TED Talks have been one of the internet’s more positive aspects since they began popping up online, and a format that has been replicated for a variety of situations.

In 2011, students at Waseda University created their own version of the Technology, Entertainment and Design conference via a non-profit called TED×WasedaU. It is currently the only TEDx Japan organization that offers presentations in both Japanese and English, a decision that underlines the students’ desire to be heard by a diverse audience.

On the heels of its 10th anniversary, the TED×WasedaU team is aiming to put on its biggest event yet, which means an impressive lineup of speakers for its July 18 conference. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the event will not be held in person. However, attendees can sign up to be a part of the virtual audience for the event, which begins at 1 p.m.

The theme this year is “Eclipse,” which TED×WasedaU Finance team leader Yaron Luigi Ludwig says “is based off of the brief shift from darkness to light in the wake of unprecedented social changes and challenges.” Then, in a nod to the motto of the original TED Talks, he adds that “with ‘Eclipse,’ we welcome a new beginning in our mission of sharing ‘ideas worth spreading.’”

Presenters at the upcoming conference include Kentaro Iwata, an infectious disease expert at Kobe University who has become a prominent voice on social media during the pandemic. TED×WasedaU organizers say virtual attendees can expect a deep dive into the science behind infectious diseases and why last year’s Diamond Princess cruise ship incident was so troubling from a medical standpoint.

The organizers say the inclusion of Iwata is particularly useful as the amount of information about the pandemic has been so ubiquitous that many have shut off from conversations that focus on what we should be learning from this once-in-a-century experience.

Another presenter will be Ryo Miyake, an Olympic fencer who has been working as a delivery person for Uber Eats since the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics last year. With a lack of tournaments to compete in came a decrease in sponsorship opportunities, but Miyake says working as a delivery person provided much-needed exercise and some extra income during the on-and-off state of emergency.

Each of the 10 speakers will represent a category including art, mental health, LGBTQ+, science, social business, female empowerment, sustainability and sports. Non-Japanese speakers include Boundless founder Dennis Chia, Code Chrysalis co-founder Yan Fan and drag queen Goma Dango.

“Diversity in Japan,” says Ludwig, “is often overlooked as a social issue by our mostly Japanese university student audience. It is a priority for our Speaker team in selecting and inviting the speakers.”

TED×WasedaU organizer Chihiro Nakane adds that the team wants “to inspire people through diverse content, that’s why our speakers come from different backgrounds. We hope this encourages people, Japanese and non-Japanese to join us and grow together.”

TED×WasedaU’s “Eclipse” takes place on July 18 from 1 p.m. Participants can also sign up for a post-event Zoom session and choose from a variety of rooms to participate in. For more information and to see talks from previous years, visit www.tedxwasedau.com.

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