Faculty, students, and alumni came together to share their ideas at the first TEDxVirginiaTech event in November, featuring 21 speakers who shared ideas, insights, and inspiration centered around the theme “knowing.” Of the 200 nominated speakers, all three from the college were selected to present: Associate Professor of Wildlife Kathleen Alexander, geography instructor John Boyer, and Dan Goff, a senior majoring in geography and meteorology.


For over 25 years, the nonprofit organization TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) has sought to inspire individuals to act by spreading ideas with the potential to change attitudes, lives, and even the world. At TED’s two annual conferences, professionals from all over the world are invited to give the talk of their lives. The short speaking times — a maximum of 18 minutes — are intended to generate clearly defined messages and capture the audience’s attention.

On the local level, individuals or groups can host self-organized events where live and video-streamed speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group setting. These events are branded TEDx, with “x” representing the organization or place hosting the talks.

The audience at the TEDxVirginiaTech event was limited to only 135 attendees to promote a more intimate setting with the speakers. Those unable to get the highly sought-after tickets could attend live streaming events on campus, in the local community, and with alumni chapters around the country.

“It was such a privilege to participate in this event and share my experiences in Africa about ‘knowing and knowledge,’” said Alexander. “Working across the continent over the last 20 years, I have come to understand that we must be available to learn from those who know. It has transformed my research and has secured the impact and value of my work.”

“I was grateful and excited to first be nominated, then selected, to be a speaker at the inaugural TEDxVirginiaTech event,” said Boyer, whose talk “More Passion, Less Pedagogy” was aimed at reinventing the American education system. “I have been a fan of TED talks for years now, and it certainly was a challenge to live up to their high standards and even higher expectations.”

“Speaking at TEDx has easily been one of the top five experiences of my time at Virginia Tech,” stated Goff. “The process of taking an idea and turning it into a compelling, entertaining talk and giving it the ‘TED look’ was challenging. I’m proud to be one of the college’s representatives and to share the stage with so many great speakers and fantastic ideas.”

For more information and to watch videos of the presentations, visit tedxvirginiatech.com.