Emotions can improve understanding

Image of Suthakaran Veerasamy.Suthakaran Veerasamy, UWL assistant professor of psychology, is one of the presenters at the TEDxUWLaCrosse event Feb. 8.

Speaker shares insight during TEDx event Feb. 8

Critical thinking has its limits.

Critical feeling — now that is new, uncharted ground to start important conversations.

Suthakaran Veerasamy, UWL assistant professor of psychology, plans to start that kind of conversation and get people “critically feeling” during UWL’s TEDxUWLa Crosse event from 4-6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 8, in the Bluffs Room, UWL Student Union. See ticket information below.

Large "X" with images depicting a chain reaction. At the bottom it reads, "Chain Reaction"The event includes presentations from five speakers, watching TED Talks videos and a locally-produced video interview with an “old lady activist.” All speakers will share novel ideas that aim to spark deep discussion and connection around ideas related to “Chain Reaction.” Topics range from how to talk politics and keep friends, to how to improve children’s literacy.

Speakers include:

  • Sue Hessel, writer and personal historian
  • Dany Bicoy, UWL student, musician and poet
  • Tim Dale, UWL associate professor, Political Science & Public Administration
  • Suthakaran Veerasamy, UWL assistant professor, Psychology
  • Tom Volk, UWL professor, Biology
  • Dawn Wacek, youth services manager, La Crosse Public Library

Veerasamy will use an analogy to help people develop more empathy for others and gain a deeper understanding of the human condition.

“There is a tendency to remove emotion from discussions about issues — particularly social justice issues. It’s seen as an impediment to seeking truth,” he explains. “But emotion will actually get us closer to appreciating other ways people perceive reality.”

About TEDx

Many are familiar with TED Talks, an award-winning video site that is a branch of the TED non-profit organization. The organization is devoted to “ideas worth spreading,” and, in that spirt, it created TEDx, a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. In 2013, UWL started organizing independently-coordinated TEDx events featuring local speakers on a range of topics.

More on the speakers

June Kjome, retired nurse and self-described “old lady activist” and Sue Hessel, writer and personal historian. After graduating from college, Kjome worked in apartheid-era South Africa as a nurse. This experience inspired her to become a social justice advocate in Wisconsin, a journey that continues at age 97. Hessel has shared Kjome’s story as part of two books they have co-written. Hessel will share what she feels we can learn from Kjome’s life and actions.

Dawn Wacek, youth services manager, La Crosse Public Library and literacy advocate. Wacek supports the total elimination of library fines as a way to increase literacy, enhance information access and address the achievement gap, particularly in low-income communities.

Dany Bicoy, UWL student, spoken word artist, musician and social justice advocate. Bicoy will share a story about racial and ethnic identity, the seemingly small changes people of color often undergo to be successful and the compounding effects of those changes, including the loss of native languages and dialects over generations.

Timothy Dale, UWL professor of political science. Dale will provide tips on how to frame political discussions to keep friends, create meaningful exchanges and, ultimately, preserve democracy.

Tom Volk, UWL professor of biology, mycologist, and cancer survivor. Volk will share his battle with cancer, unexpected effects of treatment and his eventual need for a heart transplant. He speaks about health challenges, help he has received and the importance of organ donation.

Learn more about the TEDx program. 
This independent TEDx event is operated under license from TED.

If you go —

What: Live TEDxUWLaCrosse event
When: 4-6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 8
Where: Bluffs Room, UWL Student Union
Tickets: Tickets are on sale now at the UWL Student Union or online at www.uwlax.edu/TedxUWL. $5 for students and $10 for general public. Also, pre-order, specially designed event T-shirts, hand-printed by local artist Shoua Yang, are also available for $10 when purchasing tickets.