5 Alumni TED Talks You Might Have Missed

Mary Bassett
Mary Bassett
Mary Bassett ’79PS: “Why your doctor should care about social justice”

February 2016, TEDMED

New York City health commissioner, Columbia epidemiology professor, and health activist Mary Bassett thinks there’s one thing to blame for the lack of equitable health care in the US: institutional racism. Here she explains why health-care professionals have a moral obligation to change the system.


Joel Putnam
Joel Putnam
Joel Putnam ’15SIPA: “How to crowdsource your laws”

July 2014, TEDx

As this election season shows, the Internet has changed politics. But what if it could change policies? With the help of the Internet, communication consultant Joel Putnam suggests that it’s possible to bypass elected officials altogether and allow citizens to vote on specific policy proposals.


Candy Chang
Candy Chang (Cary Norton)
Candy Chang: ’07GSAPP: “Before I die I want to...”

July 2012, TEDGlobal

Artist and urban planner Candy Chang turned an abandoned house in her New Orleans neighborhood into a giant chalkboard and asked her neighbors to answer a fill-in-the-blank question: “Before I die, I want to...” The answers became a beautiful testament to the vitality of the community.


Cameron Russell
Cameron Russell
Cameron Russell ’12GS: “Looks aren’t everything. Believe me, I’m a model”

October 2012, TEDx

“I’m on this stage because I’m a pretty, white woman,” model Cameron Russell admits in this candid talk about privilege and the complicated ways that society rewards beauty.


Mike Massimino
Mike Massimino (Jane Nisselson / Columbia Engineering)
Mike Massimino ’84SEAS: Spaceflight

November 2012, TEDx

All kids want to go to space when they grow up. Mike Massimino actually did it. Here the former NASA astronaut, Columbia engineering professor, and author of the forthcoming memoir Spaceman explains how “rethinking normal” made it happen.