Nearly two dozen speakers were challenged to give the “talk of their life” in 18 minutes at TEDxLSU in early March. The presenters are innovative thinkers from the university and greater community who discussed their approaches to some of humanity’s fundamental concerns.

The inaugural TEDxLSU event was independently organized and based on the theme of evolution, specifically, generating new thought by connecting existing resources.

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading.” TED Talks began in California 25 years ago and are now widely held throughout the country. The “x” in TEDx denotes an independently organized TED event.

TEDx came to LSU through the Janice H. Pellar Creative Arts Entrepreneurship Project at the College of Music & Dramatic Arts. “Seeing people network, discuss inspirational ideas and acknowledge our common problems was inspirational,” said Joey Watson, TEDxLSU event organizer, who wrote his dissertation on the popular lecture series. “I knew we needed this in Baton Rouge, and LSU was the natural vessel in which to execute such an experiential event.”

Watson said the college chose 12 students to be Pellar Creative Arts Fellows—students who excel academically and creatively and, as fellows, explore ways to hone their arts skills through both social and commercial entrepreneurial activities. He explained, “These students are the leaders of our Pellar projects. Under supervision, they introduce project ideas, perform community outreach, recruit other students to get involved and more. TEDxLSU became one of their annual endeavors, as everyone understood it was something special.”

Watson said the college saw the event as an opportunity to plant a creative seed within Baton Rouge and LSU.

The Pellar fellows attended TEDxBroadway in New York, giving them the opportunity to attend a large TEDx event generated from a strong arts community—an ideal way to prepare for the event they were to host.

The fellows were instrumental in the Baton Rouge event’s production through marketing, speaker relations, volunteer recruitment and set design and lighting. Watson said there was “a tremendous amount of involvement for our students in terms of their own participation and ideas, as well as it being an experiential learning activity.”

The Janice H. Pellar Creative Arts Entrepreneurship Project was instituted to promote careers in digital media, arts administration and Internet-based business.

Published in Cornerstone Summer and Fall 2013.

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