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‘Surreal’ Goals: Ammar Tanveer’s TEDxASU returns to Gammage


Annika Tomlin     College Times

When Ammar Tanveer created TEDxASU five years ago, he had one goal: bringing it to the ASU Gammage stage.

“I remember standing on the balcony at Gammage and saying to my friends, ‘In four years, we’re going to be here,’” he recalls.

The first TEDxASU hosted only 100 people. The second and third years, it moved to the Tempe Center for the Arts to fit 700 people. In 2019, the event at ASU Gammage brought in around 1,500 guests.

“Last year, having it actually happen was the most surreal, crazy thing,” he says.

This year it returns to Gammage and hosts eight speakers on Saturday, April 4. This year’s theme, “Flux,” represents a seminal year for clarity, reflection and revision on the hot-button topics of today.

“We re-evaluate,” Tanveer says. “We are in a constant state of flux.”

The speakers include Jay Baer (“Not losing our humanity in an AI-ruled world”); Dr. Leland Hartwell (“Science education and how we know what we know”); Dr. Nadya Bliss (“Global security/AI and data collection”); George Poste (“Media overhyping infectious diseases and contributing to mass panic and how we can be better prepared”); Andrew Maynard (“Architects of our future”); Jen Cole (“Arts currency”) and Wayne Unger (“Legalities of data privacy”). The final speaker will be a surprise.

“Dr. Hartwell is going to talk about how science should be less about memorizing and more about applying it at a much earlier stage in students’ careers,” Tanveer says.

“Dr. Bliss will talk about the mass amounts of info out there and how easily info is manipulated by the public. And Jen Cole is talking about the misconception of artists and how they can be used to help solve complex problems on our society.”

Most of the speakers are affiliates of ASU who want to expand ASU students’ minds.

“They’re not just lecturing you. They have their own hobbies and interests and passion beyond lecturing,” Tanveer says. “What you learn in the classroom can go so much deeper than what you’re learning and can be applied through so many different mechanisms.

Tanveer says the event was created to give back to the school and encourage students to get involved.

“I want to showcase to everyone around myself and my fellow students that there is so much more than this university has to offer besides classes,” Tanveer says. “The goal has always been, ‘For the students, by the students.’”

Through TEDxASU, Tanveer hopes students will be unafraid to second guess themselves and try new things.

“I hate the phrase, ‘Don’t second guess yourself,’” Tanveer says. “Always second guess yourself. If you don’t second guess yourself and take the time to reanalyze your thoughts or your viewpoints, we’d all be babies right now.” CT



2020 “Flux”

ASU Gammage, 1200 S. Forest Avenue, Tempe, 480.965.3434, tedxasu.com, 7 p.m. Saturday, April 4, tickets start at $12.75.


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