The annual TEDxTAMU 2021 conference is bringing together an influential group of speakers to discuss diverse topics and spark inspiring conversations.
TEDxTAMU is an independently organized, officially licensed TEDx program that aligns with the TED vision. The TEDxTAMU is organized exclusively by Texas A&M students, who have produced six conferences since 2013. The conferences are typically one-day events consisting of 10 to 12 speakers, each narrating on a unifying theme. The theme for the 2021 conference is “Odyssey,” and the event will take place on Sunday, March 14.
TEDxTAMU and MSC ALOT Executive Director Andy Doyle said the 2021 theme “Odyssey” represents a journey that promotes profound change.
“Nominations for speakers are opened once every academic year,” Doyle said. “Once nominated, we invite nominees to submit a brief recording of why they want to give a talk. As a [TEDxTAMU] staff, we watch the submitted videos and pick a diverse group of speakers whose talks relate to our theme.”
A comprehensive list of the 2021 speakers and their biographies can be found on the TedxTAMU website and Facebook, along with announcements and updates on Instagram. The website also has recordings of past conferences and information on the virtual TEDxTAMUSalon series.
“The 2021 speakers have made global impacts in the fields of healthcare, international development, visual art and education,” Doyle said. “All of the speakers have had one-of-a-kind journeys and experiences, but the lessons they’ve learned are applicable to all students.”
TEDxTAMU audiences are predominantly students and community members, Doyle said. Previous TEDxTAMU talk topics have ranged from transcontinental bike expeditions to experiences as a reality TV contestant. Doyle said TEDxTAMU is proud to promote a conference experience that appeals to a diverse group of interests.
“As Texas A&M continues to become more diverse with students' ideas, experiences and backgrounds, students will be inspired to find new ways to challenge their own beliefs and expose themselves to new ways of thinking,” Doyle said. “I definitely think that TEDxTAMU can be what those students are looking for to expand their horizons.”
TEDxTAMU has adapted its marketing efforts to be entirely online due to COVID-19, and Doyle said the event will also be livestreamed .
“We’re looking at a really safe experience at Rudder Theatre,” Doyle said. “We’re assigning members to their own seats that are socially distanced, and we are also requiring face coverings when attending.”
The conference will also feature a student art exhibit and intermission performances between talks, Doyle said; there will be a lounge where attendees can livestream the talks and hold group discussions.
Previous TEDxTAMU events have achieved much publicity: One 2017 TEDxTAMU talk has 9.2 million views on YouTube, and the 2019 virtual conference was viewed 19,000 times according to Doyle.
TEDxTAMU university license holder and organizer Kendall Walker said the conference’s prior success motivates the organization to set higher expectations and further evolve.
“We are focusing on creating an amazing conference experience for all involved,” Walker said. “It is certainly a labor of love, and we hope to grow the program to the next level in coming years especially post-COVID[-19].”
According to the Spirit of Giving website, the TEDxTAMU student team is composed of 20 A&M freshmen and sophomores. Walker said the student team is the backbone of the program.
“They create marketing materials, host speaker practice sessions, fundraise and get into the nitty gritty for day-of logistics,” Walker said. “The students are 100 percent the driving force behind this program and its overall success.”
TEDxTAMU is currently taking donations through Spirit of Giving, A&M’s crowdfunding site, to aid current faculty, staff and student organizations. Contributions will help to further evolve the conference. Ticket information will be available soon and can be found on the TEDxTAMU website.