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TED Talks Unite the Campus Community

Ted Talks
Drew Chin facilitates the group discussion with questions that lead everyone to consider their lives both inside and outside of Davidson.

TED Tuesdays occur every Tuesday in the Multicultural House during the campus common hour from 11:05 a.m. to 12:05 p.m.

The Davidson Women's Action Committee (DWAC) and For Loving Yourself (FLY) co-hosted the first TED Tuesday Takeover this past Tuesday, focusing on themes of body language and body image.

TED Tuesdays are a recent initiative to unite the entire campus by allowing students, faculty, and staff to meet one another, eat lunch, and watch a TED Talk followed by a discussion.

According to Assistant Director of Human Resources and co-founder of TED Tuesdays Drew Chin, the idea dates back to Conversations with Carol, a lunchtime opportunity for staff to discuss pressing issues at Davidson with President Quillen.

"There was emphasis on meeting across different departments and breaking down silos, so we said, let's bring folks together that either like TED Talks or would like to learn about them," he said. "The idea is that anyone can come, anyone can host, and it's not committee driven. It's a complete community initiative."

TED Tuesdays expanded to provide campus groups, including student organizations, offices, and departments, with the opportunity to host by choosing the talk and leading the discussion. Chin approached the organization about hosting a TED Tuesday based on gender roles and how they play out on campus after attending the DWAC's luncheon on men and women in the workplace.

"We hosted in hopes that people would take away a curiosity about what we do and a desire to engage with others on campus about topics we're passionate about," said Sarah Gustafson '14, a founding member of the DWAC.

The organization selected a TED Talk called "Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are," which Gustafson said proposed an interesting way to think about how our body language can be empowering in addition to being a source of judgment. Co-host FLY selected "Looks Aren't Everything. Believe me, I'm a Model" to foster discussion about how looks are perceived in different contexts.

"After watching the talk on body language, I felt empowered to try out some of the practices that the speaker mentioned to improve my confidence and how I present myself," said Rebecca Merrifield '14 who will soon prepare for interviews and the job search.

On weeks without hosts, Chin sends an email to those who have expressed interest in attending that includes a poll on three talks he selects according to what's relevant to Davidson at the time. He explained, "One week we watched a talk about fear because it was the beginning of the semester, and everyone's apprehensive about something. Another week we watched ‘the hidden influence of social networks,' because we are trying to build networks at the college and TED Tuesdays even serve as an example of that."

Everyone has a reason for attending. Merrifield had watched inspiring TED Talks before and wanted to see how they would be used to address topics relevant to Davidson. On the other hand, Mike Goode, Assistant Director of Davidson Outdoors, was new to TED Talks. "I liked the thought of speaking with people about ideas, but beyond the topic, it's the opportunity to have discussions and see people outside of my typical work day," he said.

Once TED Tuesdays build a consistent retention, Chin plans to create an e-learning community through a website, twitter, or blog that would post the videos from last week and reflections on them. He hopes that Davidson will eventually host a TEDxDavidson, in which faculty, staff, and local talent could speak.

"A wider campus initiative is to gain visibility, and this is one way to do that because it can be renewed annually and brings new people to campus," Chin said.