TEDxBSU speakers predict the future changes of 2040

By Stephanie Dawber

News Editor

Queen Butahe tells students to "speak up." Photo by Stephanie Dawber.
Queen Butahe tells students to “speak up.” Photo by Stephanie Dawber.


If you could change the future, what would it be?

This question was answered by several speakers at Bridgewater State University’s very first TEDxBSU. The goal of TEDxBSU is to spark conversation and discussion through local TED-like experiences. TEDx events are coordinated independently, under a free license granted by TED.

TED’s slogan is “ideas worth spreading,” which brings innovative speakers and topics to the forefront of discussion. The live TEDxBSU was held Feb. 23 in the RCC Ballroom.

The list of eight speakers includes BSU students, faculty, staff, and community members. The speakers include: Lisa Boragine, Queen Butahe, Ed Cabellon, James Hayes-Bohanan, Mia Holland, Amma Marfo, Jenny Shanahan, and Madhavi Venkatesan. Each speaker shared their unique predictions and hopes for 2040.

Dr. Mia Holland an advocate of eating disorders and body image issues. Holland serves as the Chair of the Studies of Human Behaviors Programs at Capella University and a visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology at BSU.

She started her presentation by asking the audience, “How many of you think you have the perfect body?” Only three hands in the audience were raised. Consequently, Holland believes body image can change, not by persuading the media, but if society changes their inner thoughts. She concluded her presentation with “Every body is the perfect body.”

Similarly, Madhavi Venkatesan is a faculty member in the Department of Economics at BSU. She calls students to really understand the value of materialistic items such as a tee-shirt, and the exploitation of workers in foreign countries. She argued that “capacity has changed over time,” and “it’s not quantity of life… it’s quality.”

Ed Cabellon, Assistant to the VP of Student Affairs presented, “Level Up! Unlocking the Power of Digital Engagement in Higher Education.” Cabellon said, “I’ve always been fascinated by technology,” and universities like BSU will eventually have to incorporate more technology into their programs. Cabellon is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Educational Leadership at

Johnson and Wales University.

Originally a native of Tanzania and currently studying at BSU, Queen Butahe presented a powerful message about her turbulent life in Africa. She ended her presentation by advocating that “the future is to speak up” and received a standing ovation. For more information, please read her biography, The Luckiest Bastard.

Currently serving as the Director of Undergraduate Research, Jenny Shanahan said, “I love my job, but by 2040, I hope it doesn’t exist.” Consequently, Shanahan hopes research will automatically be a part of the college curriculum in the future.

James Hayes-Bohanan teaches courses in Environmental Geography and the Geography of Latin America at BSU. He argues that by “2040 everyone will know that coffee is a fruit,” and “If we have coffee in 2040, that means we done our part in climate change.” His presentation overviewed the business, economic and environmental importance of coffee.

Lisa Boragine is the Digital Content Designer for Cengage Learning. A life-long fan of Dr. Who, Boragine hypothesizes that “We live immortality in the digital age,” and society is “increasingly fragmented.” Boragine dubbed technology fans as “digital natives” and we must strive to become increasingly present or reach them in their realm.

The last speech featured Amma Marfo, the Assistant Director of Student Activities for Involvement and Assessment at Emmanuel College. Self-described as “thoughtful, yet incurably silly,” Marfo argues that the future will significantly benefit by laughing and looking for the positive throughout turbulent times, such as “famine, war and inequality.”

The event was sponsored by the Student Government Association and the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership. According to Bridgewater State University’s website, “TEDxBSU was designed as a way to inspire more dialogue within our campus community inspired by these creative thinkers.”

Stephanie Dawber is the News Editor of The Comment. Follow her on Twitter @StephanieDawber.

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