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TEDx sweeps into Andover

TEDx Phillips Academy organizer MJ Engel '13

Senior organizes campus participation in an educational, cultural phenomenon

October 25, 2012 --M.J. Engel ‘13, a self-proclaimed lover of ideas, recently put one of her own into action, by organizing Andover’s first TED talk series, TEDx PhillipsAcademy. The weeklong series, a complement to PA’s sixth annual “Wellness Week,” features four presentations by members of the PA community on topics related to health and wellness.

The four speakers are Skanda Koppula ’14, Justine Wang ’15, Director of Spiritual and Religious Life Anne Gardner, and Head of School John Palfrey. Stay tuned to “News from Andover,” which will feature links to videos of their presentations in future editions.

TED, an acronym for Technology, Entertainment and Design, is a nonprofit organization that hosts conferences featuring 10 to 15-minute talks by experts, gurus and laymen on a seemingly infinite number of topics. Like all TED talks, the four Andover talks will be posted on TED.com, where, currently, more than 1300 talks can be viewed.

Engel, who, like most people, discovered TED.com by word of mouth, decided to bring the series to campus to burst the “Andover bubble.” “We don’t have enough time to appreciate experiences that other people ... have had outside the Andover bubble,” said Engel, who selected the two students and two faculty member who are presenting talks. “I hope that this event will be a platform where you can hear from faculty and students about things that they’ve done outside of Andover.”

Although this is the first time PA has organized a TED event, TED has featured talks in the past by Andover alums, including cognitive scientist Marvin Minsky ’45 on health and the human mind and chemist George Whitesides ’57 on moving toward a science of simplicity.

Alas, Engel, the idea lover, will for now give the TED stage to others, as she dreams of one day presenting her own big idea:

“I’d speak about the importance of student activism. My most empowering experiences in high school have been times when I pushed myself way out of my comfort zone and fought for issues that matter deeply to me, including mass atrocity prevention and gender inequality.”

Fittingly, Engel’s favorite TED talk is titled "Danger of a Single Story" given by speaker Chimamanda Adichie. The talk already has been viewed by 3.4 million people.

Watch the talks




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  • Amy Morris, Public Information Specialist
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