By Jerome Stuart Nichols | Life Editor
Added March 11, 2012 at 8:15 pm
Renowned 19th century French poet, playwright and novelist Victor Hugo once said, “There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time has come.”
Throughout history there have been several ideas that have strongly suggested the accuracy of Hugo’s assertion.
It was an idea of religious freedom that led to the creation of The United States of America. It was an idea sparked the industrial revolution. It was also an idea that started the civil rights fight of the mid-twentieth century.
The world famous TED conferences are in the business of sharing, “ideas worth spreading,” according to their motto.
It was in the spirit sharing ideas that on Friday, March 9 the long-awaited TEDxEMU conference took over the Quirk-Sponberg building for a unique day of shared ideas.
The eight-hour TEDxEMU conference was a part of the independently developed TEDx series of worldwide conferences and talks. Curated by Eastern Michigan University’s Life Arts and Entertainment Program Coordinator Gregg Costanzo, TEDxEMU featured talks and performances by over thirty of the EMU community’s brightest minds.
Presenters and topics at TEDxEMU ranged from a reading of poetry by EMU student Aijalon Wallace to a live demonstration of how exercise can slow the decline of aging by Howard Booth, professor of biology at EMU.
Another presentation discussed a rousing talk on the societal and personal impact of raising women to believe that physical appearance is the main factor of their worth by Director of the Eastern Michigan University McNair Scholars Program and Professor of English, Heather Neff.
The event also featured demonstrations and informational displays from some of EMU’s most forward thinking organizations. Those included the Children’s Institute and a live demonstration of 3D motion capture by members of the Simulation Animation and Gaming department.
Along with idea sharing and discussion, TEDxEMU also featured musical performances from several great talents from the EMU and Ypsilanti community. Audience members were treated to an acoustic performance by EMU junior Antonia Moses and another performance by Yunxi Chen who played the pipa, a harp-like traditional Chinese string instrument.
From the beginning, host Mary Larkin made the purpose of the day clear. “Today is meant to spark discussion,” she said in her impassioned introduction.
And indeed it was. After each block of discussions, TEDxEMU attendees filed into the hallways of the Quirk-Sponberg building to connect with the presenters and further expand upon the ideas presented on stage.
The unique atmosphere bred lively discussions between people from all corners of EMU’s community who may not normally have cause to connect with each other.
TEDxEMU started as an idea by Gregg Costanzo after he attended the TEDxDetroit conference in 2011.
In a February interview with The Ypsilanti Courier, Costanzo explained that, “There’s a very large talent pool at Eastern. I started thinking well we could actually do our own TEDx.”
From that, the planning began and eventually led to TEDxEMU.
TED, which stands for technology, entertainment and design is a non-profit organization that began in 1984. The organization tasks itself with spreading ideas and starting discussions that can change the world or simply change the lives of those who view them.
According to information available on TED.com, TED began, “As a conference bringing together people from three worlds: technology, entertainment, design.”
Presenters at TED are challenged to share their ideas in 18 minutes or less, in a way that is both memorable and informative.
Each year there are two official TED conferences held in Palm Springs, FL and Edinburgh, Scotland. These official conferences serve as a medium, bringing together the brightest minds from around the world to speak and discuss ideas.
Across the world TED hosts several other TEDTalks throughout the year. These follow the same format, but allows for more connection and discussion in a smaller format.
The TED organization is not only renowned for their groundbreaking talks and conferences, but also their musical performances and poetry readings. Past musical guests include operatic soprano Danielle de Niese and cellist Maya Beiser.