First Tedx MSU Gathering Explores “Glocal”

Mar 30, 2012

For going on three years, local organizers have exposed cutting edge ideas in technology, entertainment and design at TEDx Lansing.  Now, for the first time, East Lansing organizers are hosting a TED event. 

It’s Saturday, March 31 from 10 am-4pm at Michigan State University’s Business College Complex.

Local TED “x” events like this one often adopt their own themes. WKAR’s Mark Bashore takes a look at the agenda. 

Amber Cordell is an organizer of TEDx MSU.  She says presentations will explore two curiously related trends: globalization and localization. 

“We really want people to think about globalization and why that is so important, but at the same time, we want to think to think about local initiatives as well,” she explains. 

Nine speakers spanning the corporate world, academia, the creative sector and activism will make addresses. 

Dr. Jamie Hsu was an engineer and executive at General Motors for 32 years.  Decades of work and business travel--and his Taiwanese roots--give him a keen perspective on globalization’s impact on working life.  He’ll urge young people in particular to brace themselves for careers of relentless change. 

“Ten years ago, (the) ten top jobs didn’t exist,” he says. “Bio-engineering in the medical field, biomedical stuff.  In engineering, mega-tronics—how you combine electronics with mechanical things.”

Hsu compares this still-accelerating rate of change in modern life to a tsunami.

“And it’s going to be faster and faster," he says. "If you’re not careful, you’re going to wonder what happened.”

He says that’s partly because consumers can select products and services from all over the world on the internet.  Buying--and hiring--locally is no longer a given.

For another presenter--Dr. Geri Zeldes--the global/local theme is personal.  Decades before her academic success as an MSU professor, Zeldes and her family had to navigate American life as immigrants from the Philippines. It was a period of wrenching readjustments.  She remembers her father, a college-educated accountant.

“And he wasn’t able to get a job here in Michigan, so the job he was able to get was a job as a janitor in a nursing home,” she recalls.

Zeldes says the importance of these stories is the reason she became a documentary filmmaker. She’s proud and grateful to have  eventually become an American citizen.  But she says globalization  sometimes ignores discrimination and other injustices.

“There have been certain portrayals of people of color that haven’t reached the surface,” she says. “And I think another more political idea that I would like to share is to consider the current status of immigration policy in the United States.”

Speaker Jeff Jorge’s message takes some of Zeldes’ ideas in a brighter direction. 

“We currently live in one of the best times in history to be a global citizen, and to bring one’s aspirations closer to reality,” he says.                 

The Brazil native came to the United States for college. Today, he’s a global business consultant based in the Detroit area   His path has led to encounters with hundreds of people from dozens of countries.  Jorge says social media and other features of modern life offer mind-boggling opportunities for people all over the world to connect.  Every link, he believes, is an opportunity to grow.

“We have this invisible string that ties us all together.  We’re all going through life.  We’re all facing experiences and those experiences are shaping how we see the world. And what decisions we make after those experiences change.”

Jorge discusses how to optimize this ‘post-change’ decision-making.

There’s an activists’ zeal to the MSU agenda that appears to emphasize social justice more than technological innovation. But organizers say the event stays true to the TED mantra:  “ideas worth considering.”