TEDxSJU Invites Innovation and Social Thought

Student-led event brings social entrepreneurs to campus

Thursday, September 29, 2011

PHILADELPHIA (September 29, 2011) – On Oct. 13, Saint Joseph’s University’s Campus Commons, located on the James J. Maguire ’58 Campus, will be filled with the entrepreneurial spirit of nine community-minded self-starters as they talk about turning passion for social change into successful nonprofits at the University’s first TEDxSJU event. Sponsored by SJU’s Communication Studies program, it is scheduled from 4-7 p.m., and is free and open to the public.

A branch of the well-known TED Talks (Technology, Entertainment, Design) held globally and archived at www.ted.com, TEDx gives local organizations and academic institutions the opportunity to host TED-like events of their own. Committed to “Ideas Worth Spreading,” the nonprofit keeps access to all TED speaker videos permanently free and accessible on the organization’s web site. Speakers are leaders in their disciplines, innovative thinkers and active and engaged doers.

TEDxSJU’s lineup of presenters will gather in Philadelphia from across the country. Most of the speakers interacted with students who were enrolled in a fall 2010 social media class taught by Aimée Knight, Ph.D., assistant professor of English.

TEDxSJU features the following speakers:

  • Sheena Matheiken, The Uniform Project By challenging herself to wear one black dress for 365 days, Matheiken uses fashion as a catalyst for sustainability, philanthropy and social commerce.
  • Olivia Bouler, Save the Gulf An aspiring ornithologist, Olivia Bouler, 12, gave over 500 original bird-drawings to people who donated to wildlife recovery efforts. She has since been awarded several national honors and written a children’s book.
  • Chase Whiteside and Erik Stoll, New Left Media Students at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, Whiteside and Stoll cover contemporary politics through citizen journalism.
  • Rita J. King, Dancing Ink A journalist and entrepreneur, King uses the Internet and digital environments to innovate work, education, and outreach.
  • Jerry Paffendorf, Loveland Loveland sells single square inches of a land plot in Detroit to fund the development of the city and its community organizations.
  • Lynn McConville, Power Up Gambia Power Up Gambia’s mission is to bring electricity and water to healthcare facilities in the Gambia through the effective use of solar power.
  • Dan Morison, Citizen Effect Promoting civic engagement, Citizen Effect allows people to take control of their giving experience by choosing a project and communicating directly with the community they serve.
  • Tenaya Darlington, Madame Fromage An associate professor of English at SJU, when she's not teaching food writing at the University, Madame Fromage promotes artisanal cheese through online and print media.

Inspired by the enthusiasm and success of the socially engaged entrepreneurs they were profiling, Knight and her students began the year-long process of bringing them to Saint Joseph’s.

“The class looked at individual entrepreneurs as examples of how to effectively use social media in social justice and nonprofit settings, and that involved interacting with those entrepreneurs in a variety of ways, including Skype,” says Knight. “The direct interaction led the students to seriously consider the possibility of a TEDx event at SJU.”

To gauge the potential speakers’ interest, Knight wrote each of them an email detailing the idea and asking if they’d like to participate. Within 24 hours, all of them accepted the invitation.

“It was an absolute shock that they all responded so quickly,” says Knight.

Over the next year, Knight and the students worked to raise money to sponsor TEDxSJU, ultimately reaching their goal through support from the Communication Studies program, University administrators, academic departments, parents, alumni and individual members of the SJU community. TEDxSJU’s slogan “For Students, By Students,” reflects its relevance to today’s students and the involvement of the students orchestrating it. 

Featuring a web site, Facebook page, Twitter handle (@tedxsju), YouTube channel and T-shirts and promotional posters  – all designed and maintained by Knight’s student organizers – TEDxSJU has engaged the class members at each step. The set design for the event was developed through the collaborative work of a visual rhetorics class and SJU technical director Rob Carovillano.

TEDxSJU will be held in the Campus Commons on October 13, 4-7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.


Media Contact

Patricia Allen, Senior Associate Director of University Communications, 610-660-3240, patricia.allen@sju.edu

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