Austin College will host the third annual TEDxAustinCollege on Sept. 29 in an event that will feature short talks by six members of the Austin College community amid interactive TEDx programming and TED Talk videos. The talks will be preceded and followed by the lobby experience “Discovery Depot,” which will provide opportunities to interact with ideas and fellow TEDx participants. The event takes place in Wright Campus Center, with Main Stage talks in Mabee Hall and live simulcast viewing in alternate locations. The independently organized event, licensed by TED, will feature local voices and TED Talk videos under the theme of “Changing Currents.”


Advance ticket registration opens online in July and will close Sept. 24. Seating for the live Main Stage event is limited, with tickets at $30 and discounted tickets for educators and students at $15. Lunch is included in the Main Stage ticket price. Seating for the simulcast is free, but advance registration is required.


“Austin College fosters innovative ideas on a daily basis, both within the community and globally,” senior Femy Varghese, who chairs the executive planning team of students, said. “These professors, students and alumni extend their knowledge wherever they go. With this being our third year, we look for this progress to expand further as we spread ideas not only locally but all over the world.”


TEDxAustinCollege was conceived in 2016 by members of the Austin College chapter of the national service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega. Rather than organize a service project with limited reach, the students sought a project with the potential to engage individuals beyond the local community.


This year’s TEDxAustinCollege speakers will be Anissa Centers, from the Class of 1993, on personal effectiveness; Bagby on risk taking and culture immersion; Devin Gonier, from the Class of 2009 on science and the morality of artificial intelligence; Associate Professor of English Randi Tanglen on women’s rights and activism; Aly Tharp, from the Class of 2012 on community activism and climate justice; and the Rev. John Williams, from the Class of 1984, on the human rights of marginalized people.


Varghese said TEDxAustinCollege has engaged the larger Austin College community, from local businesses to alumni.


“Our goal for the Sept. 29 event is for everyone to walk away learning something new, acknowledging a different viewpoint, and challenging those around them,” she said.


One of the speakers at this year’s TEDxAustinCollege event will be sophomore Shelby Bagby.


“I have aspired to give a TED Talk ever since the first one I saw, and I never dreamed I would be given this opportunity as an undergraduate student,” Bagby said. “I hope the listeners walk away with the empowering confidence to strike up conversations in a new language, eager to change the notion that only bilinguals can talk.”


Alpha Phi Omega sponsor and Austin College chemistry faculty member John Richardson said he believes TEDxAustinCollege has the opportunity to bring the rest of the world into the engaging, provocative and life-changing conversations that occur daily on the campus.


“Rarely do we get to celebrate monumental accomplishments,” Richardson said. “But this year, we get to celebrate a milestone of significant importance to all people as we remember the struggle for equality in education. This year’s TEDxAustinCollege theme reminds us of the part we play in making the small changes that have lasting impact on the people around us and the place we live.”


TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to ideas worth spreading, usually in the form of short talks delivered by the day’s leading thinkers and doers. TED’s open and free initiatives for spreading ideas include TED.com, where new TED Talk videos are posted daily; the Open Translation Project, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as translations from thousands of volunteers worldwide; the educational initiative TED-Ed; the annual million-dollar TED Prize, which funds exceptional individuals with a “wish,” or idea, to create change in the world; TEDx, which provides licenses to thousands of individuals and groups who host local, self- organized TED-style events around the world; and the TED Fellows program, which selects innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.


Austin College was founded in 1849 and is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter.