Inaugural ‘TEDxUVA’ Kicks Off Saturday at the University of Virginia

April 18, 2013

A slate of speakers on topics ranging from civic activism to religion will present Saturday during the first-ever TEDxUVA, an independently organized series of “TED talks” put together by students at the University of Virginia.

The TED franchise (which originally stood for “Technology, Entertainment and Design”), owned by the nonprofit Sapling Foundation, is dedicated to the concept of “ideas worth spreading” and has been organizing talks since 1984. These increasingly popular lectures – many posted online ­– usually consist of experts breaking down a concept or idea for public consumption.

Tickets for the U.Va. event are sold out, but organizers have set up a free viewing party where the speakers will be live-streamed, said Porter Nenon, a first-year student in the College of Arts & Sciences who co-curated the event with Trisha Cruz, a fourth-year student in the College.

The event will also be streamed live  on the TEDxUVA website.

TEDxUVA begins at 10 a.m. in the Nau Hall Auditorium. The viewing party is in Minor Hall, room 125. The event is scheduled to include 12 speakers (see below) and student emcee Ali Stoner, and is set to run until 3 p.m.

“At the viewing party, the talks will be projected on a screen and we’ll have some staff from our organizing team there to try and give it as much of a TED feel as we can,” Nenon said. “The only rule is that you can’t enter or leave the room during a talk.” 

“TEDx” events, or independently organized TED talks, have sprung up across the country. Organizational efforts for the U.Va. event began in January and now include a team of 22 students, Nenon said.

TEDxUVA is organized around the theme “reinventing the wheel,” and includes a slate of speakers that draws from both the U.Va. faculty and outside experts. The talks are on a range of subjects, including civic activism, drama, education, entrepreneurship, international relations, law, literature and poetry, local food and sustainable eating, music and religion. 

“TED gives you a pretty substantial amount of freedom to celebrate a local atmosphere and a local array of voices,” Nenon said.

The national organizations limits the first year of a TEDx event to 100 attendees, and the available seats were spoken for well in advance of the event, organizers said. However, Nenon said he anticipates that TEDxUVA will continue beyond this weekend.

“It’s exciting to think about where TED will go in the future,” he said. “We’re hoping to have at least one conference each year, and we’re already thinking about other conferences and things we can do to bring more of the TED atmosphere to U.Va.”

The TEDxUVA speakers are scheduled to include:

  • Gretchen Wallace, nonprofit manager, Global Grassroots
  • Jennifer Scappettone, poet, assistant English professor at U.Va.
  • Ross Baird, venture capitalist, Village Capital
  • Spencer Ingram, entrepreneur, founder and leader of HackCville
  • Pamela Moran, superintendent, Albemarle County Public Schools
  • Marie Schacht, program manager, Morven Farm
  • Allen Groves, Dean of Students, U.Va.
  • A representative from Charlottesville Lady Arm Wrestlers
  • A representative from the Local Food Hub
  • Cass Sackett, scientist, associate professor of experimental atomic, molecular and optical physics at U.Va.
  • Alan Webb, education, Open Master’s Program

More on the speakers is available online.

Media Contact

Rob Seal

Director of Media Management and Managing Editor, UVA Today Office of University Communications