28 Jun 2016

Six inspirational TED talks for international educators

TED-inspirationTED talks began in 1984 with a conference bringing together experts and ideas on technology, entertainment and design. Since then, TED became a non-profit organisation “devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less)”. TED has grown into a global community covering all topics with the aim to spark ideas, discussion, and provoke change in our attitudes, lives, and the world. Hopefully these six inspirational talks will give you plenty to reflect on and think about concerning the work we do to further higher education internationalisation efforts.

Taiye Selasi: ‘Don’t ask where I’m from, ask where I’m local’, TedGlobal 2014

All too often when we meet new people, we ask or are asked, ‘Where are you from?’ Taiye Selasi critically analyses this question and explores how a geographical place shapes our experiences, but it is our experiences that truly explain where we are from. The less sexy aspect of this question are the restrictions and power that your answer holds. Does the country you come from really explain who you are? As we work with international students, researchers and colleagues, exploring their experiences can give us insight that their nationality may not.

Rana el Kaliouby: ‘This app knows how you feel – from the look on your face’, TedWomen 2015

An international PhD student at Cambridge, Rana el Kaliouby, was spending a lot of time on her computer, working with data and communicating with her family in Egypt. Yet, the intense interaction with technology lacked emotional connection or intelligence. What would happen if technology could interact with our emotions? How would this change the experiences of mobile students and researchers? Rana el Kaliouby takes listeners on a journey exploring the possibilities of connecting emotions with the digital experience.

Benny Lewis: ‘Hacking language learning’, TedxWarsaw 2013

An inspirational talk about language learning. Benny Lewis lived in Spain for six months and was struggling with the Spanish language until he changed his attitude and strategy. He outlines myths of language learning, tips, and claims that anyone can acquire a new language regardless of age, money, poor memory or natural ability. Time to dive in and learn a new language!

Michael Green: ‘How we can make the world a better place by 2030’, TedGlobal 2015

In 2015, the United Nations introduced 17 sustainable development goals encompassing a wide-reaching agenda to achieve by 2030. All governments and institutions, including higher education, are being called on to take action and contribute to the agenda. Can this vision for a better world really be achieved? Michael Green, a social progress expert, explains how these goals can be realised via the social progress index – a tool that measures the social and environmental needs of citizens. It is definitely going to take more than economic growth and this is where international education comes in. We have the ability to influence the education of future generations to facilitate a more sustainable approach to living. We have the ability to encourage international partnerships aimed at one of the 17 goals.

Ken Blanchard: ‘Collaboration – Affect/Possibility’, TEDxSanDiego 2012

As strategic partnerships and development cooperation continue to grow and evolve in the field of international education, mastering the art of collaboration is essential. In this talk, Ken Blanchard talks about the essence and form of collaboration. Essence helps all partners understand one another’s core values, whereas form is how a collaboration is put to practice and operationalised. Blanchard suggests that when beginning a discussion with a potential partner, focusing in on the essence of collaboration builds a strong foundation for future cooperation.

Melissa Fleming: ‘How to help refugees rebuild their world’, TedGlobal 2014

Higher education and more specifically international education has been called on to respond and play a critical role in the current refugee crisis by offering sanctuary, hope and opportunities for refugee populations. Melissa Fleming offers a visual and inspiring call to action, “let’s help them not just survive, but thrive.” She shares the story of a refugee who explained to her, “If I am not a student, I am nothing…” You don’t want to miss Melissa Fleming featured as the closing keynote speaker at the 2016 Annual EAIE Conference in Liverpool.

Sometimes getting inspiration from outside of our daily work environments encourage us to think out of the box and approach problems from a creative perspective. Hopefully these Ted talks inspire you to reflect and think about the important work we do.

What is your favourite TED talk that aligns with the work you do in international education? 

Leasa is Knowledge Development Adviser at the EAIE.