The annual TEDxCUNY conference returned after a year’s hiatus last season, and continued despite the cold weather after over a year spent planning for March 10 at the New York Hall of Science.
Featuring 10 different speakers and a few workshop opportunities, the largest public university TEDx conference in New York City represents over 20 institutions with a population of over 500,000 students.
In a digital age and a network that large, it’s no surprise that this year’s theme was circuits: the connectivity that exists between a diversity of ideas, people, and places. Coordinator Joy Nuga, a senior Hunter College student, said the venue this year matched the theme and additionally allowed conference visitors to “roam the museum for free.”
One speaker was Brooklyn College alumna Hannah Kit, who immigrated into the United States from Ukraine in 2007. Kit is currently focusing work on an outreach program targeting Ukrainian and Russian populations about human trafficking, years after her mother was recognized as a victim of human trading and exploitation.
Discussions were also led on how connectivity affects our emotions, how it can be used for social good, and what inspired many like Nuga to take part in the conference: cybersecurity policies.
But it wasn’t all talk. The conference also included a workshop by a company called Carto about their efforts on open data and a new location intelligence technology, where data can be collected to make an educated prediction for future decisions in fields like business and health.
Another workshop was based on personal storytelling and held by The Moth, a company whose message is to foster the growth of voices underrepresented in mainstream media.
Also at the event were tablings with representatives from Planned Parenthood and DoSomething.org, meant to inspire students to take initiative in their personal life and surrounding community.
For senior student organizer, Linda Lu, the power of the conference was its “appeal to the entire CUNY population,” and after a yearlong hiatus to reform the structure and organization of the event, the new recruits began to build towards solidifying TEDx as a more permanent CUNY-wide event.
From the Brooklyn College branch, coordinator Caroline Zuba said the event itself is “a huge team effort and entirely student run. It requires a lot of fundraising.”
The work of putting the event together is dedicated to a horde of wildly different committees in pulling the capital together, which Nuga said was hard to solidify “because of the unique structure.”
Lu said that going to a commuter school can mean that “students don’t get to interact with other students” the way they would in a private school, and “more kinds of events” like the TEDx conference are a great way to address that problem.
The three women, who are part of the original team and currently in their senior year, are hoping to find passionate recruits for the next conference.
Making sure not to forget, the students also attributed a large amount of credit to their sponsors, including the Brooklyn Hot Dog Company and the Peer Health exchange.