Megan Thobe, Staff Writer

TEDxMiamiUniversity brought a group of early childhood education professionals and financial experts together to encourage collaboration and to spread ideas and research.

TED is a nonprofit organization that aims to bring together experts in a variety of fields in order to encourage the sharing of ideas and spread global inspiration. The TEDx portion of the organization was created to allow others to put together events in the TED format and to encourage a wide spread of ideas.

The TEDxMiamiUniversity event, held Friday, chose to focus on the importance of collaboration between the early education and financial world.

The event was a joint project between the Farmer School of Business; the School of Education, Health and Society; the Department of Economics and the Department of Educational Psychology.

According to the main organizer of the event and former economics professor, Dennis Sullivan, the TEDx event was chosen to present these ideas because of the TED organization’s ability to spread ideas.

“The scholars are not getting the word out,” Sullivan said. “Answers that are pretty well understood are not making it out into the citizen and political conversation.”

After some conversations with others interested in the field of finance as it relates to early education, event organizers decided TED would provide the best platform to spread their message.

The speakers of the event were chosen by Sullivan and the event’s co-organizer, Doris Bergen.

Speakers Doug Almond, Debora Wisenski and Doris Pronin Fromberg represented the field of early education while speakers Larry Schiwienheart, Tim Bartik and Rucker Johnson represented the world of finance.

According to Sullivan, TED has a handful of rules for TEDx events that make it difficult to have a large audience.

TEDx rules state that the audience can be no bigger than 100 attendees. However, Sullivan said he was happy with the audience turnout.

“We had anticipated that we might have to beat the bushes a little bit to achieve our target audience of about 70 to 75, and in fact we had about 80 without needing to beat the bushes at all,” Sullivan said. “They’re actually a remarkably diverse collection of people.”

The audience was made up of mostly representatives from educational institutions and graduate students from across the country. Also attending the event were two students from Xavier University: Nicholas Turon and Michael Farwell. Turon and Farwell helped put together the TEDxXavier event in April of last year and are passionate about the TED message.

“The TEDx spirit is about collaboration, working together and drawing from all different sorts of backgrounds and just experiences,” Turon said.

Turon and Farwell said the online TED community greatly helped them plan and execute their event and the community aspect of TED ignited the most passion in them.

“The mutual learning to promote ideas worth spreading which is the theme of TED,” Farwell said. “It’s a very community oriented organization so you can reach out to someone you’ve never met before and have a conversation with them at a TEDx event or online.”

According to Turon, the goal is to make every subsequent event better than the last one.

“I want this one to be better than our event and I want our event to be better than this event, and then compounding to be the best event possible,” Turon said.

Both Turon and Farwell agreed the audience was the most important aspect of a TED event.

“The biggest role of a TEDx event is not what the speakers are saying, it’s how the audience reacts and what they go from it,” Farwell said.

According to audience member Rose Marie Ward, an associate professor in kinesiology and health, the TEDxMiamiUniversity event conveyed the importance of collaboration.

“It’s not just that I can come up with a solution to a problem but I can hear your view and your perspective and your side of things and it’s great to combine everyone’s ideas to make the next step,” Ward said.

Debora Wisneski, a speaker from the University of Nebraska Omaha, said the TEDx event provided a unique experience.

“I came with a general idea that we needed more interdisciplinary collaboration across all fields to work for children,” Wisneski said. “But now I actually had the opportunity to listen and speak with a variety of people who I never would have gotten introduced to. Our conferences would have never crossed our research would be absolutely separated.”

The future of TEDx on Miami’s campus is uncertain. Sullivan said this event was a sort of experiment for those involved.

“I think it is unlikely that Miami University would do its next TEDx in this format,” Sullivan said. “The experiment ought to be an experiment in a different format. My prediction is that the next TEDx event will be very different from this one.”

The license granted by TED is for a onetime event so prospective TEDx planners would essentially be starting from scratch.

TED requires that a TEDx event planner has a license to use the TED brand.