To move a Mountain: Sewanee to host TEDx event

By Dixon Cline
Staff Writer

TED, or the Technology, Entertainment, and Design organization, is heading to the Domain. On November 11, the University announced via email that Sewanee will host a TEDx event on March 28 at the Tennessee Williams Center. The theme of the talk is Moving Mountains.

According to the email, and its associated website, “TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience.” The TED conference will still play a role in guiding the event, but it will still be primarily run by the Sewanee community. Community members were invited to nominate speakers for the event by November 18 via the event email, afterward, they will go through screening and auditions.

The TEDxUniversityoftheSouth Team includes Elon Epps (C’20) serving as the team’s CEO, the vice president of Risk Management Eric Hartman, Caitlin Berends (C‘20), Assistant Professor and Politics and Women’s and Gender Studies Paige Schneider, Karen Proctor, Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Women’s and Gender Studies Melody Lehn, Technical Director of the Tennessee Williams Center John Marshall, Buck Butler (C’89), Dirk Kayitare (C’22), Liam Corley (C’20), and Morgan Jennings (C’20).

In explaining the motive for hosting a TEDx event, the team told The Purple that “In our community, we value cultural traditions, intellectual pursuits, nature’s beauty, and deep relationships.” The team is wanting to focus on culture and change in the community, and thus the theme of the evening is Moving Mountains. This is in honor of the Mountain, one of the terms which refers to Sewanee community. The TEDx event aims to challenge and inspire positive change on the Mountain.

According to the team, in order to host a TEDx event on a university campus, the event organizers must receive permission from the school as well as apply for a TEDx license. During the licensing process, event organizers will learn the rules regarding naming the event, selecting speakers, and general guidelines for the event. The TEDx event rules can be found on the TED website.

In regards to selecting speakers, the TEDxUniversityoftheSouth team is tasked with screening out those who would use the stage to peddle their own products, political or religious beliefs, or pseudoscience. The TEDx Content Guidelines provide these regulations but does acknowledge that “these guidelines will likely change over time as we run into new challenges and come across new issues.” 

TED reserves the right to remove footage of speakers that violate the Content Guidelines in extreme cases. This is not meant to discourage speakers, but to ensure that TED events remain home for “ideas worth spreading,” according to the TEDx Content Guidelines. The team hopes to have speakers from a multitude of disciplines. The nominees will go through auditions on December 4 and 5, and in total 10 speakers will be announced on December 13.