Jandel Crutchfield, assistant professor of social work, and doctoral student Emily Frith presented “ideas worth spreading” about creativity and perspective to more than 500 attendees.
Frith is a second-year Ph.D. student in health and kinesiology, with an emphasis in health behavior, from Stanford, Kentucky. Her research focuses on the effects of health behavior on psychological parameters, primarily creativity-related cognitions, and she has published 37 peer-reviewed journal articles from her work.
She invited TEDx participants to consider the effect of exercise on the mind, specifically how it can improve creativity.
“Emily set a high bar for student participation,” said Marvin King, TEDx organizer and associate professor of political science and African American studies. “This is the first year that we had student speakers, and to see Emily’s thoughtful and polished talk come to fruition is really gratifying.”
Frith is a longtime fan of TED and its mission to spread ideas in the form of short, powerful talks. TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and has grown to cover almost all topics, from science to business to global issues.
Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events, such as the UM sessions, help share ideas in communities around the world.
“I am astounded by the ideas shared with the public on such a diverse range of topics, spanning academic disciplines, cultures and pervasive social issues,” Frith said. “It was a dream come true to be selected for such an iconic event and have the opportunity to represent my department and university.”
Frith credits the Department of Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management and the School of Applied Sciences for helping her submit her application and prepare for TEDx.
“I was able to collaborate with experts in the School of Applied Sciences to visually bring my idea to life,” she said. “Integrating my passions into an accessible format for the public was such a cool experience. Faculty and students were willing to listen to me practice, and our department is always striving to reach new heights.
“HESRM and applied sciences are uniquely student-centered and really inspire us to challenge ourselves to reach beyond our ‘limits’ and set the bar high.”
Crutchfield, a licensed social worker, found inspiration for her TEDx topic from workshops she co-hosted to help reunite communities after several highly publicized tragedies that resulted in the deaths of citizens and police officers in the summer of 2016.
“We thought we needed to answer our professional call to the community work of bringing people together to address difficult topics,” Crutchfield said. “My portion of the presentation helped people engage in reflecting on their own personal experiences that shape how they view the world and potentially divisive topics.
“By using the survey ‘what’s your number?’ they were not only able to see how their own experiences shape their standing and view of the world, but also how they compared to others’ views and standing. Understanding that early experiences in life shape how we and others view the world can help us start with acknowledging differences before tackling difficult topics.”
King praised Crutchfield’s focus on creative ways to improve community discourse.
“Jandel’s talk really opened eyes on how to problem-solve difficult and contentious issues,” King said. “Her talk identifies a new path forward to getting people to actually dialogue and not simply talk past each other.”
Like Frith, Crutchfield found colleagues in the School of Applied Sciences to be an integral part of her TEDx process.
“Many of my colleagues and department chair attended the original workshops on which my talk was based, Together Tupelo and Together Oxford,” she said. “The School of Applied Sciences also supported the workshops. Several of my colleagues nominated me for the TEDx competition and attended the event.”
Besides regularly providing community engagement like the workshops that shaped her TEDx, Crutchfield has presented numerous papers for a variety of constituents, including the American Council for School Social Work, the Society for Social Work Research Annual Conference and the Council on Social Work Education, as well as numerous guest lectures at universities nationwide.
“The School of Applied Sciences encourages our faculty and students to think outside of the box when it comes to their research and service endeavors,” said Teresa Carithers, the school’s interim dean. “These outstanding women truly exemplify that kind of creative thinking to approach problems and create healthier, more vibrant communities.”
By Sarah SappHERE!