Disclaimer: Mitch Navetta is a current social media editor and former executive social media editor at the Daily. Navetta was not involved in the writing or editing of this article.
TEDxTufts hosted Mosaic in Motion on Sunday in Cohen Auditorium, a day-long event featuring talks from guest speakers, TEDx videos, refreshments and interactive art exhibits, with the goal of unifying a diverse range of voices and stories, according to Head of Marketing and Publicity Sarah Minster.
TEDxTufts sold out the event, which marked its fifth year as a licensed TEDx group. Over 500 students and Tufts community members attended for the event, according to Mitch Navetta, a junior who is a member of the marketing and publicity team.
TEDxTufts kicked off Mosaic in Motion at 12 p.m. with presentations from the first four speakers until 1:30 p.m., followed by an hour-long break for lunch from local vendors including Yoshi’s, the Oat Shop and J.P. Licks, Executive Organizer Akshat Rajan, a senior, told the Daily in an email. A second session of talks from the remaining four speakers followed, concluding at 4 p.m.
During the break, Tufts groups sQ! and BEATs performed for attendees. Interspersed among the presentations were short videos curated by the TEDxTufts team and opportunities to interact with a pop-up art exhibit, according to Navetta, a junior.
Rajan said that the event was the culmination of a year’s worth of work.
“The TEDxTufts team spends all year on this one day, we really try to make sure every minute of the day is filled with authentic experiences and we want our attendees to leave Aidekman arts center having felt a whole prism of emotions,” Rajan, a senior, said in an email to the Daily. “We want people to feel like they are part of a global conversation about our shared future.”
The eight speakers included students, alumni, faculty and lecturers carefully selected from over 500 nominations and 100 applications, according to Rajan. The search for speakers began in September with an application and interview process, according to Minster, a sophomore.
“From these interviews … we met as a whole group and decided on the eight speakers who were uniquely passionate about their ideas,” Minster said. “We were drawn to … ideas that were timely, but also ones that had potent calls-to-action and larger messages about enacting change.”
Selected speakers underwent several months of coaching to prepare for the event, according to Rajan.
Topics ranged from “The Spirit of Dance,” presented by dance lecturer Taylor Lomba, to “Agricultural Apocalypse” by Tufts senior Annie Bricker. All of the topics and speakers influenced the selection of this year’s theme, according to Navetta.
“We choose our theme based on our speakers and not the other way around,” Navetta said. “After stepping back and looking at our selected speakers, we sought out what they all have in common and what listeners can take away from their ideas.”
He said that the theme “Mosaic in Motion” arose from this discussion.
“We wanted to emphasize that these potentially disparate topics all relate back to the human experience, forming a living, breathing, moving mosaic of what it means to our speakers to be human,” Navetta said.
Minster echoed this sentiment, saying that the speakers covered several distinct topics.
“Our event challenges the notion of distinct singularity and disconnectedness of ideas,” she said. “When the talks are understood altogether, they create a larger, all-encompassing network of thought.”
In celebration of their fifth anniversary, TEDxTufts integrated more interactive and performative experiences with the talks from speakers, according to Rajan.
“One of my visions for TEDxTufts ever since I got here was to expand this event in terms of its marketing and partnerships,” Rajan said. “We’re excited for all the collaborations and want TEDxTufts to continue to be a day filled with curated experiences, not just curated talks.”
Between presentations, attendees were encouraged to engage with interactive art exhibits on display throughout the auditorium, according to Navetta. Navetta said exhibits included comedy videos inspired by senior Matthew Stewart’s talk “Political Comedy” and a mosaic made from the colored pieces of paper students jotted their thoughts onto during a TEDxTufts tabling event in the Campus Center.
“We asked Tufts community members three questions, ‘What moves you?’ ‘What is the shape of your life?’ and ‘How have you changed?’ and people responded in phrases, paragraphs, doodles or even song lyrics,” Minster said. “We then assembled these answers into a beautiful mosaic art project.”
TEDxTufts also partnered with a company that helped attendees make their own robots inspired by Vasanth Sarathy’s talk “Creative Robots and AI,” according to Minster.
“These experiential art exhibits, as well as others, ask people to engage with others, talk about ideas and truly connect with the TEDxTufts event,” Minster said.
Rajan told the Daily that the top three talks of TEDxTufts have been from undergraduate students Jordin Metz, Mary Travers and Justin Robbins. TEDxTufts has reached out to past team members and speakers to compile a video in celebration of the group’s success over the years, according to Rajan.
“The total views on TEDxTufts talks come up to about 180,000,” Rajan said. “This means people have spent 39,000 hours or 1,625 days watching TEDxTufts.”
Rajan said the TEDxTufts team hopes to inspire action within the Tufts community.
“I feel like we have really established our organization as an idea-sharing platform,” Rajan said. “But in the next five years, we hope this platform grows and that people are able to realize that this can also be a platform to turn these ideas into action.”