November 12, 2014

By William Harvey ’18


On Sunday, Nov. 16, at 11 a.m. in Kirby Theater, the College will host its second collection of TEDxAmherstCollege talks. An initiative of the Center for Community Engagement, TEDxAmherstCollege is a student-coordinated series of short speeches by alumni, facultya student and others that promote a spread of ideas and interaction between members of different communities.

This year’s theme is “Defining Moments,” which allows speakers to discuss a pivotal moment in their own life experiences. Other orators—such as Ashley Burns, assistant professor of political science—will also share their expertise on defining moments in history and culture.

“I think we’ve done a very good job of obtaining a diverse array of speakers in terms of race, gender, geography, profession and background,” said Terry Lee ’17, coordinator of the event.  “We factored all those things when we made our selection to give TEDxAmherstCollege a good focus on diversity.”

While most speakers are alumni or faculty, theTEDxAmherstCollege board offered one student, Sheila Chukwulozie ’16, the opportunity to lead a lecture as well. Auditions for students were held at the beginning of the year, and a panel of the College’s professors and faculty chose Chukwulozie to represent the student body.

The TEDx program allows individual communities to host their own speeches in a style similar to nonprofit organization TED. Through a combination of live speakers and short pre-recorded TED Talks, TEDx events encourage open discussion of ideas and issues. In order to become a registered event, groups must seek approval from TED and undergo a rigorous selection process.

TEDxAmherstCollege was founded last year by Xiangyu Zhao ’14, and managed to draw in over 320 students. This year, Lee said they expect to cap at the maximum number of 380 students. If this year goes well, the TEDxAmherstCollege committee hopes to make TEDxAmherstCollege an annual event.

“We plan on growing it every year. What you’ll see this year is an evolution from last year, and next year will expand upon our efforts. Different organizers will bring in something new to make a well-rounded program.”

New to this year’s talks are a series of six individual panels held by speakers prior to the main TEDxAmherstCollege event, Lee added. By affiliating with individual student groups Amherst Political Union, La Causa, The EDU, Outing Club and LEADs, the smaller discussions will offer a more intimate setting for the exploration of issues that affect both Amherst and the global community.

“We don’t always have enough engagement on campus between students and staff, students and administrators, or students and other students,” he said. “I think a big event like this can bridge the gap and brings us all together.”

Tickets for TEDxAmherstCollege are available online for free at