What if students were given five minutes to talk about any subject they found fascinating?
This idea is the basis for “AweTalks,” an open platform where Southern Oregon University students can show off their collective genius, speaking about anything and everything for up to five minutes.
Hosted by the Associated Students of Southern Oregon University, the event has a very loose, casual structure, much like an open-mic night. Students can sign up to speak in advance or at any point during the night, and even speak multiple times on different subjects.
This first of the AweTalks on Nov. 7 was relatively small, but nine people ended up speaking throughout the night. Both the flier for the event and the website reflected that literally any topic is open for discussion. Topics included: a normative free purpose to the universe, group formation, humanism, the Occupy movement, inter-connectivity social dynamics at SOU, colors, cultural construction of reality, evolution, and the value of children’s ideas.
AweTalks is the brainchild of Kyle Pate, ASSOU director of communications.
“Despite the proliferation of the Internet, very few of the vast variety of perspectives are broadcast,” said Pate in a video, explaining one of the thoughts behind the creation of AweTalks.
Pate spent the summer working at an internship in Santa Fe, N. M. While he was there, a group of people began taking turns talking about what fascinated them for a few minutes each. Pate decided he wanted to do something similar once he got back to Southern Oregon University.
Though the name is similar to TEDTalks (a daily podcast put out by the organization Technology, Entertainment, Design or TED), Pate wanted to differentiate between the two projects.
Whereas TEDTalks tend to be more formal presentations and are often persuasive, Pate stressed the fact that AweTalks are simply about what students find fascinating. He also hoped some students might be inspired by the subjects discussed.
The Nov. 7 AweTalks were held at Elmo’s at the Stevenson Union, though it is unclear whether or not this will be the permanent location.
Pate plans to hold more AweTalks in the future, but has yet to determine how frequently. He explained one of the difficulties with scheduling AweTalks is searching for a good date and time that doesn’t conflict with other events on campus. In the meantime, Pate is in talks with KSCO to start an AweTalks podcast which begins recording this month, according to the website.
General consensus from the crowd indicated the event was well-received and students would be willing to attend often.
“I would do this every week,” said Joshua Danielson, ASSOU president and one of the speakers in attendance.
The video Pate created describing the AweTalks was shown twice during the event. The video can be seen below at the AweTalks website.