Top 10 TED Talks for Public Administration Students

1. Kent Larson: Brilliant designs to fit more people in every city


An award winning architect and author of several bestselling books, Kent Larson speaks on the state of the urban living situation. In this talk, he explains how through innovative designs, people living in urban areas are able to live in comfort and also be able to sustain themselves.

2. Beth Noveck: Demand a more open-source government


Beth Noveck founded the White House Open Government Initiative as the country’s first Deputy CTO. It is through these concepts that she introduced administrative policy that is transparent and where participatory collaboration is necessary. In this video, she talks about how citizens need to demand that our government exercise this policy and promote openness with the people they serve.

3. Ellen Dunham-Jones: Retrofitting suburbia


In the greatest era of the American economy, several businesses actively opened up. This was the invention of such things as malls and large area shopping and entertainment centers. The urban infrastructure was centered on these establishments. A half a decade later, many of these outfits lay as partially abandoned wastelands. Famed architect, Ellen Dunham-Jones explains how the key to revitalizing these neighborhoods is to retrofit them and make them sustainable again.

4. Stewart Brand: What squatter cities can teach us


Since the latter part of the 1960s, people have migrated from rural areas to take on life in the big cities. In most of these cases, they live in what can be considered primitive and limiting conditions. Yet they make it work by living in communes and supporting each other. Environmentalist and futurist, Stewart Brand explains in this talk how this kind of living is a good thing and how the rest of us can learn something about the survivalist methods in which they live.

5. Carolyn Steel: How food shapes our cities


Renowned architect and novelist, Carolyn Steel has spent her adult life studying the correlation between how food supplies affect societies. In her observations, she notices a better quality of life in people who have a consistent food source. She relates this information via this talk and explains how it is part of a society’s civic duty to ensure that its people are adequately nourished. She also goes into detail how communities are formed circled around the food source.

6. Edi Rama: Take back your city with paint


Being a socialist politician in his home of Albania certainly doesn’t earn Edi Rama much kudos in the United States but he does present some great ideas on how to revitalize urban areas that are stricken with blight. In this talk, Rama explains how he initiated civic pride and community participation through programs that beautify the cities in which the people live.

7. Noah Feldman: Politics and religion are technologies


As a scholar of the Islamic religion and lawyer, Noah Feldman has studied the effects of religion and politics over communities large and small. In this talk, Feldman makes the bold statement that while vastly different in thought, both theologians and politicians share a common goal. That goal is the need to organize like minded people towards a similar train of thought.

8. Majora Carter: Greening the ghetto


When Y2K hit the rest of the world and people were worried about their bank accounts and the state of the power plants, Majora Carter was planting community gardens in the Bronx. The ghetto in which she called home was an inspiration to her to make her neighborhood a greener place. The passionate Carter speaks with purpose in this talk as she discusses why making urban landscapes more environmentally friendly will not only change the outlook of the area but also affect the citizens in a positive manner.

9. James Howard Kunstler: The ghastly tragedy of the suburbs


Kunstler is social critic that has no qualms speaking his mind on the state of the urban society. He has no reservations with speaking loudly against the urban sprawl that spreads throughout the country. In this talk, Kunstler discusses and makes rather bold statements claiming that the post-world-war expansion was one of the worst examples of wasted resources. He continues to explain how public spaces should inspire the best in the common good but rather these spaces only promote the worst that our society has to offer.

10. Jeff Speck: The Walkable City


As another vindicator against the urban sprawl, Jeff Speck is an urban planner with a vision. Unlike many of his cohorts, Speck takes a rather proactive approach towards changing how the urban landscape maps out. In this talk, he explains how rather than spread everything out; cities need to plan around the people. They need to limit the amount of urbanites commute by offering the services, housing, and lifestyle they’ve become accustomed to directly at their footsteps.

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