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Students aim to inspire at first TEDxIndianaUniversity

Sept. 2, 2015

Two IU Bloomington students have organized the campus’s first TEDxIndianaUniversity event this fall to inform students and inspire them to affect positive change in the world. 

TEDx events are local, self-organized spinoffs of the popular TED Conferences and related TED Talks.

Stoner and Brattain

IU students and TEDxIndianaUniversity founders Ari Stoner, left, and Ben Brattain.  | Photo By James Brosher, IU Communications

Seniors Ari Stoner, a biotechnology major, and Ben Brattain, a computer science major, along with two other IU Bloomington students who have since graduated, had been working with campus administrators to organize TEDxIndianaUniversity for almost a year and a half. 

After lots of work networking, fundraising and recruiting, it’s finally a reality, Stoner said.

“We’re trying to build an organization that’s going to last,” he said. “It’s not just about having the event, it’s about creating a new forum for discussion. You don’t get a lot of opportunities to leave your stamp on a university, and we think this is a really cool way because it enhances the education of students.”

Backed by IU sponsors including the Hutton Honors College and the Kelley School of Business, TEDxIndianaUniversity will take place at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 13, at the IU Auditorium. This year’s theme is “Eyes on the Stars, Feet on the Ground” in a nod to the emerging health, technology and social movements that have transformed modern life. 

According to the event’s website, the theme was chosen because: “So many changes are occurring seemingly instantaneously, and we must step back and take a moment to contemplate how we will face the challenges that lie ahead, how we will learn from the past. As young adults look forward to their careers, they must ask themselves what they wish to see in the world and what it will take to realize those dreams.” 

Enter to win

Current IU faculty and staff using a valid IU email address can enter to win two tickets to TEDxIndianaUniversity, a $70 value, Nov. 13 at the IU Auditorium. The contest opens Sept. 2 and closes 4 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 8.

TEDxIndianaUniveristy speakers will include IU faculty members, a two-time Grammy Award winner, the host of a national space education show and more.

Beth Meyerson, assistant professor of applied health science at the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington and co-director of the Rural Center for AIDS/STD Prevention, said she was honored to be chosen to speak at the event.

Meyerson said her talk would outline the recent HIV outbreak in Scott County; its lasting implications, locally and worldwide; and the potential for positive change even in the most difficult of circumstances.

Bennet Brabson, IU professor emeritus of physics, will also speak about his research at TEDxIndianaUniversity. He said his presentation would focus on understanding the science behind climate change, such as the important role that soil moisture plays in extreme temperatures here in the Midwest and how it affects Indiana crops. 

“One of my great pleasures is working with young people -- potential future climate scientists -- as they work to mitigate the consequences of climate change,” Brabson said. “It is their future that hangs in the balance.

Stoner said that's why it is important for IU to host events such as TEDxIndianaUniversity.

“It provides a platform for people to speak to students about what they think young individuals coming out of college should be learning about,” Stoner said. “Instead of it just being I’m going to learn all of this organic chemistry, it’s like, ‘How can chemistry be used to impact climate change?’ And maybe that’s a short segment at the beginning of the first class you take, but when you get someone who’s been on the front lines of doing something like that and they say ‘This is exactly what is important’ it really changes the dynamic and it also can inspire people to do things that they wouldn’t otherwise do.” 

TEDxIndianaUniversity tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 4, at the IU Auditorium box office or on the auditorium’s website. Tickets are $25 to $30 for students and $35 to $40 for faculty, staff and the general public.

TEDxIndianaUniversity aligns with several priorities in the university's Bicentennial Strategic Plan, including student success, a vibrant community of scholars and catalyzing research.

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