10 TED Talks Every Social Worker Should See

In these 10 TED talks that every social worker should see, some of the most perplexing questions about human thought and behavior are dissected, and many surprising answers and theories are proposed. From Dan Gilbert, who analyzes the process of a bad decision, to Temple Grandin, who promotes the merits of the autistic mind, these talks will challenge your notions of morality and open your mind to new perspectives.


Becky Blanton: The year I was homeless

Becky Blanton went from the heights of acclaim as an award winning journalist, to the depths of depression as a homeless woman living in her van after the death of her father. What began as a year-long camping trip turned into demoralizing misery for this well-respected journalist as she, her cat and her dog braved insufferable temperatures. Here she shares her journey through grief and sadness to triumph and self-discovery.


David Brooks: The social animal

Journalist David Brooks, who began his career interviewing three politicians a day, regales the crowd with tales of how some politicians socialize with superior skill, yet make policy decisions like anti-social bullies. In this highly amusing talk, he describes what he calls a “revolution in consciousness” and all of the implications for society, economics and senescence therein.


Georgette Mulheir: The tragedy of orphanages

In this sobering talk, child activist Georgette Mulheir discuss the plight of orphanages across Europe and central Asia. She discuss the importance of an actively nurturing, stimulating and benevolent atmosphere for early childhood mental development. She also scientifically details how the brain’s synaptic network is formed during the first three years of life and what a detriment inadequate environments, such as these orphanages, are to young children.


Dan Gilbert: Why we make bad decisions

In this captivating talk, Harvard Psychologist Dan Gilbert discusses the psychology of comparing the present to the past and how that leads to bad decisions.


Temple Grandin: The world needs all kinds of minds

Autistic wunderkind and visual design pioneer Temple Grandin discusses the need for minds like hers when solving real-world problems. She describes how the attention to detail often utilized by autistic spectrum individuals has contributed to many of the greatest inventions in history.


Alanna Shaikh: How I’m preparing to get Alzheimer’s

Health expert and developmental specialist Alanna Shaikh discusses watching her father retreat into the complex degeneration of Alzheimer’s disease, and how she plans to meet the hereditary disease head-on if and when she should fall victim to it. In this touching and inspiring talk, Alanna details why repetitive motor-skills activities and using her hands should ease the burden on her future caretakers.


Elizabeth Pisani: Sex, drugs and HIV — let’s get rational

In an attempt to shift the condemning perspective most individuals have about HIV to one of understanding, public health specialist Elizabeth Pisani discusses how even “stupid” behaviors can be generally rooted in rational thinking.


Ruby Wax: What’s so funny about mental illness?

Comedienne Ruby Wax details her crushing mental breakdown that led to a diagnosis of clinical depression with charm and biting wit. In her brave talk, she points out the injustice of stigmatizing disorders of the brain while sympathizing other bodily diseases.


Peter Saul: Let’s talk about dying

Intensive care doctor Peter Saul works very closely with the aged and dying and would like to encourage everyone to make final plans and not go on as if they intend to live forever. He advances the idea that proper end-of-life planning and discussions can have tremendous impact on the comfort and peace of mind of those we leave behind.


Jeremy Rifkin: “The empathic civilization”

In this enlightening talk, Jeremy Rifkin discusses empathetic development between humans and the discovery of mirror neurons. The recent discoveries in the field indicate a soft-wiring for empathy in primates and possibly other intelligent animals.