Historians, an etymologist, a plant scientist, a population biologist, a cognitive neuroscientist and a member of the Hellenic Parliament are among those taking part in an unusual parliamentary event on Friday.
TEDxHousesofParliament is the latest of the popular TEDx events that bring together experts in different fields with the public to discuss "ideas worth spreading".
TED – Technology, Entertainment, Design – is intended to stimulate dialogue through their franchised events. Since its launch in 2006 videos of TED presentations have been viewed more than 500 million times.
Friday’s event has been organised by the Commons public engagement team led by Aileen Walker.
“We will be trying out a new way of connecting people,” she said.
“We have collected together high-quality speakers from all different sorts of disciplines to talk about the theme of democracy to challenge the audience to think about what democracy and representation means.
“We do have some politicians. Rory Stewart, who is already a TED participant, you can find his earlier presentations on TED.com. We also have Lord Hennessey and Eva Kaili, the youngest MP in the Greek parliament, is coming.”
The event is above all for those members of the public who have bought tickets and want to see democracy in different, sometimes unexpected ways.
For example, there will be music from Baaba Maal, a short film on “How to Start a Movement”, presentations on social media, hyperlocal activism, the erosion of empathy, democratising fashion, the edible landscape of the people and what we can learn from watching bees.
The Clerk of the Commons, Robert Rogers, will also be talking at the event, on the theme of ‘how the new can live with the old’.
“It is a bit of an experiment for us, we are trying a new thing to see whether this is a way of extending our reach,” Ms Walker explained.
“TED is a really big movement and a lot of people are TED devotees. We hope we can pull them in and get them thinking about democracy and parliament.
“Some of Rory Stewart’s TED videos have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times.”
There are strict TEDx rules and a tried and tested format. The presentations have to be filmed on high quality video that goes online.
“This will give us a bank of resources that we can use in our other public engagement work,” said Ms Walker.
“I went to the TEDx Observer event a year ago it was just such an inspiring day. The maximum length of a presentation is 18 minutes. You mix up all these different sorts of disciplines. They have all got a story about tradition or democracy, about the individual in society or local point of view.”
She added: “It is a ticketed event - the idea is that it is self-financing. The price is might seem quite high - £60 for the day ticket - the Observer event was £65.
“People who are interested are used to that cost. Because it is a franchise it is a fairly risk-free way of trying something new as it has a format.
“The aim is to make the event self-funding and the talks will be filmed and published online, which will extend the reach and impact of the event.”
For more information about TEDxHousesofParliament visit the website.