TED Conversations

Stephen Stokols

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TED should select "normal people" to attend its primary annual event, i.e. people selected on merit.

TED is very exclusive and that's part of the lure perhaps. Participants generally represent the top .01% as measured by personal wealth. "Normal people" who may be as bright, impassioned and insightful can never have a chance to attend TED, not even a hope if they have chosen to pursue a vocation like academia or social work.

As we do in other parts of democratic merit based societies, there should be a "TED scholarship" set up for people who have no hope to ever be invited based on wealth and achievement.

This scholarship should be merit based in the same way an academic fellowship is. Applicants would be measured based on achievement and a personal essay. I'd suggest 10 scholarships awarded each year, the winners representing different walks of "normal life."

Topics: Scholorship TED
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    Apr 11 2011: Not just merit, because that still has a tendency to favour those with privilege in various ways. But I totally agree with you that TED right now privileges those with wealth, and in a way creates an echo chamber. How are you going to change the world if it's just the same old people over and over?
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      Apr 13 2011: Tiara, I highly recommend taking a closer look at what TED already does and what it has already achieved.

      As someone who has attended three TED-associated gatherings (TED2009, TEDMED, TEDxCLE) on a student's budget, I am not sure I relate to your feelings. Can you please elaborate how there should be scholarships based on "not just merit." How would that work? The OP suggested 10 scholarships - TED gives more than triple that to each conference.
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        Apr 16 2011: When organisations and groups talk about judging people based on merit, they're usually scanning for achievements like participation in major groups or having starting so-and-so project or whatever. However, what if you're just struggling to get by? What if you don't have the money to be able to afford whizzing off to universities or conferences everywhere to "make a difference"? What if you're in a minority that makes it hard to be taken seriously?

        It's worth looking at the idea of privilege - start with Unpacking the White Knapsack and go from there.

        I used to be quite the conference junkie, but I noticed that there was often a lot of talk and fervour - but not a lot of action. There were grand ideas and projects occasionally, but how has it effected change a year on? Or two?

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