Rice University faculty members Anthony Brandt, Stephen Klineberg and Jeffrey Kripal were among the experts invited to speak at the 2012 TEDxHouston, and videos of their lectures are now posted online.
TEDx is a branch of TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design), a nonprofit organization devoted to “Ideas Worth Sharing.” The organization hosts annual conferences in the U.S. and abroad that bring together thinkers and doers from around the world, who are challenged to give “the talk of their lives” (aka “TED talks”) in 18 minutes or less. TEDxHouston was created to help introduce Houston’s “Ideas Worth Sharing” to a local and global audience. The 2012 TED talks were presented Nov. 3 at the Asia Society Texas Center.
Brandt, an associate professor of composition and theory in the Shepherd School of Music, presented “Do Minds Need Art?” He examined recent research in brain science to argue that creativity is not a luxury or gift but an essential feature of human cognition that operates in everyone. Brandt explored his concepts of “bending, breaking and blending” as a way of uniting all creativity in a single cognitive framework, and closed by arguing that minds need art because human thinking is an art form. The talk included live musical examples, including a “TEDx lullaby” that Brandt wrote especially for the occasion; it was performed by students from the Shepherd School of Music.
Klineberg, a professor of sociology and co-director of Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research, presented “Is Houston About to Experience an Urban Renaissance?” He outlined findings from 14 years (1999-2012) of the Kinder Houston Area Survey, an annual measure of how Houston-area residents are responding to the region’s economic and demographic transformations.
Kripal is chair of the Department of Religious Studies and the J. Newton Rayzor Professor of Religious Studies. His presentation, “Authors of the Impossible,” used the tools of the humanities to make sense of people’s paranormal experiences as living narratives or stories they themselves are “authoring.” His main case study was Mark Twain, who reported such experiences throughout his career and used them as inspirations for his writing.