The theme of conference is "Beyond Z", taken from this Dr. Seuss poem:
My alphabet starts with this letter called yuzz.
It’s the letter I use to spell yuzza ma tuzz.
You’ll be sort of surprised what there is to be found
When you go beyond Z and start poking around.
So go beyond Z!
It's high time you were shown
That you really don't know
All there is to be known.
We want to explore how a lack of knowledge is a tool of discovery, and indeed, a crucial and necessary one. By acknowledging that we "really don't know all there is to be known," we hope to re-frame the idea of ‘not knowing’ not as failure or inadequacy, but as a path to exposure to new perspectives. We wish to embrace curiosity and to encourage openness to ideas that are "beyond Z," beyond our own preconceived notions of what our "alphabet" is limited to.
We wish to critically examine the dominant narratives of our society while also opening ourselves up to new perspectives and new experiences. For example, through the Core Curriculum at Columbia, we are presented with a discourse on civilization that focuses on the Western perspective. We gain important and socially relevant knowledge. However, we should also explore and immerse ourselves in narratives of other kinds; Robert Tenzin Thurman has offered to speak on his work as a Buddhist monk and offer a word view that is complementary yet separate from the Western.
By the end of the TEDx conference, we hope to have imparted a questioning spirit to our audience. We want them to critically examine the "alphabet" of the world around them and to "poke around" to find new ideas, world views, experiences, and form their own opinions about them.