TEDxCSU presents themes of bridging social divides and creating positive change

On March 5, Colorado State University hosted TEDxCSU, an independently-organized event that featured eleven speakers from CSU and the Northern Colorado community. The event was based on the TED mission of promoting “ideas worth spreading.” Each speaker talked about a social or environmental issue. They often intertwined their concept with personal stories to create a powerful message about the need for change and our capabilities to accomplish these changes.

Joe von Fischer, a biology professor at CSU presented his research focused on locating methane emissions. Von Fisher wants to find a way to test for methane emissions in urban areas. By putting methane sensors on Google Street View cars, which drive around to provide mapping data for Google Maps, von Fischer can collect data on the location and size of methane leaks in cities.

Dr. Joe von Fischer

But von Fischer didn’t want to just aggregate data. He wanted to create social change and encourage people to be more concerned about their environment. With the help of the CSU computer sciences department and a social psychologist, he was able to transform his data into interactive maps that show the locations and severity of methane leaks in several major cities.

The maps are posted on the Environmental Defense Fund website with the goal of raising awareness about the leaks and encouraging people to advocate for their repairs.

Von Fischer shows off the methane-sensing tech on a Google Streetview car.

Some TEDxCSU speakers focused on issues like racism, feminism and invisible disabilities. A common theme was the need to understand others who are different from us in order to build a society where everyone can feel comfortable sharing their perspectives without backlash.

Other speakers addressed the treatment of prisoners in high-security prisons, big cat ownership in the U.S., the inherent nature of prejudice, and deja vu.

In addition to the presentations, TEDxCSU featured Innovation Alley, a collection of booths where attendees could speak to local businesses and organizations engaged in innovative practices. There was also musical entertainment provided by DJ Cavem and the O.G. (Organic Gardener), who combined hip-hop music with live juicing and a DJ table where the fruits and veggies made sound effects.

DJ Cavem and the O.G. make music and juice.

Check out the methane leak maps built from Joe von Fischer’s Streetview car data.

More information about the TEDxCSU 2017 speakers here.