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TEDx comes to Concordia

by Alina Gotcherian March 1, 2011
TEDx comes to Concordia

What do bedroom DJs, 3D printing, and transgenic salmon have in common? Aside from being among the many subjects broached at Concordia’s recent TEDx conference, nothing. And that’s exactly the point.

Over 400 people, including students, packed packed the Eric Maclean Center near the Loyola campus for the first interdisciplinary conference to be hosted at Concordia.

The theme of the event was connect-the-dots. Speakers at the event represented diverse backgrounds. For Gad Saad, an evolutionary psychologist and Concordia marketing professor, that was part of the appeal in talking at the event. “I love interdisciplinary [pursuits], that’s very much what I do in my work. No discipline boundaries, and as you can see by the types of speakers here, there are all kinds of different people present and I was very excited to be able to participate in that process.”

Along with Saad, Concordia communication studies professor Owen Chapman and students Gavin Kenneally, Yan Ohayon, and Paul Gillet were among the 13 speakers to present during the day.

For the all-student organizing team, recruiting the right speakers was more important than anything else. “We really, really concentrated on that,” stressed Alexander Lynn, an organizer and communications undergraduate. “At the end of the day, [the speakers] are the vital component of the event.”

The event was modelled on the original TED (an acronym for technology, entertainment and design), an annual, non-profit conference which has been taking place for over 25 years. Jane Goodall, Bill Clinton and Bill Gates are among the high-profile speakers who have attended the original TED.

Thanks to a 2006 move by the organization to make all of the talks available for free online, the TED brand has gained international currency. The new TEDx program is a way to make the experience more accessible at the local level as anyone can independently organize an event.

“People around every corner of the globe want to gather to share ideas, to hear things in their own communities, and just to meet people who are enthusiastic and open,” said Jan Florjanczyk, a Concordia participant and organizer of McGill’s own TEDx that transpired a few months ago.

According to him, TEDxes are quickly gaining ground in Montreal.

“When they started out on the McGill campus, they didn’t think it would burst outside the McGill bubble and it did immediately.” The McGill graduate student added that “Montreal has such a hunger for TEDx events, the community here is brilliant, fast-paced, and active.”

As it turns out, the McGill and Concordia TEDx events have been two of the biggest in Canada.

The Concordia event was quick to sell out its tickets, and considering it was the first of what is looking to become an annual affair, the program ran fairly smoothly.

But Concordia has time to smooth out the kinks. As Florjanczyk said, “I think TEDxes are going to be in Montreal for a long time and I’m excited to see where it goes.”

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