TEDxIndianaUniversity will be holding its annual conference at 6 p.m. March 4 at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater.
This is the first in-person conference the organization is holding in over two years. It is also being held during a different time of year, as it’s typically held in the fall.
There are a few reasons why this year’s conference will be held in the spring, the main one being the pandemic. The last in-person conference was held in 2019 and themed “Entropy.”
Entropy means something lacks order. The “Entropy”-themed conference tackled the lack of order and predictability in the world around us, offering solutions on how to work with the chaos to add meaning to our lives. Then, in March 2020, the pandemic hit the U.S.
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The fall of 2020 was when the club originally planned to have their “When a Tree Falls” conference. However, the pandemic was still too dangerous at that point, so they moved it to spring of 2021, hoping to keep the event in person. To prioritize safety, though, “When a Tree Falls” was held virtually.
“We went through several iterations of planning it,” Matthew Eitel, IU senior and advisor on TEDxIndianaUniversity’s executive board, said. “At one point it was supposed to be an all in-person conference, then it went to kind of a hybrid conference.”
According to Eitel, the group was going to put on an outdoor conference at Dunn Meadow. However, TEDxIU was eventually forced to create the all-virtual conference they did in late March 2021.
This year, though, circumstances have allowed for the conference to be held in person.
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This year’s theme, “Playground,” aims to take audiences on a trip down memory lane, referencing the time spent on playgrounds as children. According to TEDxIU’s website, it is meant to be an opportunity for audiences to reflect on different aspects of their childhoods and how both the good and the bad aspects of childhood affected them.
The conference has a lineup of seven speakers who will share their perspectives with the audience.
Dr. Andreas Bueckle, a research scientist in IU’s Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering
Dr. Katie Dieter, the associate director of African and African American Studies at Stanford University
Heather Brizzi, a Navy veteran and aviation engineer
Quincy Owens, an Indianapolis-based sculpture artist
Navkiran Natt, a student youth activist and media researcher
Max Mowitz, the Program Director at One Iowa, Iowa’s statewide LGBTQ advocacy organization
Jon Racek, a multidisciplinary designer and faculty member at IU.
There are more logistical elements involved in putting on an in-person conference. The organization has to reserve the theater, ensure all of the speakers have hotels and food, and supply transportation, said Molly Carpenter, IU junior and president of TEDxIU.
“We’re super excited about the engagement aspect, (which is) a really big part of it,” Carpenter said. “We get to have more interaction with the audience, audience members can interact with each other, and we have a lot of fun activities that are interactive for all of our attendees to enhance the experience of the conference.”
For some, this live conference is a sign of things returning to normal.
“The community is anxious to get back to in person, and I think there’s lots of excitement for students and outside communities,” Karen Kenny, a faculty advisor to TEDxIU, said. “I think it’ll be nice to get back to something normal.”