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English professor Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz of Columbia University speaks at last year's TEDxPenn conference on April 16, 2022.

Credit: Michael Palacios

TEDxPenn will hold its 2023 conference, titled “(R)evolution,” on April 1, featuring 10 speakers from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds. 

The conference, which focuses on change and transformation, will take place in the Annenberg Center for Performing Arts, starting at 1 p.m. Notable speakers this year include filmmaker and 1992 Penn graduate Anthony Russo and Majority Whip in the Pennsylvania House Jordan Harris.

This year's theme was submitted by Tarunyaa Sivakumar, Director of Speaker and Content for TEDxPenn and Engineering sophomore.

The idea highlights “the double play between the words revolution and evolution,” Sivakumar said. “We wanted to talk about the difference between natural development and artificial development and have the speakers interpret it in whatever way that they see fit.”

Allison Chou, Co-Curator for TEDxPenn and College senior, said that the conference will showcase individuals who are making revolutions in their respective fields and how these fields are evolving.

Other speakers include Penn Dental professor Henry Daniell, digital content creator Shahd Batal, philanthropist Steve Gross, Penn Ph.D. student Devin Carroll, filmmaker and activist Peikun Shi, multi-media artist Lyn Godley, physician Ala Stanford, and geostrategist Christopher Tucker. 

“We have changemakers and people who are evolving ideas in their field,” College sophomore and Co-Curator for TEDxPenn Arushi Saxena said. 

Sivakumar and Chou explained that this conference allows Penn students to hear ideas they would not have otherwise.

“When you are in class, you are learning for the sake of a grade or professional development. With TEDx you are learning for the sake of learning. This is something we don’t often get at Penn because of the pre-professional culture,” Sivakumar said.

Chou felt similarly, stating that the conference is a “chance to get exposed to ideas you would not have gotten in your lectures.”

Each speaker for the conference had to go through an audition process with TEDxPenn. Normally, TEDxPenn fields around 20 to 25 auditions. This year, they received more than 50, according to the leaders of the event. 

“We wanted to choose speakers who would deliver something useful and that Penn students would want to listen to, [but we also] wanted to find people with a creative, unique idea that only they could talk about,” Chou said.

Saxena agreed that speakers were chosen based on how they would resonate with students.

“We wanted our speaker list to look like our campus," Saxena said. “We wanted diversity in background and thought.”

Founded in 2010, TEDxPenn is a self-organized program of events that attract over 1000 attendees annually. Past themes have included "UNKNOWN" and "In/Sight."