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Student organization facilitates research, discussion similar to TED talks

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The Omega Point Club at OSU is meant to be a forum for people to share ideas that will be important in the future for students. Credit: Robert Scarpinito / Lantern reporter

The Omega Point Club at OSU is meant to be a forum for people to share ideas that will be important in the future for students. Credit: Robert Scarpinito / Lantern reporter

Through research, presentations and open-forum discussions, Ohio State students in the Omega Point Club are sharing their progressive ideas each week in an attempt to encourage others to think about the problems of the future.

The club is meant to be a forum for people to share ideas that will be important in the future for students, and each presentation should be supported with sound research, said Mike Burnham, a fourth-year in physics and president of the club.

“As students, we’re not authorities in any field, but I don’t think that means we have nothing to say,” Burnham said. “I think students have a lot to say, so if we have sources and say things that are educated and we’re passionate about it, I wanted to give students a platform to stand on.”

Other leaders of the club, such as secretary Tyler Fischer, often compare the style of their presentations to TED talks.

“We know students on this campus have big ideas and have opinions on current events or issues that we’re facing today, and we want students to be able to have somewhere to share their opinion in a judgment-free environment,” said Fischer, a second-year in mechanical engineering.

TED is an organization dedicated to “ideas worth spreading,” which commonly shares short presentations from speakers “from every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world,” according to its website.

What makes the Omega Point Club different from TED, however, is that the group has an open forum after a presentation, facilitating discussion between the audience and the presenter, Burnham said.

The group held its first meeting on March 30 and featured a presentation by Burnham, who talked about global warming and then fostered discussion afterward.

“We had a roundtable discussion, and Mike perpetuated it with some questions and food for thought, and it really just took off. I was worried about people being awkward and silent, but everyone really had something to contribute,” said Cary Bauer, the treasurer of the club and a third-year in finance.

At its second meeting on Monday, Bauer talked about transportation and possible alternatives for the future, and Fischer gave a presentation about genetically modified organisms and future food shortage.

For the first few weeks, board members will be giving presentations to set the format of the club, Burnham said, and other students can sign up to give their own presentations toward the end of the semester and throughout the next school year as long as they are dedicated to researching the topic and it isn’t offensive.

“Once you’re in the door, I think you’ll find out that it’s really cool stuff with really interesting discussions. It’s my hope that students take this and run with it rather than come and watch,” Bauer said.

The Omega Point Club is named after French philosopher and archaeologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s theory that “the universe is evolving toward a state of higher complexity and understanding,” Burnham said. The peak point of complexity is the Omega Point, he added.

The adviser of the club, Courtney McGinty, a lecturer in the Department of Psychology, said she fully supports the members because they are actively learning and sharing that with others.

“They’re interested in really starting conscious conversations about real-world issues, and it seems like they’re really bringing together what they’ve learned throughout their entire tenure at OSU,” McGinty said.

Burnham is graduating in the spring, but he hopes the club will continue to exist at OSU.

“I won’t be able to see it take off, but I wanted to create something like this because I felt like … it could enrich student culture,” he said. “Young people these days are preoccupied with partying and binge drinking and all that stuff, and I think it’s great to be young and wild sometimes, but we’re also an intellectual environment and I feel like people should encourage that.”

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