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Build a Thick Institution

Coach Chris Cutcliffe & Dr. Hunter Taylor | 2021

How did a New York Times article and Research Methods combine to facilitate a State Championship Team in just two years? According to Coach Chris Cutcliffe and Dr. Hunter Taylor, it’s all about building a “thick institution.” In the fall of 2017, Head Coach Cutcliffe and Dr. Taylor, a University of Mississippi Professor, began collaborating on ways to better shape Cutcliffe’s football program into a “thick institution,” a term from a 2017 New York Times article entitled “How to Leave a Mark on People.” The article highlighted how certain organizations “become part of a person’s identity and engage the whole person: head, hands, heart and soul.” Inspired, the two endeavored to turn Oxford Football into an organization that left a mark on its members. Using improvement science methods, they implemented plans to better foster a family culture, develop future leaders, and maximize the program’s on-field potential. After two years of working together, the Football Team captured the 6A State Championship and was named the #1 team in the state by Max Preps.


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Harnessing Meaning in Life

Marcela Weber | 2021

Most people are psychologically resilient, which means when we endure trauma, we remarkably adapt and overcome it. Marcela Weber is a PhD student in Clinical Psychology who studies what helps people be resilient through and after disasters, including the current COVID-19 pandemic. In her research on disasters and mass violence, Weber found that self-efficacy helped people be more resilient and more prepared for future disasters. In a study of tornado survivors, she also found meaning and purpose in life bolstered resilience and disaster preparedness. Her team’s recent research on resilience during the current pandemic has shown that collective efficacy more than self-efficacy, or confidence in our community more than in ourselves, could build our resilience and improve our collective efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Weber has published eight articles and book chapters on psychological resilience in the context of traumatic events and was recently awarded a grant from the Natural Hazards Center to study resilience during the coronavirus pandemic among international students.


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The African American Church House

Dr. Christopher S. Hunter | 2021

To know a movement you need to understand it’s history. According to Dr. Christopher S. Hunter, much attention has been given to the people and events of the Civil Rights movement, but little research exists on the actual buildings that housed the events and hosted the people. In his talk, Hunter explores the importance of the African American Church building, which represents (arguably) the first example of constructed material culture by and for African Americans in the United States. These early church buildings embody the concept of black space (or safe space) for African Americans and have survived many tumultuous events in American history by being resilient and resistant—qualities shared by the church congregants and their descendants. Christopher S. Hunter, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Architecture at Mississippi State University. His academic research focus is the study of the socio-cultural influences on the design and construction of early African American church buildings. He hopes to broaden the study and teaching of the intersection of architectural history with African American history.


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Economic Development and Tropical Fish

Jon Maynard | 2021

Do local economic developers have the necessary skills and ability to adapt to a new way of doing business? The pandemic of 2020 will be a story in history books far into the future. Historians will analyze not only how we acted during the pandemic, but how we recovered from its far reaching effects. The global economy is showing signs of struggle and countries all around the world are working find ways to recover. Locally, it is the job of the economic developer to guide his or her community out of the difficulties the pandemic placed on their local economy. Jon Maynard is an economic developer in Oxford, Mississippi. His work has lead him to some striking revelations about Mississippi’s economy, as well as innovative ideas on how to navigate out of the problems that he discovered. His thoughts about making a change for the better could not come at a more opportune time.


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Road to Wellbeingville

David Magee | 2021

What happens when you set out to fix someone else only to realize you are the one who needs fixing? That is what David Magee explores in his talk. He was concerned his oldest child, William, had a growing alcohol and drug problem. He planned to counsel William over a three day, cross-country journey, extolling the virtues of good living. But on the journey, amplified by daunting elements, David had to face his own addiction. The lessons he shared with his son became an action plan to change his own life. The Director of Institute Advancement at the University of Mississippi and a non-fiction author, David helped create The William Magee Center for AOD and Wellness Education at the University of Mississippi, named after his late son. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx.


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Resilience to Hunger

Kritika Gupta | 2021

The world has been trying to address hunger for several decades – but are we addressing it in the right way? In 2020, when the pandemic hit the world, did it bring hunger and food insecurity with it, or did the pandemic just re-emphasize an already existing problem? In this talk, Kritika Gupta highlights the lesser addressed aspects of food insecurity and proposes that the Right to Food needs to be binding by law. Gupta is a Ph.D student in Nutrition at the University of Mississippi. Gupta’s broad areas of research address nutrition policy, food insecurity, and child nutrition. Growing up in Punjab, also known as the breadbasket of India, majorly shaped her research interests. Her research project aims to understand the resilience capacity of school food environments in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.



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You Are Not Your Worst Day : Diverse Resilience

Elijah Mudryk | 2021

Have you ever had an uncomfortable experience with cultures other than your own? Elijah Mudryk believes encountering the uncomfortable can help us become more resilient. By drawing from his experiences in intercultural psychology as a young Black academic, Elijah challenges the idea that our most difficult times highlight our worst qualities. Instead, he encourages us to recognize the surprising traits we have displayed during challenging moments and offers insights on how to make these traits more central to who we are. Elijah Mudryk is a Ph.D. student in Clinical Psychology at the University of Mississippi whose research focuses on intercultural contact and the psychological nuances of religion. His previous findings on cultural integration have advised the federal leaders of a racial reconciliation program in British Columbia, Canada.


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An Instructor’s Guide to the Veteran Student

Michael Wade | 2021

Everyday veterans return home from service. Regardless of their length of service, branch, rank, or combat experience, many will return to the classroom, seeking education. Because only 7% of Americans are classified as veterans and less than 1% are currently serving in uniform, the culture, perspectives, and talents of this group of people are often misunderstood, misrepresented, or altogether missed. Michael Wade’s talk provides insight regarding the needs of veteran students. Wade is a veteran of the U.S. Army. He served three combat tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, as well as three tours in Europe supporting NATO operations. As a Noncommissioned Officer and Army Instructor, he has trained, mentored, and developed thousands of Soldiers. In 2018 he began his final duty assignment at the University of Mississippi as a Military Science Instructor. Wade is Army Instructor certified and holds a master’s degree in Higher Education from the University of Louisville.