Though the non-profit organization TED has been around since 1984, its short (18 minutes or less), exciting talks about technology, education, and other issues have become the rage the last few years, now reaching millions. Residents, in cities like Washington, DC, have enjoyed series of free, interesting, live lectures for years through the Smithsonian. ASU’s version-Public Service Impact Talks-was held Jan. 26, 2016, in downtown Phoenix, Arizona.
There have been other fine series, hosted by Project Humanities, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Center for the Study of Race and Democracy, and others to broaden Phoenicians’ perspectives about “large” or global issues, e.g., racism or the future of organ transplants. The lectures usually feature popular authors, celebrities or top medical experts, and attract large crowds.
The Impact Talks are different. The speakers are ASU faculty or students, who are talking about research that directly affects local communities. The talks are short, like the TED talks, and provide practical solutions. The lectures are promoted as “real solutions to real problems.”
“These talks reveal something new,” said Dean of the College of Public Service & Community Solutions Jonathan Koppell at the Cronkite Auditorium session, “They will be exciting, and accessible to the public.”
There was a topical talk on the impact of 75,000 refugees on socio-economics in Phoenix. Dr. David Androff described how to assist the refugees, from Iraq, Somalia, Burma and other countries, who have settled here, and how the refugees are helping themselves through training, social entrepreneurship and cooperatives, like the New American Community.
Brenna and Paul Yaekle took Metrorail to the Impact Talks because they wanted information on identity theft. Dr. Shawn Novak grabbed everyone’s attention when he talked about the challenges faced by IRS (six million fraudulent refund requests), and recommended that people avoid temporary storefront tax preparers and file early to beat the crooks (first filing is considered the legitimate one).
Finally, Dr. Flavio Marsiglia engaged people when he discussed factors that influence behavior, and the international popularity of his Keepin’ It Real (refuse, explain, avoid and leave) approach that helps teenagers delay use of alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana.
The Impact Talks (Night of the Open Door is the next one on Feb. 12), located in downtown Phoenix, will offer Arizona residents free and down-to-earth education about issues that affect their lives and livelihoods.