By now, most readers are probably familiar with the famous TED Talks, which feature engaging presentations on topics ranging anywhere from health to design, and entertainment to technology. In one talk, outspoken chef and food advocate Jamie Oliver muses on the withering state of food quality in American middle school cafeterias. In another video, education critic Sir Ken Robinson speaks to the lack of creativity in our schools, suggesting that we need to do better at valuing students’ abundance of energy. Simply put, most TED Talks are gems, inspiring viewers to think and act more purposefully in the world.
Starting in September 2012, three University of Alberta students are bringing a similar concept to campus. Led by second-year students Dylan Hanwell, Anderson Aforji and Chad Wolf, the Idea Expo is now a recognized student group and is accepting short proposals for 10-15 minute presentations. Want to serve as one of the inaugural speakers? You can find the group’s contact information here.
In a short interview conducted over e-mail, Hanwell writes that intention of the event is “Exposure. Engagement. Exploration. We want students to come to our presentations, to get involved and to discover the ideas being developed around them. There are a number of individuals in the U of A community doing amazing things – they just need a stage. The Idea Expo gives individuals the stage to captivate and inspire others.
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I’ve been on campus for three years, and yet, I’m consistently blown away by the quality of work being done by undergraduate students. At first, it was amazing to listen in on philosophical – and always hilarious – discussions taking place in fraternity houses. Following that, it was the debates on politics in the Students’ Union. Last year, I had the opportunity to help organize the Students’ Union’s Undergraduate Research Symposium, where over 100 students presented their PhD-caliber work. These examples only scratch the surface of what the U of A has to offer.
Over time, I can envision the Idea Expo becoming one of the more prominent events on campus, taking place at intervals throughout the semester. And as students present and share with others, who knows that moments of insight the event will spark.