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.


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.

Meeks headshot

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)


Previous Events

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)


Previous Events

Spring 2022

January 20
6 p.m.


Dr. Andrew Nguyen, Assistant Professor of Psychology, MUW

Stealing Thunder: A Damage Mitigation Tactic for When You've Done Something Wrong

Dr. Nguyen's research is in the ares of communication, relationships, and social influence, with a current focus on damage control and attitude assessment.

February 17
6 p.m.

Pruitt Possum Town

Dr. Berkley Hudson

Associate Professor Emeritus, Missouri School of Journalism

O.N. Pruitt's Possum Town

Hudson will discuss the photographs of O.N. Pruitt, a white man in a racially segregated society who recorded community celebrations as well as troubling violence rom 1915 to 1960 in Columbus, Mississippi. Hudson has authored a new book presenting Pruitt’s photographs to accompany a multimedia exhibition of Pruitt's work at the Columbus Arts Council, Mr. Pruitt’s Possum Town: Trouble and Resilience in the American Southrunning February 3-April 23. Pruitt's work is distinguished from others of his time by his diligent and prolific depictions of the joys and sorrows of everyday people—both Black and white—in his hometown of Columbus, locally referred to as “Possum Town.”

April 7
6 p.m.

Nell Peel Wolfe Lecture Series


Dr. Harriet Pollack

Past President, Eudora Welty Society

Black and White: Racial Representation in the Photography of Eudora Welty

Pollack is author of Eudora Welty’s Fiction and Photography: The Body of the Other Woman; editor of the book series Critical Perspectives on Eudora Welty (University Press of Mississippi), including the first book in the series, New Essays on Eudora Welty, Class, and Race; and editor or co-editor of four other volumes, including Eudora Welty and Politics: Did the Writer Crusade? and Emmett Till in Literary Memory and Imagination. 

April 19

Gordy Honors College Undergraduate Research Symposium (Part I)

April 21

Gordy Honors College Undergraduate Research Symposium (Part II)

Fall 2021

August 26
6 p.m.


Study Abroad and Away: MUW's Passport to the World

As we look ahead to a loosening of travel restrictions, Study Abroad Coordinator Erinn Holloway and students who have lived and studied abroad or elsewhere in the U.S. will discuss all the benefits and logistics of study abroad and away.

September 9
6 p.m.

oc poster2

Film: Orchestrating Change

cosponsored by The MUW Counseling Center

and in support of National Suicide Prevention Week

Orchestrating Change tells the story of Me2/Orchestra, created by and for people living with mental illness and working to erase stigmatization through the creation of beautiful music, community, and understanding. The film addresses many of the myths about mental illness by showing what living with a mental illness is really like—with both setbacks and accomplishments—and challenges audiences to reconsider their preconceived notions. For those living with a diagnosis, it is empowering. Discussion of the film will be led by staff of The MUW Counseling Center.

September 23
6 p.m.


Food Justice

Kritika Gupta

cosponsored by The W Leadership Program

Kritika Gupta is a TEDx Speaker, Ph.D. student, and Graduate Assistant in the Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management at the University of Mississippi. In her home country India, she won numerous academic and public service awards and was a regular guest speaker on All India Radio. She is a passionate advocate for food justice and will discuss food insecurity, the right to food, and the current status of the Sustainable Development Goals for ending hunger and achieving food security. The Honors College and The W Leadership Program will also conduct a food drive in conjunction with this event. 

October 7
6 p.m.


a Common Reading Initiative event

A Conversation on Reform in the Criminal Justice System

Scott Colom, District Attorney, 16th District Court of Mississippi

Dorothy Colom, retired Judge, 14th Chancery District of Mississippi

In 2011, Scott Colom was appointed the youngest and first African American justice court judge in Lowndes County history and in 2015 he was elected district attorney for Circuit Court District Sixteen, becoming the first African American DA for the district and the first African American elected DA in a majority white district. His mother Dorothy Colom served as judge for Mississippi’s 14th Chancery District for 24 years, the first African American to serve in that role. Their conversations is in conjunction with our Common Read of Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy, which chronicles his coming of age as he defends the wrongfully convicted and others caught in the farthest reaches of the criminal justice system. The Coloms will draw on their own experiences to connect to Stevenson’s story and suggest some smart ways the criminal justice system can be improved.

November 11

Gordy Honors College Undergraduate Research Symposium (Part I)

November 18

Gordy Honors College Undergraduate Research Symposium (Part II)