Wednesday, June 13, 2012

TEDxChesterRiver Brings Thought-Provoking TED Talks Concept to the College Campus June 30

"The Tolkien Professor" Corey Olsen will speak at TEDxChesterRiver.

CHESTERTOWN, MD—A local version of the popular TED talks will bring a dozen speakers to the Washington College campus Saturday afternoon, June 30. Organized by Chestertown resident Elise Kolaja, the half-day event, TEDxChesterRiver, is scheduled for 1 to 6 p.m. in the Gibson Center for the Arts, and will host a range of notables, from former Congressman Wayne Gilchrest and guitar maker Paul Reed Smith to human-animal bonding expert Meg Daley Olmert—all to address the broad theme of “Where We Belong.
College Athletic Director Bryan Matthews will talk about how parents
can best help their children successfully navigate college life.
Also included on the roster are two experts from Washington College—Athletic Director Bryan Matthews and English professor Corey Olsen. Matthews will draw from both personal and professional experience for his talk, “College as a Family Affair: Navigating the Maze.” He and his wife, professional singer Sue Matthews, have sent two sons off to higher education, and he’s helped guide thousands of other students through college over the course of his career. “I contend that there needs to be a serious reframing of the relationship between colleges, students and parents,” he says. “Particularly, parents need to change their approach to the college project. They don’t need to cut the cord, just stretch it.”
Professor Olsen, a noted Tolkien expert, will explore the connection between academia and technology. His starting point will be his own successful experiences as the online “Tolkien Professor,” podcasting about the fantasy author’s works. Olsen’s book, Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit,” will be published this fall by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Organizer Kolaja says the theme of the 12 brief talks in this inaugural TEDxChesterRiver is “Where We Belong.” Each talk attempts to chart in some way where we fit in “among the species and in nature, in our culture, in history and prehistory, and even in the universe,” she says. A complete schedule and list of speakers is on the event web site:
Founded in 1984 by architect and graphic designer Richard Saul Wurman, TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a series of global conferences founded to disseminate “ideas worth spreading.” TED talks have been given by thoughtful notables ranging from poet Billy Collins to software billionaire Bill Gates and singer-activist Bono. The series has grown in scope and popularity over the years and has distributed its talks on the Internet since 2006. To accommodate the increasing demand for intellectual stimulation and discussion, TED founded TEDx, which allows independent organizers like Kolaja to use the TED license and format in their community with locally selected lecturers.
Tickets for the Chestertown event can be purchased on the TEDxChesterRiver website ( at $30 per seat. Registration will close end of day Thursday, June 28.  Admission includes a beverage break and a happy hour reception. For more information about TED or footage of past TED talks visit