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Harvard Will Hold First University-Wide TEDx Event Next Fall

By Caleb O. Shelburne, Crimson Staff Writer

After a long licensing process, a group of students is in the process of planning Harvard’s first ever university-wide TEDx event after receiving approval from TED.

TEDx events are licensed by the official TED organization, a nonprofit that provides a forum for short educational speeches, but are planned independently by local groups.

The event will be held next October, according to Christian G. B. Haigh ’16, the co-president of TEDxHarvardCollege, which is the student group in charge of putting on the event.

Haigh said that the traditional TED-style talks will be interspersed with more hands-on activities such as musical performances, art projects, and perhaps even a dance party.

“We don’t want to have the traditional, [where] you go get a coffee and a bagel and sit down in your seat and wait while everyone congregates,” he said.

Eva Shang ’17, co-president of TEDxHarvardCollege and an inactive Crimson editorial editor, said that the event will aim to be more interactive for the audience.

“You can have a TEDx event that’s purely about the videos...but we’re hoping to create a daylong experience,” she said.

Shang and Haigh said that they experienced difficulties in being licensed by TED as well as being recognized as a student group by Harvard.

“TED officially licensed locations, say Cambridge or Boston. It also licenses universities,” Haigh said, “but it doesn’t license schools within universities.”

Their group thus had to encompass all of Harvard’s schools to get official approval. Haigh said that this conflicted with Harvard’s branding policy, which requires official student organizations to only be associated with one school.

But Haigh said the group eventually gained Harvard approval, and last fall TED officially approved TEDxHarvardCollege, which represents all the schools.

Previously TED has made exceptions for events at the Law School and the Graduate School of Education, but this group will be the first to include participants from across the university.

Organizers are currently determining who will speak at the event.

At an open mic event held on Sunday, about 10 students gave two-minute speeches for a chance at a spot during the event next fall. Mark S. Staples ’17, who is in charge of speaker selection, said videos of the speeches will be posted online for students to vote on.

Jerry Anunrojwong ’18, who auditioned at the open mic with a speech on math’s applications in dating, said he was excited about the prospect of improving his public speaking skills and reaching a wider audience for his ideas.

Some of Harvard's peer universities including Yale and Stanford have held similar TEDx events.

–Staff writer Caleb O. Shelburne can be reached at Follow him on twitter @caleboshelburne.

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