Interview: TEDx Lancaster University

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SCAN Business interviewed Ben Wallace, an exec of TEDx Lancaster University to talk about their annual main event on the 13th of May, where speakers and students get together to discuss and create change

DL: Could you tell us more about TEDx?

BW: To start off, TED is an event where in people come together in a conference sort of way and they discuss ideas, which is primarily the main aim of TED. Within TEDx, ‘x’ stands for ‘independent’ and that’s when people can bring TED into their local community and talk about issues closer to what people want to talk about. Here at Lancaster University, we want to address the idea of change because that’s quite popular amongst students, but also to talk about change in our lives when we are moving from students to adults and also primarily because there is quite a stigma against change and a lot of people are quite scared of the idea of change.
So we want to encourage positive change and that there is something we not always see.

DL: What’s the focus of the event for this year?

BW: Invisible Changes.
Changes aren’t always necessarily noticeable. Some of them are more mental than physical and some of them are just surroundings within your life and we just want to capture the essence of how change works, what is it and how you sort of can deal with it. It’s not something on everybody’s radar and you can then bring it up as a discussion, spread ideas and get people thinking, which is the primary concern.

DL: How do you plan on getting TEDx on to the platform? How many speakers will be there?

BW: In terms of the event, we have 16 confirmed speakers for the event on the 13th of May. There are some big names but we are a little reluctant to share because we want to save it for closer to the event date. All I can say is that we have some really exciting speakers coming, big names from big companies talking about big changes and this is quite exciting.

It is going to be a four-hour event where the 16 speakers will give their opinion on a certain area of change or how change has been important in their lives. The speakers are from a diverse range of fields, ranging from CFO’s, to students working on campus, to people working in environmental changes. We even have a refugee coming in and presenting about how change has affected their lives.
So it certainly is an interesting range because we feel that everyone deserves a voice on the TED platform and want to give everybody an opportunity and through these speakers, we just want to capture that idea of how change isn’t just one single thing.
The quote that we based our event around is
‘Change is the only constant in our lives’ – Heraclitus
and that was the inspiration for us to do that event.

DL:How do you think students are going to benefit from the event?

BW:There is a lot to take of out this. We are discussing whether students can be allowed to meet the speakers to get inspired and motivated, so that is one avenue they would benefit from first hand. Other things that people can get out of the event is simply this new outlook of change; on this vision of change where we can look at the intricacies of it and analyse it together, discuss it and go forward with a new approach to change that we may not have had before the event. It’s basically more of a platform of discussion than lectures.

DL:How different is this event to the other events TEDx Lancaster organizes?

BW: That’s a good question. One of our main drivers forward is that this is a very professional event organised by the students with a vision. You can of course say the same for a lot of different events but what is different about this event is that TED really wants to drive the world. So what we want to do is change a complete view of people.

We aren’t trying to lecture people, we aren’t trying to inform people, we are trying to educate people who primarily want to discuss, talk and spread ideas and that adds a really collaborative feel to TED, which is what I feel is important and what people can take away from it. It’s potentially contacts and networks and a feeling of grasping something that they’ve never experienced before. Don’t forget the good food!

Brilliant thing about this year is that our members are getting actively involved and conducting market research and are suggesting ideas that you’ve never heard before.
With an organizing team, your ideas can be very limited and you can end up in a scenario where you have a chain of power. Differently, we want people coming in and telling us externally about what we should do.
So unlike previous years, this year we’ve managed to make it much more specialized towards students. We have included a TEDx Village where we will have activities and also have societies coming in and talk about how they spread ideas and open discussions in new ways.

DL: Let’s talk about TEDx as a society? What has the transformation from an organizing team to a society given to you?

Talking about Ted as a society, we have actually been able to help ourselves out. Now that we are a society members have been helping TEDx in their own independent way, by spreading the word and that’s where we as a society can collaborate along the way.
We do have events that take place regularly around the term, some of these are TEDx Chill-Out sessions and the basis of them is another taster session, getting more live speakers coming but they are going to be giving examples of what the actual event is going to be like, watch TED videos together, discuss them and create activities that are open to members and volunteers.

DL: What about the ticket prices? How many people do you plan to accommodate at once?

BW: With regards to tickets, we can sell around 100 tickets and we have noticed from previous years that we begin the sale at the start of the summer term but they sell out very quickly. We will be around campus but you can follow our Facebook page to keep yourself updated. 

Ticket prices are £15 pounds for students and £25 pounds for everyone else.
If students want to become a member, they get it at a discounted price and at the same time, you can reserve a seat.