Student-Organized TEDx Event Invites Audiences to “Rethink”

Trinity’s First Series of TEDx Talks Informs and Entertains Students at Vernon Social

Hartford, CT, May 1, 2015 – During their months of planning Trinity’s first TEDx event, one thing student organizers couldn’t have controlled for was the year’s first day of temperatures approaching 80 degrees. Thanks to their hard work, however, TEDx TrinColl drew scores of students into Vernon Social on a beautiful afternoon for the first of what organizers hope will become an annual series of riveting talks on a variety of topics.

Among the speakers were a Trinity alumna and professor, a Hartford lawyer, a Harvard professor, and a doctor and a historian with innovative takes on health. The event was organized by a team of students led by Bhumika Choudhary ’18 along with Taylor Ogan ’18, Eleanor Clerc ’17, Dayana Aleksandrova ’15, Carolyn Kimmick ’15, Sherisa Abbaspour ’18, Gio Quattrochi ’16, Ursula Granirer ’17, and Lorenzo Puopolo ’18.

Dan Román, assistant professor of music,
at TEDx TrinColl
 Nell Kathleen Gibbon ’98 kicked off the series with her talk, “Rethink the Power of Intimacy.” In it, she discussed her work helping patients relieve the symptoms of depression and anxiety and how those who became intimate with their own minds and comfortable with the “uncomfortableness” of life were the happiest. She found that developing close relationships with her patients helped them open up to her and work successfully toward their own happiness.

Gibbon was followed by Joshua Michtom, a Hartford lawyer whose work as a public defender led him to take an interest in child protection, juvenile delinquency, and criminal defense. In his talk, “Rethink Neighborhoods,” Michtom encouraged audiences to think about how race and class effect people’s decisions as well as the law, and how people can challenge their own assumptions and reflect on the ideas about right and wrong.

The first half of the program closed with Dan Román, assistant professor of music, and his talk, “Rethink the Abyss.” He said that 20th century music separated composers from their audiences, a trend that continued up to the present. Music now has the ability to bring composers and their audiences together, a change in dynamic that few are aware of.

Historian Aaron Pascal Mauck began the second half of the program with his talk, “Rethink Therapeutics.” He started by clarifying his title, saying that what is really necessary is to rethink the rethink of therapeutics. As a historian of science, Mauck identified the ideas about disease and treatment that, once commonplace, have come to be ignored. One that he emphasized as having particular relevance today is the link between diabetes and tuberculosis, a relationship that disappeared from much clinical literature with the fade of tuberculosis. With the increase in tuberculosis in some parts of the world in the 1990s, this long-identified relationship deserves new attention.

The students behind TEDx TrinColl.
 Dr. Sandra Lopez Leon continued the series with “Rethink An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away.” Instead of any one dedicated approach (eating an apple every day), Leon called for varying the foods and products we use. She focused on the problem of excess in the aggregate, suggesting that varied sources would limit the potential for health hazards. Leon suggested changing brands and sources of bottled water, eating a variety of grains and fruits, and even varying household products like creams, deodorants, and cleaning supplies.

The final speaker of the event, Timothy Patrick McCarthy, asked the audience to “Rethink Progress.” The program director at Harvard’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy began with a reflection on the seemingly self-evident progress made by African Americans: the election of Barack Obama as president, the recent recognition 150 years since the Civil War, and 50 years since the Selma to Montgomery Marches. McCarthy contrasted that with his trips to Alabama, helping to rebuild black churches that had been burned down – not during Reconstruction or Jim Crow, but in the 1990s. Similarly, he discussed America’s rapid steps toward the legal recognition of same-sex marriage across the country and how it masks a lack of progress in other areas affecting the LGBT community: healthcare, violence, addiction, and more. He called on the audience to recognize and confront these paradoxes of progress.

TEDxTrinColl started when first-year student Bhumika Choudhary had the idea to bring the speaker series to Trintiy. She took the initiative to apply for a license, which TEDx granted. Choudhary organized a team of students who planned the event, identified and invited speakers, managed the budget, and promoted the event online and on campus. She said she hopes to turn TEDxTrinColl into an annual event and has already begun thinking about next year’s program. Videos of the talks are now available online.