Forum Series

hosted by the Gordy Honors College

The W's Ina E. Gordy Honors College presents the Forum Series each semester, hosting national, regional, and local speakers and offering films and other special presentations. Unless otherwise noted, all events are held in Nissan Auditorium.


Fall 2023

September 7
6 p.m.

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T. Michael Dodson

Instructor of Biology, Mississippi University for Women

Under Erasure: The Troubling Effects of Plant Blindness in Postsecondary Science Education

Many people fail to notice the presence of plants in their everyday lives or think about plants’ importance in the environment and to society, whether due to under-exposure to nature or lack of attention to plant life in their biological education. As a result, people often fail to fully appreciate the role of plants in mitigating climate change and pollution as well as their importance to human research and pharmaceuticals. Professor Dodson will discuss this phenomenon and what scientists, educators, and students can do about it.


September 21
6 p.m.

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in conjunction with The W's Celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month

Dr. Margarita Vargas

Associate Professor Emerita, University of Buffalo

Transforming Traditional Feminine Spaces in El eterno femenino, “La muñeca menor,” and Como agua para chocolate

Dr. Vargas will speak as part of The W’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. Her scholarship has been in contemporary Spanish-American theatre, Mexican film, and feminism. Her talk is supported by a grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council.


October 26
6 p.m.

Renkl Margaret by William DeShazer author photoRenkl Hcvr Final

Margaret Renkl

Author of The Comfort of Crows

In The Comfort of Crows, bestselling author Margaret Renkl presents fifty-two chapters that follow the creatures and plants in her backyard over the course of a year. As she takes us through the seasons, she introduces us to both joy at the ongoing pleasures of the natural world and grief at a shifting climate, as winters end too soon and songbirds grow fewer. The author of Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss (2019) and Graceland, at Last: Notes on Hope and Heartache From the American South (2021), she is a contributing Opinion writer for The New York Times, where her essays appear each Monday.


November 9

Gordy Honors College Undergraduate Research Symposium (Part I)

November 16

Gordy Honors College Undergraduate Research Symposium (Part II)


Previous Events

Spring 2023

February 2
6 p.m.


Alex Bush

Board Member, National Alliance on Mental Health-Mississippi President, Active Minds, University of Mississippi

A Conversation on Mental Health Awareness

in conjunction with The W's Common Read of Alexi Pappas' Bravey, the Counseling Center, Active Minds, and Psychology Club

Originally from Denver, Bush has been a passionate spokesperson for mental health awareness since losing a parent and multiple friends to suicide and learning to live with mental illness herself. She has spoken to more than 10,000 students and other people across the country and contributed to the Emmy-nominated “Teens2Teens Colorado Public Service Announcement” project. Now a student at University of Mississippi, she is President of her campus Active Minds chapter and a board member for National Alliance for Mental Health-Mississippi. A Truman Scholarship finalist, she hopes to complete graduate work in clinical psychology and promote education policy around mental health issues. 


February 16
6 p.m.

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Sadé Meeks, MA, RD

2015 Graduate of The W, Founder of GRITS (Growing Resilience in the South)

Food as Resistance

co-sponsored by the Culinary Arts Institute and Fant Library

A 2015 alum of the Gordy Honors College, Meeks isa writer, food activist, and Registered Dietitian. In 2017, she founded the nonprofit GRITS (Growing Resilience In The South) to improve the health and well-being of communities through increased awareness of nutrition, food history, and culture. GRITS centers storytelling about cultural foodways in nutrition education, and Meeks will screen and discuss her documentaryFood as Resistance. After completing her degree in Culinary Arts at The W, she received her MA in Nutritional Science from California State University, Los Angeles. In addition to speaking to groups across the country, she has authored a food literacy cookbook and her nutrition expertise has been featured by Reader's Digest, MSN, and Yahoo News. 


March 2
6 p.m.


Joyce Chopra, Filmmaker

Screening and Discussion of Her Groundbreaking Film Joyce at 34

Of Joyce Chopra's new memoir Lady DirectorLibrary Journal says, "Award-winning film director Chopra's memoir pulls no punches. . . She candidly describes navigating sexism and abuse in the film industry; her start as a documentarian; her groundbreaking autobiographical short Joyce at 34; winning Best Director at the Sundance Film Festival for her first feature film, Smooth Talk; and her constant battles with Hollywood producers who refused to work with a woman director." Chopra has granted us the rights to screen her groundbreaking Joyce at 34 and will join us virtually afterward to discuss her career. 


April 13
6 p.m.


Nell Peel Wolfe Lecture

Rose Hackman

Journalist and Author of Emotional Labor: The Invisible Work Shaping Our Lives and How to Claim Our Power

Hackman is a British journalist based in Detroit whose work on gender, race, labor, policing, housing, and the environment in The Guardian has brought international attention to overlooked American injustices and policy issues. In Emotional Labor, she explores this often invisible work so essential to our society and economy, sharing the stories of hundreds of women, tracing the history of emotional labor, and offering readers ways to forge new pathways for change. In a starred review, Library Journal says, "This is an inspiring, infuriating study of the toll it takes on people when they’re expected to smile, while taking on more and exhausting responsibilities without getting paid more.”


April 20

Gordy Honors College Undergraduate Research Symposium (Part I)

April 27

Gordy Honors College Undergraduate Research Symposium (Part II)

Fall 2022

August 25
6 p.m.

Beverly Lowry

Author of Deer Creek Drive: A Reckoning of Memory and Murder in the Mississippi Delta

In Conversation with Novelist Deborah Johnson

Lowry was ten and lived mere miles from where society matron Idella Thompson was viciously murdered in 1948. In Deer Creek Drive, she tells a story of white privilege that still has ramifications and reflects on the brutal crime, its aftermath, and the ways it clarified her own upbringing in Mississippi. Lowry is the author of six novels and four other works of nonfiction and her writing has appeared in The New YorkerThe New York TimesVanity FairRolling Stone, and many other publications. She has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Texas Institute of Letters, and the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters. Lowry will read from her work and discuss it with Mississippi novelist Deborah Johnson.


September 15
6 p.m.

Abigail Franks

Programs and Policy Coordinator, Southeast Climate & Energy Network (SCEN)

Building Lessons of Resilience and Practicing Hope in the Face of Climate Change 

A graduate of the Honors College at University of Alabama-Birmingham, Franks is a Udall Scholar and climate policy advocate. While at UAB, she founded WEARE (We Envision Alabamian Renewable Energy), She is now Programs and Policy Coordinator for the Southeast Climate & Energy Network (SCEN), where she works with local communities and drafts climate mitigation and adaptation policies to make the South a sustainable and resilient region.  She is also host of the podcast Climate Justice Y’all. She will discuss her work on climate resilience and lead a discussion about climate anxiety, eco-grief, and all the ways we can work together to face the climate crisis.


October 13
6 p.m.

Dr. Thomas S. Bremer

Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Rhodes College

American Sacred: Religion in the National Parks 

Religion has been a constant and essential presence in U.S. national parks, although usually not obvious or even visible. Dr. Bremer will discuss the roles of religion in the history of national parks and the importance of the parks in the culture of the U.S. A long-time scholar of religion and tourism, he is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Rhodes College and author of Blessed with Tourists: The Borderlands of Religion and Tourism in San Antonio and Formed From This Soil: An Introduction to the Diverse History of Religion in AmericaI.


October 27
7:30 p.m., Rent Auditorium

Steve Yarbrough

Author of Stay Gone Days

Keynote Address, Eudora Welty Writers' Symposium

The Forum Series supports the Welty Writers' Symposium's keynote address by author Steve Yarbrough. The son of Mississippi Delta cotton farmers, Yarbrough is the author of eight novels and three collections of short stories. He is the recipient of the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Fiction, the Richard Wright Award, and the Robert Penn Warren Award, among others, and is a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers.  Of his newest book Stay Gone Days, author Julia Glass says, “Masterful and moving, Stay Gone Days is the story of the diverging yet ultimately intertwined destinies of two sisters . . . . I followed them across continents and decades, through loves and losses, always on the edge of my seat. I finished with tears in my eyes and wonder in my heart.” 


November 10

Gordy Honors College Undergraduate Research Symposium (Part I)


November 17

Gordy Honors College Undergraduate Research Symposium (Part II)