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TEDxLSU brought innovative thinkers, creatives together

LSU and the Baton Rouge community celebrated innovative Louisianans and ideas on March 9 as the TEDxLSU took place in the Reilly Theatre at LSU.

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TEDxLSU speakers relax in the green room.

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Filmmaker Zack Godshall speaks with LSU graduate student Will Conlin.

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TEDxLSU attendees check in at the LSU Reilly Theatre.

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LSU Interim Chancellor and Interim President William Jenkins, seen here with LSU E. J. Ourso College of Business Professor Frances Lawrence, was on hand for the TEDxLSU presentations.

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LSU professor and TEDxLSU speaker Craig Freeman (center) speaks with attendees following his presentation.
Kristina Sutton

TEDxLSU 2013 is an independently organized event based on the theme of evolution – generating new thought by connecting existing resources. The inaugural event, TEDxLSU: Evolve, featured 26 speakers who each gave the ‘talk of their life' around the power of ideas.

The presenters included innovative thinkers, from both the university and the greater community who discussed their approaches to some of humanity's fundamental concerns. Their creativity stems from linking resource networks, exploring across disciplines, transgressing cultural boundaries, and seeking simple, tangible solutions.

This diverse group of thought leaders, maverick thinkers and achievers, entrepreneurs and innovators, and humanitarians educate, inspire and stimulate change and evolution with the ultimate goal being inspired action across our communities.

Speakers at the event included:

  • Casey Phillips, entrepreneur/community activist
  • Jacques Rodrigue, arts advocate/attorney
  • Camille Manning-Broome, entrepreneur/urban planner/environmentalist
  • Michael Desmond, LSU architecture professor
  • Jensen Moore, LSU professor of digital media & health communications
  • Jose A. Bowen, LSU educational curriculum design/musician/author
  • Kenny Nguyen, entrepreneur/Big Fish Presentations
  • Tucker Barry, community activist
  • Brian Dixon, LSU entrepreneur/author/radio host
  • Pat Fellows, entrepreneur
  • Zack Godshall, filmmaker
  • Jesse Allison, LSU professor of experimental music/digital media professor
  • Keith Comeaux, LSU/NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Mary Stein, innovator/library sciences
  • Anita Kruse, entrepreneur/musician/Purple Songs Can Fly
  • Craig Freeman, attorney/LSU Professor of public affairs
  • Zack Kopplin, science activist
  • Raymond Jetson, pastor, community empowerment
  • Gary Shaffer, professor, Southeastern Louisana University
  • Demetra Kandalepas, senior scientist, Wetland Resources LLC
  • Mark Martin, cycling enthusiast
  • Tracy Stephenson Shaffer, LSU professor of performance studies
  • Nick Hwang, student presenter
  • Will Conlin, student presenter
  • Prentiss Darden, student presenter
  • Kristen Hinton, student prenter

"I thought we accomplished everything we wanted to in terms of first-year goals," said Joey Watson, coordinator with LSU's Communication Across the Curriculum, or CxC, program, and a doctoral student in the LSU College of Music & Dramatic Arts.

Sponsored by the Janice H. Pellar Creative Arts Entrepreneurship Project at the LSU College of Music & Dramatic Arts, LSU's TEDx conference featured almost two dozen lecturers with speeches a maximum of 18 minutes long. In addition to the regular presenters, four LSU students won a coveted spot to present their TEDx idea by submitting a 500-word description of their idea or story along with a five minute YouTube video telling why they should present at the TEDxLSU event.

CxC helped to organize the logistics of the event, as well as its marketing. CxC Associate Director Rebecca Burdette said she couldn't have been more pleased with the way TEDxLSU went, and looks forward to next year's event.

"We were kind of inventing the wheel here with some of this," she explained. "We had so many generous people helping us out – all of our great sponsors. We're really hoping for the same support next year. And with the tickets we sold this year, we'll probably look into a larger venue."

"Of course we will assess and streamline for next year," added Watson. "I'd like to get more students engaged and presenting. I'd like to tier ticket prices. I'd like to have it in a bigger venue. But, at the end of the day, these events are about bringing our communities together for the passionate exchange of ideas. It's dialogic – we share stories with each other in the hopes of creating growth and change. A quick glance at either the Shaver or Reilly audience on Saturday, and you could tell that this worked. People were passionately engaged and are already hungry for next year. It's evolving. It's exciting and promising."

Attendees felt like the event has the potential to help bring the university and Baton Rouge community closer.

"The speakers were all wonderful and inspiring," said Jennifer Macha, instructor in the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication. "While the talks covered some very diverse ground, a strong underlying theme in all of them was community. They all touched on the power of building and utilizing a community."

Manship School Graduate Student Lance Bordelon found the talks inspiring.

"As a grad student, I always find myself trying to get to the 'so what' or 'why care' factors behind the pedagogy or scholastic works we study," he said. "And TEDxLSU did just that – it made classroom ideas graspable and relevant to enacting change in this world."

Both Macha and Bordelon like the idea of TEDxLSU becoming a regular event.

"I left the TED talks with hope for LSU's future as a nationally competitive intuition of higher education, as an innovative research resource for our state, and as a viable member of the local movement to repair and propel our larger community," Bordelon said.

"These people are all making a profound impact on the world we live in now and will live in – in the future," Macha said. "The highlight of my night was speaking with Keith Comeaux at the after party. He is the engineer that lead the NASA team in putting Curiosity, the rover, on Mars. He talk was fascinating and moving and being able to speak with him afterwards was incredible. My sons will read about him and his contribution to science in text books in the near future and I can't wait to tell them I had the privilege to meet him once."

Visit the TEDxLSU website for more details on the speakers – www.tedxlsu.com.

"Like" the TEDxLSU Facebook page and follow TEDxLSU on Twitter to get the most up-to-date information.