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TEDx to focus on the human narrative

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Some of the 13 total keynote speakers scheduled to present at the 4th TEDxOhioStateUniversity on Feb. 14 at Mershon Auditorium. The theme of this year's event, 'The Human Narrative,' highlights stories and ideas that represent a 'collective story.' Credit: Courtesy of OSU

Some of the 13 total keynote speakers scheduled to present at the 4th TEDxOhioStateUniversity on Feb. 14 at Mershon Auditorium. The theme of this year’s event, ‘The Human Narrative,’ highlights stories and ideas that represent a ‘collective story.’ Credit: Courtesy of OSU

Great ideas are always worth spreading, and 13 individuals will share their ideas with a packed Mershon Auditorium this Saturday.

The fourth annual TEDxOhioStateUniversity event will feature speakers from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines whose talks will fit into this year’s theme, The Human Narrative, said Shivang Patel, the curator of TEDxOhioStateUniversity.

“We came up with The Human Narrative because we wanted to have a theme that can encompass a lot of different stories and ideas,” Patel said. “We’re trying to find those stories and ideas that not only make individuals who they are, but also those stories that thread together all of us.”

TEDx conferences are offshoots of the original TED (Technology Entertainment Design) event held annually in Vancouver, British Columbia. It originally started as a conference for the convergence of technology, entertainment and design.

But now, the TEDx program allows people to independently run their own TED event, like the event hosted at Ohio State. The speakers at OSU will include department chairs, professors and both graduate and undergraduate students, according to its website.

“For TEDx, the Human Narrative is so broad. We have speakers that are going to talk about video-game violence (and) feminism,” said Stephen Snyder-Hill, a major in the U.S. Army Reserve who will be speaking at the event. “It’s just a neat thing that the audience is going to be exposed to all these different real aspects of life that they won’t be anticipating.”

Preparation for the event began with finding the speakers, and all speakers had to go through an application process run by TEDx. Patel said he and his team looked for ideas that pertained to OSU.

After the applicants were screened, they were each brought in for interviews with the TEDx staff, who decided on the 13 speakers for this year’s event, Patel said.

Snyder-Hill, author of the memoir “Soldier of Change: From the Closet to the Forefront of the Gay Rights Movement,” will chronicle his time in the military under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

“There’s just a draw for me to be in the military because everything in America stands for it,” Snyder-Hill said. “It feels so right to be in the military because everything we do is based on the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.”

In September 2011, after the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Snyder-Hill said he asked then-candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, Rick Santorum, through a YouTube video whether he would work against the progress made for LGBT service members.

The audience at the Republican debate then booed Snyder-Hill, leading him to become a vocal advocate for LGBT equality.

“I think what (the TEDx audience) can expect is definitely a really powerful, compelling story that shows if you trust and use the power of your voice, you can literally change the world,” Snyder-Hill said.

Department of Psychology chair Richard Petty, who holds a Ph.D. in social psychology, will speak at the TEDx event about a psychologist’s view of self-confidence.

“After they see what the research shows, what I’d like to do is dissuade people from the idea that confidence is always good, which is probably what most people would always think,” Petty said.

Petty said he studies confidence in detail, looking at where it comes from, why people desire it and what it actually does for people.

Another speaker is Damian Beauchamp, a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry who co-founded Kair Battery/Energy Systems LLC, a Columbus-based business that produces energy efficient potassium air battery energy storage systems. His talk will focus on the use and storage of energy, as he said he hopes the batteries Kair makes can decentralize the generation of energy by making cheaper batteries that can hold three times more energy and are nontoxic.

“Stationary energy storage (like large batteries) is going to completely change the world over the next five years,” Beauchamp said. “There’s mandates going in on all different states that are pushing it and it’s going to be a huge industry.”

A fourth speaker, Marisa McGrath, a fourth-year in international relations and women’s, gender and sexuality studies, said her talk will center on her journey with feminism.

“My talk is coming from personal experience,” McGrath said. “A lot of times feminism is regarded as this negative word, when it means a person who believes in the political, economic and social equality of the sexes, and in my personal case, it saved my life.”

McGrath said she focuses on equity between the sexes, emphasizing that all groups should be given equal access to everything.

“The safety … and the sanity I found in feminism validated my own personal narrative, and as I began to analyze things on a systemic level, I began to see the validation in everyone else’s experiences and that they’re inextricably tied together,” McGrath said.

McGrath is one of three undergraduate students speaking at the event, and although she doesn’t have a doctorate, she said she has “a valid story to tell, and (she thinks) that will shine through.”

Other speakers include professors John Beacom, David Ewoldsen, Cheryl London and Andrea Grottoli, senior lecturer Lisa Cravens-Brown and Department of Psychiatry chair John Campo, according to the TedxOhioStateUniversity website.

Fourth-year undergraduates Mushtaq Dualeh and Emmanuel Dzotsi will also speak, along with Charles Noble III, program manager of the Boys and Men of Color Initiative at the OSU’s Kirwan Institute.

“I’m really excited to see what we can do this year,” Patel said.

The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets, which are $10 for students and $20 for non-students, are sold out, but people who are interested can watch a live stream on the TedxOhioStateUniversity website.

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