It’s just been made public that I will be presenting at @TEDxPSU next March 1st. The official announcement is on TEDx’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/TEDxPSU) and the bio text is mostly copied from my Wikipedia entry, which makes me – and by implication the talk – sound super academic and scary. (Especially since the previously announced speaker is PSU’s football coach!)
Anyhow, I plan to use my few minutes of fame to talk about the “Math for Sustainability” project. I want to say two things. The first thing is that mathematics – the “measuring, changing, risking, networking” toolkit that I have identified as central to MATH 033 – helps us see clearly, helps us to understand the choices and tradeoffs we are making today and the consequences that we are accepting for tomorrow. The second thing though is that this clarity will not somehow absolve us from accepting responsibility for our values, as though we could somehow outsource ethics to a giant cost-benefit analysis. Feel free to share how you think these two themes, and this tension, can somehow be conveyed in ten minutes of TED format.
I have just started working with “speaker consultants”, etc, about the talk. It is clear that this is going to be very different from the kind of math lecture where the speaker walks into the room, fumbles around for a stick of chalk, and just goes with the flow. I am nervous – and excited! If you pray, pray that I will do this right. It’s a great opportunity.