Students host TEDxPenn forum on campus

Inspired by the innovative knowledge seminars known as TED that originated in California, students at Penn have started their own TEDxPenn event, scheduled to take place from noon until 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 1, at the Bruce Montgomery Theatre in the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.

The forum’s theme is “Expect the Unexpected.” Live presentations will occur in front of a limited audience of 100 members of the Penn community, but a live video stream of the event will be available at

Among the scheduled speakers are Jonah Berger, a professor of marketing at Wharton who specializes in the spread of viral ideas online; Jason Halpern, the founder and CEO of PowerFlower Solar, a seed stage solar technology company developing a portable, durable solar generator for farmers and the military; and Thor Halvorssen, a human rights advocate and film producer who is president of the New York-based Human Rights Foundation, an organization devoted to liberating political prisoners and promoting tolerance and democracy in Latin America. A complete list of speakers can be found at

TED – which stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design – began 25 years ago as a four-day conference designed to spread world-changing ideas through presentations lasting no longer than 18 minutes. The conference grew into an annual event attracting some of the world’s most innovative thinkers, activists and business leaders.

Previous TED speakers have included Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, former Vice President Al Gore, businessman Sir Richard Branson, designer Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a World Bank director, novelist Isabel Allende and Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Since then, the TED organization has begun TEDGlobal, which holds a conference each year in Oxford, England, and independent TEDx conferences such as the one at Penn.

To learn more about the TEDxPenn event, visit To learn more about the TED program in general, visit

Originally published on September 30, 2010