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TEDx event to explore ‘Common Ends’

April 7, 2017

The ending of the Offer of the College—“And to cooperate with others for common ends”—serves as the inspiration for Bowdoin’s first-ever TEDx event entitled “Common Ends,” which will take place Sunday at 11 a.m. in Kresge Auditorium.

“We decided on ‘Common Ends’ because it’s vague enough where we can attach many different ideas to it,” said Kevin Trinh ’19, president of TEDxBowdoin and the event’s lead organizer. “The idea is that ideas can come from a bunch of different disciplines and that they’re all interconnected.”

The talks delivered at the event will follow the rules outlined by the TEDx organization, including that they cannot have a political, business or socio-economic agenda and that they cannot be argumentative in nature. In accordance with TEDx policy, speakers are not paid and only 100 individuals are allowed to attend.

Tickets are now sold out, but Trinh said individuals may be admitted on the day of the event if seats become available. Fewer than half of the students who applied to deliver talks were accepted. One of the three student speakers, Hideyoshi Akai ’19, will address his thoughts on the current generation’s relationship with technology.

“I feel like the presence [of smartphones] is so dominant in our society and because technology has become so accessible to a lot of people we never really question our relationship or ponder their effects upon our actions,” said Akai. “And I observed some strange or questionable behaviors that were caused by smartphones.”

Akai cited experiences in his hometown of Tokyo as the inspiration for his talk.

“When I get on a train, every single passenger is on their phone, and when I see them it’s a very strange scene to me,” said Akai. “I felt very strange about what I was seeing and that’s when I started wondering why I find that very strange, and then I kind of started exploring what really bothered me.”

The event’s organizers sought to recruit faculty, alumni and prominent Mainers. One of the speakers, Visiting Assistant Professor of Physics Juan Burciaga will speak about the liberal arts.

“I think the environment [at Bowdoin] is a really good match for who I am and what I want to do,” said Burciaga. “I started studying the liberal arts, asking myself how does it work? What are the liberal arts? How do we plan our courses? How can we best prepare students for the future?”

Both Akai and Burciaga felt that TEDx, which is a new club at Bowdoin this year, gave them a unique opportunity.

“If I were to stand up and give a normal lecture in the liberal arts, I don’t think it would draw much of a crowd,” said Burciaga. “But in a TEDx format, I think people would come just because it’s a TED format. I think it gives you an audience that’s willing to listen.”

Akai echoed a similar sentiment, adding that the chance to present his ideas with an audience and the possibility of this talk being shared online is special for him.

“Being able to communicate my ideas in front of people, to be able to speak for this very well-known, prestigious organization, and the possibility of my talk being on a TEDx YouTube channel and the lead for my idea can be shared with a larger community is very special,” said Akai. “I’m giving a talk because I think my ideas are worth spreading.”

The event’s speakers are Akai, Burciagi, Julianna Courard-Hauri ’18, Danielle Horne ’20, Vice President of Marketing at Lego Michael Moynihan ’89, Mainer and Former Senior Foreign Policy Adviser to the House of Representatives Caitie Whelan and President and CEO of Maine Coastal Botanical Gardens Bill Cullina.


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