TEDx impresses yet again

By Andrei Calinescu & Naira Ahmed

On Friday, Western held its second TEDx conference with 100 student delegates in attendance.

TEDx conferences are local, self-organized speaking events taking place all across the globe, from Delhi to Dallas.

This year’s theme was “Impact. Innovation. Insight.” The diverse lineup spread ideas from many fields. Among the acclaimed speakers were Rob Stewart, the filmmaker behind Sharkwater, Jesse Hirsh, a renowned freelance journalist, Todd Reichert and Cameron Robertson, aviation pioneers and builders of the first human-powered, flapping-wing aircraft and Western cognitive neuroscientist and musician Jessica Grahn.

In keeping with tradition, TEDxWesternU challenged conventional wisdom and proposed paradigm shifts for a better future. Attendees learned fourth graders can achieve world peace, most of us tie our shoelaces incorrectly, Google and Facebook are increasingly defining us and carbon credits are counterproductive.

Western neuroscientist Jessica Grahn conclusively showed exposing a fetus to Mozart in utero has no effect on intelligence—only on the parental pocketbook. Rob Stewart delivered a jarring warning that climate change and overfishing are threatening the future of humanity, and underscored the need for sustainability. Innovations with far reaching implications were introduced, from green building cooling solutions to high-speed bicycles capable of more than 100 kilometres an hour.

The talks and videos were generally rich with content, and though discussions among delegates were not facilitated as in 2011, there was a healthy amount of discourse during the breaks. The material was thought-provoking. It struck a chord with everyone watching and those who missed out should view the recordings as soon as they become available.

In comparison to TEDxUWO, held at London’s prestigious Grand Theatre downtown in 2011, TEDxWesternU was organized at Western’s Paul Davenport Theatre in Talbot College. However, many TEDxUWO veterans did not feel the environment resonated with the event this year. Beyond the narrower halls, the school environment did not do justice to such a high calibre even, and lessened chances of a networking and meeting new people.