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Through Talks, TEDxSJFC “Reveals the Invisible”

October 26, 2017

Next month, members of the St. John Fisher College and Rochester communities will share “ideas worth spreading” during a TEDx event organized by the College’s Honors Program.

TEDxSJFC - an independently organized TED event

An independently organized event, licensed by TED, TEDxSJFC will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 4, in Basil 135.

The idea for TEDxSJFC arose during the fall 2016 semester, when students in Dr. Melissa Bissonette’s Honors course, The Public Intellectual, were challenged with creating an academic event that would attract a student audience.

After weeks of brainstorming and preparing presentations in small groups, the students presented their ideas to their peers, who selected the TEDx idea as the most exciting. Amanda Wells ’19, president of the Honors Student Association who served as a teaching assistant for the course, was tasked with moving the event forward.

Wells, along with a team of 10 other students, spent the summer and fall semester working with Bissonette on securing a license to host the talk under the TEDx name, issuing a call for presenters, and organizing logistics for the day.

The students also developed the theme for the event, “Reveal the Invisible.” 

“We want attendees to walk away having learned something new, asking questions about something they saw or felt,” Wells said. “I want them to be perplexed by what the presenters said.”

Julia Detmer ’20, an Honors student who has also been instrumental in planning the event, agreed.

“In so many ways we are blind to movements, people, and particular kinds of knowledge that matter enormously to our world, but which don't seem to be there until someone points them out,” she explained. “Similarly, what we think we see is not always there. But once the invisible is made visible, it changes the way we move through our world.” 

Among those delivering talks during the event are Dr. Kathleen Donovan, assistant professor of political science; Daniel Ammon, an English major and sophomore at Fisher; and Penny Sterling, a local performer. Topics include the combination of music and science; how video games can be used to enhance communication; and the experience of a black man living in an inner city; and more.

A limited number of seats are available; complete the TEDxSJFC online application to apply to attend.

The planning committee includes Amanda Wells, Julia Detmer, Joe Gala, Nicole Nista, Anna Hand, Lily Nguyen, Stephanie Kristof, and James Bailey.

For more information about the TEDxSJFC event or the Honors Program, visit or email

About TEDx, x = independently organized event

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TED Talks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)

About TED

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California 30 years ago, TED has grown to support its mission with multiple initiatives. The two annual TED Conferences invite the world's leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes or less. Many of these talks are then made available, free, at TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Sal Khan and Daniel Kahneman.

The annual TED Conference takes place each spring in Vancouver, British Columbia. TED's media initiatives include, where new TED Talks are posted daily; the Open Translation Project, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as translations from volunteers worldwide; the educational initiative TED-Ed. TED has established the annual TED Prize, where exceptional individuals with a wish to change the world get help translating their wishes into action; TEDx, which supports individuals or groups in hosting local, self- organized TED-style events around the world, and the TED Fellows program, helping world-changing innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.