Bulldog. Higgins retired from her leadership position to study journalism abroad, and will return as a full-time reporter.