TEDx Conference Promotes Building of ‘Living Bridges’

The event, part of the 250th celebration, invites creative ideas about social change.

As part of Dartmouth’s 250th anniversary celebration, a dozen faculty, alumni, students, and guests will gather on Saturday, April 13, to talk about how to build “Living Bridges.”

That’s the theme of this year’s TEDx Dartmouth conference, which, as explained on the website, is inspired by the natural world. “A living bridge is formed by communities guiding the pliable roots of a tree across a river or stream and allowing them to strengthen and grow over time until they can support the weight of a human being.”

“In line with Dartmouth’s 250th anniversary, as we honor our past and inspire our future, this TEDx theme allows us to highlight the bridges we have built and the bridges we have yet to build together in the years to come as our community grows stronger,” says Arvind Suresh ’19, who is organizing the conference with Alice Hsu ’19. “Building on 250 years of ideas worth spreading from the Dartmouth community, we want to stress how collaboration at Dartmouth makes it an institution that puts forth innovative ideas and showcases creative ways on how to best challenge ourselves and better our communities.”

Marcelo Gleiser, the Appleton Professor of Natural Philosophy and a professor of physics and astronomy, will be master of ceremonies and a speaker for the daylong series of short talks. Gleiser recently won the $1.4 million Templeton Prize for his work in cosmology and physics. In his book The Island of Knowledge: The Limits of Science and the Search for Meaning, the physicist has written, “Awe is the bridge between our past and present, taking us forward into the future as we keep searching.”  

This year’s TEDx speakers represent diverse disciplines and pursuits. For example, as a visually impaired member of the U.S. Paralympics alpine ski team, Staci Manella ’19 has proven that disability need not stand in the way of athletic success. Tyné Freeman ’17 has criss-crossed the globe to perform with musicians from different cultures who might otherwise never have met. Terren Klein ’17 is the CEO and founder of College Pulse, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to conducting public-opinion research.    

The roster includes stellar faculty, as well. Ivy Schweitzer and Pati Hernandez help students empower incarcerated women to tell their own stories, and have made a documentary about their process.  Lisa Adams, MED ’90, the associate dean for global health and an associate professor of medicine at the Geisel School of Medicine, develops health programs for underserved populations at high risk for disease. 

Photographer and filmmaker Pete McBride ’93 will return to campus for the conference and also for the screening of his new film, Into the Grand Canyon, at the Hopkins Center for the Arts. To make a documentary about the significance of conservation efforts in the face of increasing development pressures, McBride hiked the entire length of the national park.

Six other featured guests will speak about the most pressing challenges of our time, including environmental degradation and worldwide economic inequities.

TEDxDartmouth is a spinoff from the popular TED series. This year’s program will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 13, in Spaulding Auditorium at the Hopkins Center. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is advised.