To initiate meaningful reform, leaders must be willing to fundamentally change their approach to solving a problem, experts said this weekend.

About 100 people attended the second annual TEDxDuke event held Saturday on East Campus. Twelve speakers, including four students, from a variety of disciplines offered insights related to the theme “Losing Your Way.”

Jimmy Soni, Trinity ’07, managing editor at the Huffington Post and a former columnist for The Chronicle, returned to campus to argue for more innovative methods of understanding history.

“How do you make history human again? How do you make it real for people in their daily lives?” Soni said. “Start simple. How do you know your own history? Talk to your grandparents. ”

TEDx is an offshoot of TED—Technology, Entertainment and Design—a program, which sponsors video lectures and performances to spread ideas and generate discussion. The independently organized TEDx events are designed on this model but instead draw from local experts, at universities or elsewhere.

Junior Lekha Ragavendran, who coordinated the event, said the broadness of the “Losing Your Way” theme of TEDxDuke allowed speakers to relate their stories effectively.

“Some people talked about losing your way as a good thing and relaxing and stepping back,” Ragavendran said. “Some people talked more about losing your way and finding it again, through technology or investigating computer science or through different means.”

The TEDxDuke organizing committee selected speakers from throughout the Triangle area based on nominations from members of the Duke community.

David Needham, professor of mechanical engineering and associate professor of biomedical engineering, noted that professors believe students retain 20 percent of what they learn in class, but students believe they retain only 10 percent of what they learn.

Needham’s presentation focused on ways to encourage students of all disciplines to conduct more individual, proactive research about a subject in a way that would be impossible in a classroom. Using his hands-on approach, Needham’s students have reverse-engineered everything from diesel engines to pharmaceutical drug delivery methods to the causes of World War I.

“It’s a challenge to take a fairly large, robust subject that you’ve been dealing with for the last 10 years and condense it down to something where you can get a message across in 12 minutes,” he said.

Tony Brown, professor of the practice in the Sanford School of Public Policy and co-director of the Hart Leadership Program, and Patty Kennedy, CEO of Kennedy Spencer—a values-based marketing and communications company— were two other notable speakers leading discussions, among others.

Sophomore Jacob Tobia, speaking from his experience with Occupy Duke, noted that despite common misconceptions, on-campus protests can successfully make changes.

“Duke students don’t understand Duke’s history and that Duke, at its heart, is an activist campus,” Tobia said. “I don’t have all the answers, but what I do know is that [to find them] it won’t take just 1 percent, it won’t take just 99 percent—it will take 100 percent of the Duke community.”