TED Conversations

Bernelle Verster

Merah Mas Industrial Biotech, University of Cape Town, Centre for Bioprocess Engineering Research - CeBER


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What can you do to engage your community with complex issues in a fun way to create a series of small, positive, informed, lasting changes?

With the world's challenges becoming more complex and more interdependent, quick fixes, or straightforward solutions are just not available.

TEDTalks are these nuggets of ideas, that are packaged like a complete story. Like a collection of facts, they can be considered as isolated from each other. This is good because watching a talk makes you confident that you understand the subject matter and inspires you to do something with it, but it is also bad because it makes it feel like the talk is the complete story. If action is taken using this incomplete story, it's more likely that that project will fail because the bigger context is missing.

On the other side of the story-telling spectrum is trying to understand too much complexity and overemphasizing that everything is connected, getting lost in the detail. Then you just end up confused, and feel powerless and don't do anything.

We need to encourage engagement with complex issues and then take informed action, even if this takes a long time. The question is how. TEDTalks are good at sharing information, let's try to connect them to illustrate the complexity. And once this is done, what can we do to share this complexity with our communities to inspire small, informed changes that change the world?

We will also be exploring this in a TEDxCapeTown conversation, using carbon offsetting as example:


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