It is fair to say that St Andrews offers its fair share of events; from fashion shows to wine fairs there’s a host of options for anyone looking to get merry with a touch of something different. However, when looking for true variety it is often the case that we are left unsatisfied: the moment when something unique is epitomised by a Pablo-only bar is the moment that we start to wonder if we are scraping the bottom of the proverbial hunter boot. Yet, just as things seem to be getting a tad boring in the bubble, we have the arrival of the St Andrews University TEDx talks on Sunday 22 April. TEDx is an idea enshrined in the spread of knowledge that might easily not find its way beyond a limited audience, from the Anthropocene to anatomy to autonomy the system of lectures quickly attained world renown with its wide selection of talks.
At the first St Andrews University TEDx talks of the year last semester, students were given a snippet of what lay in store with a series of five minute talks given by potential students. These talks, despite all being based on the theme of “New Beginnings,” drew on examples as far flung as The New Silk Road and Mental Health. Having narrowed down the potential talks students are now prepared for the main event, which will have two student speakers along with a plethora of lectures sourced from outside the university. We have:
1. Conference Host Annie Othen, a national radio broadcaster and journalist who has interviewed the likes of Jack Straw and David Cameron. She continues to work freelance and gives masterclasses on journalism.
2. Olivia Wollenberg: founder of Livia’s Kitchen. Having left behind a career in Neuroscience Olivia Wollenberg began her company after being diagnosed with multiple food disorders. Her talk is entitled “From Student to Boss,” a topical theme for the student who wonders if there’s more to life than a law conversion.
3. Mads Fibiger: Co-Founder and CEO of “Organic Basics.” Another young entrepreneur Mads Fibiger’s “Organic Basics” experienced 500% growth in 2016 after being the most crowdfunded Scandinavian fashion campaign in history. His go-to basics relinquish the costs of branding, offering a high-value alternative to the high street.
4. James Hilton: CCO, Native and Founder of “Death Machines of London.” Having co-founded the highly successful agency AKQA when he was only 21 and creatively lead the company for over 20 years until leaving in 2015, by which time AKQA employed over 1500 people in 14 offices around the world. Later he founded the custom motorcycle company Death Machines of London, a brand that has been covered by British GQ and Esquire.
5. James Golding: Managing Director “One Step at a Time.” On 26th February 2009, just before midnight as he was rushed into emergency surgery, doctors told James Golding’ family he probably wouldn’t make it through the night. Eight years later James has an impressive accolade of events and challenges next to his name and yet continues to strive for more. He has completed the challenging Haute Route 8 times, and raised over 3 million pounds for UK cancer charities. He works as an independent motivational speaker and is working towards new challenges in the coming years.
6. Siana Bangura: Writer, Blogger and Freelance Journalist. Siana Bangura is a writer, blogger, poet and performer hailing from South East London. She is the editor of Black British Intersectional Feminist platform, No Fly on the WALL, and the founder of independent publishing house, Haus of Liberated Reading. Siana is the author of “Elephant,” a bold debut collection of poetry exploring themes of Black British womanhood, racism, sexism, gentrification and more; and is also the producer of “1500 and Counting,” a documentary investigating deaths in custody and police brutality in the UK. She has written for, and featured in, a number of publications including VICE, The Fader, Media Diversified, Black Ballad, GalDem, Consented, The Times, Huffington Post, The Guardian, and has spoken and performed in venues and to audiences across the UK and Europe.
7. Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow: Founder and CEO, Mary’s Meals. Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow is the founder and chief executive of Mary’s Meals, a global charity that provides a daily meal in a place of education to more than one million of the world’s poorest children. The meal attracts children to the classroom, where they gain a basic education that can provide an escape route from poverty.
8. Resh Sidhu: Virtual Reality Creative Director, Framestore. Resh Sidhu is one of the most well-regarded names in Virtual Reality and one of a handful of women driving the medium forward with her fearless creativity and innovative approach. Resh’s role extends well beyond the scope of creative leadership, she lectures and talks extensively all over the world on designing compelling human experiences in VR.
9. Talah Anderson: Aspiring Assyriologist and Trans Activist. Talah Anderson is a joint Biblical Studies and Medieaval History student with a strong passion for trans rights. She’s been heavily involved with Saints LGBT+, acting as Gender and Sexualities Officer, which included organising the University’s first Transgender Awareness Week festival. Talah also extended her work spotlighting issues relevant to trans and gender non-conforming people to the arts in St Andrews, directing both the performance piece “The Joan of Arc Experience” and “Salome” by Oscar Wilde, addressing various (trans)gender issues within.
Our two St Andrews Students will be Lisa Marie Husby, who will be doing a talk entitled “Life is Just a Set of New Beginnings,” and a talk by Natasha Waddell she calls “That’s My Personal Square.”
With such a wide range of speakers ready to offer their delectable range of subjects this year’s St Andrews TEDx is prepped to do justice to the name it carries, delivering an experience that replaces the haze of the hangover with the smile of enlightenment.