Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Sixth Year of TEDx Raises the Bar, Sets Precedent for Next Year

Courtesy of Furman Athletics

On Feb. 17, Furman hosted its sixth annual TEDx conference. Featuring speeches on a wide array of topics such as addiction, wrongful conviction and video-game design, this year’s conference was a success.

Payton Isner 19’ has been working with TEDx since his freshman year. Isner was initially drawn to TEDx because it gave people a platform to express innovative ideas.

Isner quickly became a leader at TEDx. As a sophomore he served as Communications Director; and this year, Isner also contributed as TEDx Organizer. His tasks included increasing outreach in the Greenville community, encouraging student involvement and bringing in top notch outside speakers.

Isner envisioned a ¨world class TEDx event.” The stats surrounding this year’s top notch conference reflect a step in that direction.

He cited that interest in speaking at TEDx among students was higher than ever before. Only 12 speakers are accepted into the program. Narrowing down the 70 applicants makes the event extremely competitive.

The TEDx team was rewarded for their effort, however, when the event completely sold out and doubled the amount of attendees from last year. “The goal for the future is to sell out McAllister,” Isner said.

TEDx at Furman has ambitious aims. In the future, TEDx wants to not only put on a great event, but to improve the spectator experience as well. To accomplish that, Isner suggested more hands on activities for the audience and more community partners working alongside TEDx. Hence, ¨the main focus will not just be hearing new ideas, but learning how you can spread them,” Isner said.

The TEDx program will soon begin to make initial plans for next year’s seventh annual conference at Furman.

TEDx and Furman have formed a mutually beneficial partnership. Furman provides facilities to TEDx, and in turn, TEDx brings new ideas to Furman. Isner believes the success of this partnership is due to a collective interest in confronting communities with progressive ideas. ¨I think the idea of having these conversations is very representative of Furman,¨ Isner said.

The conversations at this year’s TEDx were powerful. Anna Ford Pittard 21’ said that ¨the speakers were vulnerable in a way that is so rare to find in today’s society.” Isner agreed. He was particularly impressed by Sam Fowler’s story of how addiction affected her family. “The way she delivered it was so compelling and made me change my views on addiction,¨ Isner said. He praised all of the speakers.

Truly, TEDx is a valuable aspect of intellectual life at Furman. It encourages curiosity, inspires activism and eliminates apathy. Those who attend the annual conference, which Isner iterates is only made possible by the TEDx team, come away affected with new, innovative ideas. In the future, perhaps those ideas will not be confined to TEDx, but carried out on campus, at a college that is ready to welcome change.

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