5 TED Talks That Spark Social Change [LIST]

Motivation and inspiration await you with this selection of fascinating movers and shakers

Sep 12, 2014

Screenshot from Bill Gates' TED Talk Innovating to Zero 

TED is not some guy you went to high school with, but an innovative nonprofit dedicated to spreading new and revolutionary ideas. Through short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less) on a myriad of different topics, TED serves as a platform to give voice to diverse individuals from every discipline and culture imaginable. Speakers prepare and present concise and fascinating presentations, to inspire and open the minds of eager listeners, exposing them to a new world of knowledge. Included in the TED family is TEDx, independent and locally-run conferences across the globe run by volunteers, in addition to the learning series TED-Ed. From thousands of incredible, mind-blowing talks, we have whittled the selection down to five lectures that will motivate you to get up and make a difference in the world.

1. KIDS, TAKE CHARGE 
SPEAKER: 
Kiran Sethi, Founder of Riverside School
IN A NUTSHELL: Kiran Sethi believes in two words, I Can. She explains that once someone is infected with the I Can bug,change is unstoppable. As the founder of the Riverside School in Ahmedabad, India, which merges real world experience with formal schooling, Sethi provides several real life examples of empowered children that are making a difference.
WORDS TO REMEMBER: “So, today who is it going to take to spread the infection (I Can) from 100,000 children to the 200 million children in India? Last I heard, the preamble still said, "We, the people of India," right? So, if not us, then who? If not now, then when?”

2. ABUNDANCE IS OUR FUTURE  
SPEAKER: 
Peter Diamandis, Founder of the X Prize Foundation
IN A NUTSHELL: Peter Diamandis is focused on optimism as the vehicle for solving the challenges ahead. In his talk he gives numerous examples of how the 21st century is one of the best times to be alive, as it is brimming with technological innovation and plentiful resources.
WORDS TO REMEMBER: “When I think about creating abundance, it's not about creating a life of luxury for everybody on this planet; it's about creating a life of possibility. It is about taking that which was scarce and making it abundant."

3. LESS STUFF MORE HAPPINESS  
SPEAKER: 
Graham Hill, Founder of Treehugger and Life Edited
IN A NUTSHELL: Graham Hill speaks about the benefits of downsizing or editing your life. He provides three steps to minimize material goods and shows how that approach can lead to a smaller eco-footprint and less stress.
WORDS TO REMEMBER: “So when you go home and you walk through your front door, take a second and ask yourselves, "Could I do with a little life editing? Would that give me a little more freedom? Maybe a little more time?"

4. AN ULTRA-LOW-COST COLLEGE DEGREE
SPEAKER: 
Shai Reshef, Founder of University of the People
IN A NUTSHELL: The nonprofit, tuition-free, degree-granting University of the People founder Shai Reshef speaks about the need for better access to higher education. He explains why he created the Goodnet approved online learning institution and how it is leveling the playing field by giving individuals the opportunity to further their education.
WORDS TO REMEMBER: “A new era is coming, an era that will witness the disruption of the higher education model as we know it today, from being a privilege for the few to becoming a basic right, affordable and accessible for all.”

5. WHY BUSINESS CAN BE GOOD AT SOLVING SOCIAL PROBLEMS  
SPEAKER: 
Michael Porter, University Professor at Harvard Business School
IN A NUTSHELL: Michael Porter makes the case for businesses taking the lead in remedying society’s biggest issues. He explains that reducing pollution, improving work conditions and providing comprehensive healthcare strengthens businesses and enhances their productivity and increases their profit. It is just a matter of finding that common shared value and the sky’s the limit. 
WORDS TO REMEMBER: “The deeper work, the new work, the new thinking on the interface between business and social problems is actually showing that there's a fundamental, deep synergy…”