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Province's first TEDx event has Memorial connections

By Rebecca Cohoe

This March, St. John's will host the first TEDx event in this province, TEDxFortTownshend. And while it is not an official Memorial event, plenty of Memorial students, faculty and staff have been involved in bringing TEDx to town.

TED (Technology Entertainment and Design) is a not-for-profit organization run by the Sapling Foundation. It hosts a globally-recognized lecture series dedicated to "ideas worth spreading." The TEDx program gives communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level. With more than 2,500 events held worldwide since 2009, TEDx events are planned and co-ordinated independently on a community-by-community basis.

That's where students, faculty and staff from Memorial come in. The primary organizer of TEDxFortTownshend is the Global Citizenship Initiative (GCI), an organization that began as a class project for a political science class at Memorial. It has since grown into a non-profit organization that gives Memorial students the opportunity to volunteer with a non-governmental organization and gain experience within the not-for-profit sector.

According to Jeremy Burry, a Memorial alumnus and the director of community outreach and advocacy with GCI, TEDxFortTownshend is about encouraging the sharing of ideas and information. "We seek to give a platform for great ideas and there is no better way to achieve this goal than through internationally recognized brands like TED and TEDx."

The focus of TEDxFortTownshend is Re-imagining Citizenship in the Twenty-first Century, and with a program that includes keynote talks and TED videos as well as local speakers and performers, it will reflect both global and local priorities.

"Just because the theme is global doesn't mean that more local or personal focuses are discouraged. Citizenship can be interpreted very broadly or more specifically," clarified Mr. Burry.

TED talks have come in handy for Dr. Janna Rosales, of the Department of Religious Studies and the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, on a professional level.

"I think TED talks have currency with students, and also plugged-in instructors, for the way they animate important ideas. The fact there will be a live TEDx event on their doorstep brings the relevance of 'ideas worth spreading' even closer to home."

While Dr. Rosales believes that simply attending the event, to be held on March 11 at the Masonic Temple in St. John's (start time TBD), will be a great way to get exposed to new ideas and ways of thinking, she also encourages members of the Memorial community to consider speaking at the event.

"You don't have to be well-known to deliver a powerful and engaging talk; you just have to be passionate about sharing your stories and insights."

The call for speakers and performers for TEDxFortTownshend is now open at All submissions must be received by Jan. 31.