Danbury's WestConn To Host TEDx Event Focused On Creativity, Compassion

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TEDxWCSU, a group of panel discussions about creativity and compassion, will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16, in Room 125 of the Science Building on the university’s Midtown campus of Western Connecticut State University in Danbury. Photo Credit: File

DANBURY, Conn. — The Western Connecticut State University Honors Program will host “TEDxWCSU,” a group of panel discussions about creativity and compassion set up in the TED forum's tradition of "Ideas Worth Spreading."

The event will be at 2 p.m., Saturday, in Room 125 of the Science Building on the university’s Midtown campus, 181 White St., Danbury. The event will be free and the public is invited.

A group of panelists will lead discussions about creativity and compassion with related topics of technology, the arts, education and youth activism in the format of TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design.

Two musical compositions also will be featured: An original piece, “Around a Flame,” composed and performed by WCSU music and audio production major Dale Osterman and a second piece performed by the WCSU jazz group. 

Panelists will include the following:

  • Matthew Badger, who founded LilySarahGraceFund.org to empower teachers in under-funded public elementary schools to infuse the arts into curricula. The fund is in memory of the three daughters he lost in a Christmas morning house fire in 2011 in Stamford. Badger is a commercial director and works with the production company Epoch Films.
  • Daniel Martin, an associate professor of management at California State University, East Bay, and a visiting associate professor at the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University. Martin has worked with private, public and nonprofit organizations on pre-employment selection, training and organizational assessment. 
  • Hasib Muhammad, a junior at North Gwinnett High School in Suwanee, Ga., is program director of Greening Forward, the fastest-growing and largest youth-staffed environmental nonprofit organization in the world. He also serves on the Jane Goodall Institute’s Roots & Shoots National Youth Leadership Council and the national Youth Advisory Council for Keep America Beautiful, the largest community improvement organization of the United States.
  • Michael French is a senior political philosophy major at WestConn who plans to pursue a doctorate in philosophy to teach at the university level and become an author.
  • Matthew Dicks is an elementary school teacher, minister and published author. He has written the novels “Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend,” “Something Missing” and “Unexpectedly, Milo” and the rock opera “The Clowns.” He is also a former West Hartford Teacher of the Year.

“I hope through this event to spark discussion, challenge beliefs and encourage the community at WCSU,” said TEDxWCSU co-organizer Kristina Otfinoski, a WestConn sophomore from North Branford who is pursuing a bachelor of music in classical performance. “I hope those in attendance are able to look outside the proverbial box of structured society and strive for a deeper connection to and empathy for our peers, friends, family and community as a whole.”

According to the organization’s website, TED is “a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with two annual conferences -- the TED Conference and TEDGlobal -- TED includes the award-winning TED Talks video site, the Open Translation Project and TED Conversations, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize.”

Tickets can be reserved online. For more information, visit the TEDxWCSU Facebook page or call the Office of University Relations at 203-837-8486.

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