Next UA TEDx talks will focus on 'aberrant' ideas

March 10, 2019

Agricultural Education's Matthew Mars will present at Tedx UofA

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TEDxUofA is back for its second year with talks centering around the theme of “aberration,” or ideas that diverge from the norm.

On Friday, March 15, University of Arizona faculty and students will give a series of presentations on topics ranging from marriage to Parkinson’s disease to activism advertising.

The independently organized TED event will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. in the auditorium of the Environment and Natural Resources 2 Building (ENR2), north of East Sixth Street at 1064 E. Lowell St.

The event is hosted by the university and organized by students operating under Innovate UA.

TED — which stands for the convergence of technology, entertainment and design — is a nonprofit that promotes shared ideas through short powerful talks that foster “ideas worth spreading.”

The TEDx program enables communities, organizations and individuals to produce TED-style events at the local level, under a free license from TED, according to Robert Deboucher, a UA junior and associate director of creative services for TEDxUofA.

Talks range from 15 to 18 minutes. Thirty people applied to be speakers. Seven were chosen, including five faculty members, one graduate student and one undergraduate student.

Matthew Mars, assistant professor in agricultural leadership and innovation, will present a talk called “Innovation ... Overrated” where he will argue the way the world thinks about innovation may actually be hindering it.

“Many believe that in order to be leaders of change, we must emulate the larger-than-life folks that have done some remarkable things,” he said. “But often what makes them unique is the resources they have access to.

“It’s pretty quickly that we come to a conclusion that they’re different from us, so we can admire them but we can’t match their impact,” he said. He wants to change that way of thinking.


His talk grew out of his normal research, he said.

Mars studies local food systems and the localization of economies.

Small-business owners have to be innovative all the time, he argues, but we don’t think of it that way.

“I’ve struggled to understand why we don’t celebrate that more.”

Mars said he’s wanted to get his message out for a long time but hadn’t found the right venue.

“TEDxUofA seemed to have the freedom and spirit to allow me to do that,” he said.

Jeremiah Pate, a UA sophomore who owns his own satellite company called LunaSonde LLC, will also be speaking about his work to create a cure for Parkinson’s disease.

Other speakers include associate law professor Albertina Antognini, higher education doctoral student Bryant Valencia, plant sciences professor David Galbraith, marketing assistant professor Nooshin Warren and German studies professor Albrecht Classen.

There will also be food available at intermission and tents from various UA clubs in the ENR2 courtyard including the calligraphy and underwater robotics clubs.

The presentations will be recorded and posted on the TEDTalks website. Last year’s TEDxUofA talks are already posted online.