“TED talks: Ideas worth spreading,” are a popular topic of conversation among Colorado College students and professors. The 18-minute or less presentations bring together ideas from technology, entertainment, and design, giving them the acronym TED. They vary from Al Gore discussing the climate crisis to Sheryl Sandberg examining why there are fewer women leaders.

On Nov. 16, CC’s own Kathy Giuffre will be speaking at TEDxMileHigh: Women.  The independently organized conference will feature solely women speakers and focus on women within the context of the year’s theme: values and instincts.

Giuffre will have ten minutes to talk about her research in the South Pacific looking at social structures that enhance creative and innovative thinking. She found that there is group of mostly women fueling creativity out of a traditional Polynesian value for generosity, which hits on the key themes of TEDxMileHigh: Women.T9A1WlSFmPhTEocRd5orikCVY4mwO3Ko9DjYBp4sKMs

While each individual talk is not lengthy, Giuffre views this as one of the event’s strengths. “What the time limit forced me to do was get to the heart of the matter,” she said. “I think it’s nice when you can have people really getting to the point quickly, so that you have enough people and a variety of perspectives.”

The conference, held in DU’s Newman Center for the Performing Arts, will feature other Colorado women who express powerful ideas in shaping the Colorado community. One speaker, a Colorado Springs native, is a freshman undergraduate at MIT who works to develop more efficient methods to produce algae biofuels using artificial selection.

The variety of speakers, from a slam poet to the CEO of a health insurance co-op, work to bring a wide range of ideas to the events attendees, something people often don’t get outside of an educational environment. “It’s a little bit like one tiny day of college, an afternoon’s worth of a liberal education,” said Giuffre.

Eli Michaels, 2013 CC graduate and current sociology paraprofessional, loves to watch TED talks online and echoed this sentiment. “I’m always eager to have opportunities to learn, especially as a graduate,” she said. Michaels was also excited about supporting her boss’s work.

The CC connection with TEDxMileHigh extends even further, as 2013 CC alumni Sam Faktorow is a fellow with the organization. Faktorow is in charge of the social media accounts, such as Facebook and Twitter, for TEDxMileHigh and mediates their content. For this event specifically, Faktorow has also been working with a more traditional email marketing campaign.

“[The TEDxMileHigh conference] seeks to inspire and engage people around Colorado and help them realize the ability they have as citizens of Colorado to create social change across various communities throughout the state,” he said.

Faktorow anticipates an audience of around 800, but there are still tickets up for sale.  Students can purchase discounted tickets online for $39.50.

Michaels will be taking advantage of the discounted tickets and going to the conference with three current CC students.

While this is the first time a CC professor has spoken at TEDxMileHigh, both Faktorow and Giuffre hope that the relationship between Colorado College and TEDxMileHigh will grow stronger. “I hope more Colorado College professors and maybe students too start getting involved in this,” said Giuffre.

Faktorow was not directly involved with bringing Giuffre to the conference, but a different CC graduate nominated her; the nomination was followed by a selective process to determine conference speakers.

TEDx is independently organized, while falling under the parent organization TED, and came under fire for “suspect talks” that were appearing at TEDx conferences.  Lara Stein, TEDx director, released a public letter in December 2012 addressing the issue and emphasizing the importance of vetting speakers.

Giuffre had several conversations with the organizers, discussing her ideas and how to best present her research. “They did research on me to see that I know what I am talking about,” she said.

Shealagh Coughlin, Staff Writer

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