University of Winnipeg needs a little TED

Students deserve more showcases of their talent

Ayame Ulrich

With the TEDx (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference coming to Winnipeg in February, perhaps it is time that the University of Winnipeg create an event similar to TED for graduating students or recent graduates to promote their ideas about technological, design, environmental and poverty concerns.

For those who do not know what TED is, the first event took place in California 25 years ago. Each speaker is given 18 minutes to promote and discuss an idea and argue its importance towards helping the world.

To assist people who cannot go to the main TED conference in California every year, TEDx sets up conferences in various cities in order to give people, cities, communities and organizations a chance to take part in the TED experience without travelling to California.
A similar event at the University of Winnipeg would be a good thing for many reasons.

The first is it would be a place for upcoming and recent graduates of the U of W to showcase the knowledge they have gained. This would allow students to gain not only important public speaking experience in front of a larger audience, but also learn the value of making an argument in the court of public opinion.

Another reason a TED-esque event is something the U of W could really use is because there are not a lot of opportunities to promote oneself as a potential leader or global citizen in this city.

We need to do a better job of showing off the potential of many of our students.

Some post-secondary institutions do have projects or events that give graduating students an opportunity to present an idea or product.

For example, Red River College’s creative communications program has the Independent Professional Project (IPP), where each final year student has to pitch a product in order to graduate.

While a TED-type event would not have to require that a student speak at an event of this magnitude to graduate, something like this could be worth credits towards a degree.

The third and last case for a TED-esque U of W style event is the job networking and prospects that it would create for students.

Praise should be given to our various student associations, such as the economics, environmental, geography and business student associations for making those connections within their fields for potential employers.

However, given that our career centre is a bare bones operation, and the job fair every year has the same typical employers from banks, temporary agencies and government agencies, there aren’t many options to network for those who don’t want to work for a temp agency or push pencil to paper for the government.

I can attest that most students come to university to not only learn, but to improve their skills and increase their chances for a good job they can be happy with.

I didn’t come just for the sake of learning, but also to gain solid employment. By working not only with local organizations but also with some outside of the province (i.e. Pembina Institute in Alberta, Green for All in the United States), great potential exists for students to network towards a high quality career that they are passionate about.

To address those who have concerns about corporate influence upon university, sponsorship at a Ted-type of event could be limited to local businesses, or non-governmental organizations.

Students deserve a venue outside of the stale academic paper or conference realm to showcase their potential career skills. Something akin to a U of W TED event would be the venue in which to do so.

Adam Johnston is an economics and rhetoric and communications student at the University of Winnipeg who focuses on environmental, economic and technology issues at

Published in Volume 65, Number 15 of The Uniter (January 13, 2011)

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