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‘Power’ Subject of GU’s First Independent TEDx Event

A photo of the promotional poster for TEDx Georgetown: bold black letters spelling POWER over the names of the speakers.   

September 25, 2012 – Renowned journalists, activists and performing artists as well as Georgetown faculty and students will convene on campus this week for the university’s first independently organized TEDx event.

The subject of the talk is “power.”

“We first had this idea of Power 2020, but we thought the topics could be broader when you think about power,” says James Sharp (MSB’15), who helped organize the event with support from the Lecture Fund. “Power suits both the dynamic and the focus of study at Georgetown and throughout D.C., and gives us scope to delve into the more unusual aspects of student life.”

Diverse Speakers

The talks, which will take place 2-8 p.m. on Sept. 28 in the university’s Lohrfink Auditorium, is in keeping with Georgetown’s commitment to promoting innovation and the free exchange of ideas.

TED, which stands for technology, entertainment and design, is a nonprofit organization that invites speakers to give 18-minute lectures and then posts video recordings online.

Speakers at the Georgetown event will include Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng, award-winning journalist and author Maureen Orth, Time magazine editor Bobby Ghosh, American Ballet Theatre soloist Misty Copeland and many others.

Several members of the Georgetown community will also share their expertise during the power TED talks, including Cynthia Schneider, distinguished professor in the practice of diplomacy and soft matter physicist and professor Daniel Blair.

Power of the Mundane

“Engaging with a broader audience about science has to be the most important part about my TED talk,” says Blair. “I really enjoy having the chance to explain why many things that may appear simple at first glance have hidden complexities that make them not only interesting to investigate … but simultaneously beautiful. The power of the seemingly mundane materials we interact with every day is tremendous.”

Three Georgetown students plan to be part of the event – Kendall Ciesemier (C’15), Chase Meacham (C’14) and Caspian Tavallali (SFS’14).

Power in Powerlessness

Tavallali is founder and CEO of Trebizond Investments (a student investment fund based in Washington, D.C.) and is also secretary of the board for Georgetown Collegiate Investors.

Meacham has helped engage the deaf and disabled communities and promoted discussion about student understanding of diversity through various performing arts. His talk will deal with the power of communication and dialogue in creating theater and performance pieces.

“I've been formulating various ideas about performativity over the last few years, both in the classroom and the rehearsal space, and was thrilled at the potential to continue the conversation with a larger audience,” says the junior, who is studying theater and government at Georgetown.

Ciesemier started an organization to help kids with AIDS in Africa – Kids Caring 4 Kids – when she was 11 years old. She will speak about “Finding Power in Powerlessness” and hopes her Georgetown presentation will be the first of many TEDx talks to come.

First TED Talk

The development of TEDx Georgetown follows an initial TED Talk on campus in March 2011 that focused on “Netcetera,” or a look at how the Internet changes modern life.

Michael Nelson, who was a visiting professor in the Georgetown’s Department of Communication, Culture, and Technology at the time, devoted his talk to “The Internet and Diplomacy.”

With the help of advisors Nelson and Michael Wang, students were able to apply for a TED license to bring more discussions of ideas to campus.

Sharing Ideas

“I think it means a lot for the Georgetown community,” says Blair. “In particular, being able to support an event like this demonstrates how dedicated the university is to fostering new ways of sharing ideas and promoting creativity.”

Though the event is sold out, there may be opportunities for other members of the university community to attend throughout the day as ticketholders leave, according to organizers.

For information, visit TEDx Georgetown.