2008 TED Prize winners, from left: author Dave Eggers, Authority on comparative religions Karen Armstrong, cosmologist Neil Turok
A staunch advocate of teachers, Eggers instituted a monthly grant for exceptional Bay Area teachers, and in 2005 co-wrote Teachers Have It Easy: The Big Sacrifices and Small Salaries of America’s Teachers. His interest in oral history led to his 2004 cofounding of Voice of Witness, a nonprofit series of books that use oral history to illuminate human rights crises around the world. He recently co-wrote, with Spike Jonze, the film adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.
Dave Eggers’ Wish
“I wish that you — you personally and every creative individual and organization you know — will find a way to directly engage with a public school in your area, and that you’ll then tell the story of how you got involved, so that within a year we have 1,000 examples of innovative public-private partnerships.”
How TED Helped
- HOT Studio built the first phase of a website — www.onceuponaschool.org — to power Dave’s wish by: Providing guidelines for partnering with schools and receiving pledges and stories of involvement.
- The second phase of the site was built by HOT Studio and Carbon Five. It includes social networking functionality (teacher/wish-granter connections), a robust tracking system for projects/ideas/stories, and the ability for metatagging and search functionality (by geography, topic, age groups, etc.).
- Built awareness around the wish to recruit public school champions across America and maybe even beyond.
- Inspired companies and individuals to connect with their schools and ensure we will have 1,000 stories told.
Karen Armstrong is one of the most provocative, original thinkers on the role of religion in the modern world. Armstrong is a former Roman Catholic nun who left a British convent to pursue a degree in modern literature at Oxford. In 1982 she wrote a book about her seven years in the convent, Through the Narrow Gate, that angered and challenged Catholics worldwide; her recent book The Spiral Staircase discusses her subsequent spiritual awakening after leaving the convent, when she began to develop her iconoclastic take on the great monotheistic religions.
Karen Armstrong’s Wish
“I wish that you would help with the creation, launch and propagation of a Charter for Compassion, crafted by a group of leading inspirational thinkers from the three Abrahamic traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam and based on the fundamental principles of universal justice and respect.”
How TED Helped
The Charter for Compassion was unveiled on November 12, 2009. You can read and affirm it online.
- After discussing Karen’s wish with the TED community, interfaith groups, and others, the Charter for Compassion has developed into a broader, more innovative, and more modern movement.
- Jesse Dylan and his team at FreeForm created a video to promote participation in writing the Charter.
- Kluster developed a website to open the writing of the Charter to people all around the world, of all faith traditions, nationalities, languages, and backgrounds. The online writing took place in late Fall 2008.
- In February 2009 the words of the world were collected and given to the Council of Conscience, a gathering of high-level religious leaders and thinkers, who are now crafting the final document.
- WORKSHOP and Easy! Designs created a new website to launch the Charter in November 2009.
- Ogilvy PR helped spread the word via traditional press and online media.
- Yves Behar and fuseproject designed a wood art piece (plaque) to be hung in secular and religious buildings around the world.
Neil Turok holds the Chair of Mathematical Physics at Cambridge University. In 1992 he was awarded the James Clerk Maxwell medal of the Institute of Physics for his contributions to theoretical physics.
Turok has worked in a number of areas of mathematical physics and early-universe physics, focusing on observational tests of fundamental physics in cosmology. In the early 1990s, his group showed how the polarization and temperature anisotropies of the cosmic background radiation would be correlated, a prediction which has been confirmed in detail by recent precision measurements by the WMAP satellite mission. The team also developed a key test for the presence of the cosmological constant, also recently confirmed.
Neil Turok’s Wish
“My wish is that you help us unlock and nurture scientific talent across Africa, so that within our lifetimes we are celebrating an African Einstein.”
How TED Helped
- Based on a highly successful existing prototype, attracted support to build centers of excellence in Africa, recruiting outstanding students from all over the continent and the best lecturers from all over the world. The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in Cape Town is a proven model for the Next Einstein from Africa initiative. Recruiting 50 students a year from across Africa, its innovative course teaches cutting-edge skills and provides exposure to a wide range of science and technology disciplines. At the same time, it serves as a vehicle for cultural understanding and learning among the diverse student population.
- Launched the Next Einstein from Africa program, at the opening of the new Research Centre at AIMS on May 12, 2008. Attendees included Stephen Hawking, David Gross (Nobel Prize for Physics, 2004), George Smoot (Nobel Prize for Physics, 2006), Mike Griffin (head of NASA), and the South African Ministers of Education and of Science and Technology.
- Razorfish built the Next Einstein site highlighting successful students like the AIMS graduates, providing inspiration and encouragement to others.
- Developed a roll-out plan for 15 AIMS across Africa under the umbrella of The Next Einstein Initiative.