USD is in the early stages of planning a TEDx event, the first public university in the state to do so.
TEDx is an individually-run TED talk that provides students, staff and faculty with an opportunity to listen to community members speak on important, globally-relevant issues.
TED is a nonprofit organization that produces educational content for many different topics via speakers at different venues throughout the world.
Its conferences are generally exclusive events to which attendees must apply for a spot or pay their way in.
In accordance with the license terms issued through TED, the TEDxUSD event is only allowed to admit 100 attendees.
Students who wish to attend must apply, and will then be entered in a drawing for a chance to win a ticket. Some seats will be available for purchase, while others will go to volunteers who fit the requirements within the group’s constitution.
Live streaming in the Muenster University Center will be available for those who aren’t selected to attend the Nov. 7 event at 5 p.m.
All details of the TEDxUSD event are being handled by a board of eight students. The group, which meets every other week, selected the various speakers, chose a production company to film the event and communicated with the international company to set the event up.
“This is an independent event and they have been very independent in their duties,” Leslie Pusey, the board adviser, said. “This has been great.”
In preparation for the event, the board also has been seeking funding to host the project. The Student Government Association approved $4,850 worth of funding in a unanimous vote during its Sept. 22 meeting.
“We have already got quite a bit of money from on-campus sources,” lead organizer Josh Arens said at TEDx USD’s first meeting Sept. 20.
The board is also hoping to acquire local business sponsorships to fund the event.
The group is preparing for the event by gathering volunteers to advertise, help set-up the venue, people to usher speakers to keep the production running smoothly and finish the event’s final touches
The event may not be entirely new to USD students, as online TED Talks have become popular with many professors, said USD professor Jennifer Hough, who attended the Sept. 20 board meeting.
“I show TED talks in my class all the time,” she said. “They’re amazing, the website has so many cool speeches on every topic you could possibly imagine.”
First-year Kevin Nam also attended the Sept. 20 meeting. He is looking to volunteer his time for some aspect of the event.
“Since this program is unprecedented in South Dakota, I was excited to check it out,” Nam said. “Safe to say, I was impressed by the turn out.”
Pusey said speakers with varying viewpoints were chosen for TEDx USD on purpose.
“You’re inviting kind of the movers and shakers and idea makers, and that’s kind of what we wanna do,” she said. “We wanna have people that can provide a new perspective.”
Speakers for the event include Tiffany Graham, Dean of the USD Law School, Michael Williams, strategic programming director of Citigroup, Steve Miller, pastor and USD professor, Frank Leibfarth, USD alum, Sarah Jennings, South Dakota state AARP director, Seth Pearman, Flandreau tribal attorney and Kelsey Collier-Wise, Vermillion alderwoman and Vermillion United Way executive director.
The members of TEDx not only seek new perspectives but also voices from the area that have made a big impact on the community.
“I’m hoping that students can be inspired because a lot of these speakers … have a connection to USD so you can see what some of these people have been able to do with an education from USD,” executive producer of the event Cole Hensley said.
(Photo: Communications, Editorial and Marketing Director Chelsea Gilbertson speaks at a TEDx meeting Sunday in the Muenster University Center. Volunteers are readying for the Nov. 7 event. John Fritzie-Gasper / The Volante)