Vera Summit hosted its first event on Sunday, gathering about 100 students in Ryan Auditorium to discuss interdisciplinary “topics outside the sphere of traditional academia.”
Reminiscent of the global conference TED Talks, Vera Summit seeks to “inspire social and scholarly discourse among students,” according to the Vera Summit website. Summit founder and Weinberg junior Jeziel Jones emceed the event, which featured a series of ten student speakers.
The talks ranged in topics from healthcare equality to global Internet culture. One speaker, Weinberg junior Felix Richter presented his research on theranostics, a multipurpose process of diagnosing and treating diseases. Another talk, given by McCormick senior F Michael Chua, proposed that schools teach “history backwards,” a curriculum model that begins with relevant contemporary issues and puts them into context by examining historical events.
The fifth talk, it appeared, was the event’s main attraction. Audible cheers and applause greeted Weinberg sophomore Mark Silberg as he began his joint presentation with McCormick junior Paige Humecki, “Mark and Paige Ruin Your Next Meal: An Exploration of the Global Food System.”
Silberg outlined the inefficiency of fossil fuels and the high concentration of food production among a few firms. Emphasizing the unsustainbility of the global food system, he pointed out that 2,500 people will have starved to death during the Vera Summit.
Recognizing consumer buying power is the most crucial in solving this food crisis, Humecki said. She encouraged the audience to spend their grocery money on sustainable foods at local farmers markets and, quoting author and activist Michael Pollan, to “vote with your fork, and you can do it three times a day.”
In addition to a speaker panel, the event featured a dance performance by Bienen junior Rohan Lewis. Each Vera Summit will also launch a “new student venture” in the spirit of providing space for innovation, Jones said. This year, Communication senior Charles Agbaje presented Spider Stories, an experimental animation series based on tales from West African oral tradition. Agbaje co-created the project with his brother John, a University of Pennsylvania graduate.
In the future, Vera Summit plans to host events at other schools like University of Chicago, University of Illinois and Loyola University.
Editor's note 4/30, 4:08 p.m: The original version of the headline stated that the event was held in Norris, not Tech. NBN regrets the error.