From The Ubyssey:
Sometimes the best ideas come at the most unexpected of times. For the co-founders of the Terry Project, Allen Sens and David Ng, the idea to start a branch of TEDx Talks at UBC came over a cup of coffee.
According to Sens, it was former dean of Arts Nancy Gallini that brought the two together for that fateful hot beverage.
“She had no idea what would happen, but put us in contact. Out of that grew the idea for this project that would help bridge the gap between the major disciplines of the university. The project then essentially grew out of a cup of coffee.”
Now in its fifth year, The Terry Project is a flourishing organization under the TED umbrella.
As a non-profit whose mission statement is “ideas worth spreading,” TED biannually invites speakers from all ranges of disciplines to talk about big concepts. Themes include everything from technology to entertainment, with the aim of inspiring audiences to change themselves and, eventually, the world.
As a branch of TED, TEDx gives smaller communities the chance to independently coordinate similar conferences on a local level. The goal of the Terry Project? To ignite interdisciplinary dialogue among students.
The program emerged out of a belief that students don’t really have the opportunity to interact with others who are not in the same program.
According to Gallini, despite the limited electives students need to take outside of their discipline, “it wasn’t clear that [students] had real opportunities to interact, debate, engage in problem-solving [or] think deeply about complex global issues.”
With the emergence of the Terry Project, students now have plenty of opportunities to get involved and give a talk about something that inspires them. Applications are typically due during the beginning of the school year.
But giving a talk is not the only opportunity that the Terry Project offers. Those interested can attend lectures presented by global speakers and fellow students, listen to Terry podcasts, read blogs, take the ASIC 200 course and expose themselves to new ideas.
“[The Terry Project] is an extraordinary program of learning, debate, discovery in the arts and sciences.… It represents among the best of our UBC learning community,” said Gallini.
Former UBC student Mollie Deyong found out about the Terry Project simply through word of mouth. “It definitely opened my eyes to the opportunities out there, and you meet so many different types of people,” she said.
Chad Hyson, senior student development officer, stressed that the program values bringing students on board. “They do a lot of the legwork in bringing speakers; they do a lot of research on who’s out there doing interesting things and who would give a great talk.”
Students can also give their feedback on who they want to give a talk; the Terry staff are open to different themes and ideas.
This year, renowned author Margaret Atwood will be a guest speaker on November 22. It has been a long process to track her down, as speakers like Atwood are in high demand.
But for Ng, TEDxTerryTalks is not just about guest speakers of national acclaim.
“In the end, the TEDxTerryTalks is all about the student speakers and the amazing insights and stories they’ll share with us…. In a world where it’s sometimes too easy to be pessimistic about the future, it’s a place where you can see how students can give you a lot to be optimistic about.”