Student and Instructor Work Together to Bring TEDx to Southeast


TED-logoCAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Jan. 21, 2016 – Southeast is hosting TEDxSoutheastMissouriStateUniversity — an event designed to spark deep discussion on “Diverse Passions” — on Thursday, March 3, in the Aleen Vogel Wehking Alumni Center.

TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. TEDx events are independently organized and licensed by TED.

Junior corporate communication student Collin Ritter of Marble Hill, Missouri, planted the seed for the event when he expressed interest in organizing a TEDx event. He brought the idea to Instructor of Communications Studies Brooke Clubbs. Together, they completed an in-depth application.

“After we submitted the application, we were surprised by how quickly we were contacted personally by TED staff,” Clubbs said. “They wanted some more details, which we provided. This back and forth happened several times before we were officially granted approval.”


Dr. Allen Gathman

At the event, two TED Talk videos will be showcased along with four Southeast professors as speakers, followed by small group discussion. Clubbs said she and Ritter decided on the theme of “Diverse Passions” and wanted to have speakers from various disciplines discuss their passions.

Speakers include Dr. Allen Gathman, professor of biology and dean of online learning, discussing human genetic diversity versus the social constructs of race; Dr. Kenneth Heischmidt, professor in the Department of Management and Marketing and director of the MBA program, discussing how each graduate is one in a million both literally and figuratively; Dr. Debra Lee-Distefano, professor in the Department of Global Cultures and Languages, discussing  the issues with assumptions regarding who is from or belongs where; and Dr. Tamara Zellars Buck, associate professor of mass media, discussing how minorities are portrayed in the media.


Dr. Ken Heischmidt

“We have a lot of smart people who do good things on campus, but sometimes we are so busy in our own little boxes, we forget to look around and realize we are in an amazing place.  I hope TEDx will inspire people to make the most of that,” Clubbs said.

Ritter says he has always been inspired by TED’s storytelling and way of introducing new ideas. He wants to use this event to get other people thinking and inspired in new ways as well.


Dr. Debra Lee-Distefano

“Our topic, ‘Diverse Passions,’ will shed new light on the different passions that people have,” Ritter said. “And who knows, it might even inspire a student to find their path or true calling in life. If this event only changes one person for the better, it’s still a success in my eyes.”

The event also serves as an experiential learning opportunity for Southeast students. Mass media students are providing video services for the event, another student has created graphic designs used in marketing the event, and Southeast’s hospitality management students are preparing appetizers to be served.


Dr. Tamara Zellars Buck

The event is limited to just 100 attendees. Fifty tickets will be available to community members and 50 to students. Community tickets will go on sale Wednesday, Feb. 3. Tickets are being sold only online at and are $25 sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

The student tickets are offered for free thanks to sponsorship from the Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce and Codefi. The lottery for student tickets will be open Feb. 3-10, and students can register online at After verification of Southeast ID numbers, winners will be chosen and contacted by Feb. 12. If selected, students must provide a valid Redhawks ID and pick up their tickets in Academic Hall Room 213 by Feb. 17 or they will forfeit their ticket.

Doors open for the event at 6 p.m. Appetizers will be served before the program begins at 7 p.m.

About TEDx, x = independently organized event

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)

About TED
TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California 30 years ago, TED has grown to support its mission with multiple initiatives. The two annual TED Conferences invite the world’s leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes or less. Many of these talks are then made available, free, at TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Sal Khan and Daniel Kahneman.

The annual TED Conference takes place each spring in Vancouver, British Columbia, along with the TEDActive simulcast event in nearby Whistler. The annual TEDGlobal conference will be held this October in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. TED’s media initiatives include, where new TED Talks are posted daily; the Open Translation Project, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as translations from volunteers worldwide; the educational initiative TED-Ed. TED has established the annual TED Prize, where exceptional individuals with a wish to change the world get help translating their wishes into action; TEDx, which supports individuals or groups in hosting local, self- organized TED-style events around the world, and the TED Fellows program, helping world-changing innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.