Meet our Speakers

Emmett Smith

Emmett Smith is a professor of molecular biology at Earlham College. He loves reading, riding his horse and Moose Tracks ice cream. He has spent the past few years asking himself how he wants to be seen and identified, leading to a surprising self-discovery.

Talk Description: Redefining my Gender

“So often, we ask ourselves where we want to be in 5 years, or what our physical or vocational goals are for the new year. Just as important, but less commonly asked, are the questions: How do we want to be seen? How do we want to be identified? ” Through personal storytelling, Emmett walks through how his life changed when faced with these questions and invites you to reflect on your own gender journey.

Lan Phan

Lan Phan is a senior double majoring in Human Development & Social Relations and Global Management. She spent her last four years grappling with how her identity and personality fit in the culture of social activism at Earlham. As an international student from Hanoi, Vietnam, Lan sought to create spaces that served to bridge differences and challenged systems of informal power.

Talk Description: The Quiet Activists

“I have known and loved Earlham for its relentless fight for social justice among the student body, a significant part of our campus culture. Many of us use our bodies for protests, sit-ins, and walk-outs to make a statement for change, or use our online presence through social media to raise awareness. In my talk, I will bring attention to the other side of this population: the quiet, the reserved, the introverts, who can project their voices but choose to alternatively address injustices without the publicity. They are known as quiet activists, whose passion burns as passionately as any of their other outspoken peers.”


Josh Friedburg

Josh Friedberg is an Earlham alum from the class of 2011 who is returning to campus for his TEDx talk, Redefining Creativity as an Autistic Person. He lives in Chicago, has a master’s degree in English, and has published over 30 articles as a personal essayist and music historian. He has also won multiple awards from a communications contest for his writing.


Talk Description: Redefining Creativity as an Autistic Person


His talk focuses on how creativity as an Autistic person means doing something differently from established norms–and will include the song he wrote at Earlham that changed his life.

Tianxiang Tan

Tianxiang (Derek) is a global management senior from Tangshan, China. He is a Student Organization Co-convener and a Student Ambassador for the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation on campus. His passion is in international business strategy, and he has participated in four business competitions and interned at companies such as Asia Tech Source, Daimler, and Alibaba. He hopes to bring responsible and positive social changes through business innovations. Tianxiang is also very interested in international politics, public affairs, and history, which led him to explore the differences in political systems, cultural misunderstandings, and thus the TEDx talk topic.

Talk Description: The China Model Behind Western Mainstream Narratives

There’s been vague ideas about China’s political system. International controversies about the Chinese society has only been on the rise. In this talk, Tianxiang explains the often unheard key features that make the Chinese society model unique. He will also delve into some reasons for the very different understandings of China. Tianxiang will provide additional information on how the western mainstream narratives play a major role in the misunderstanding.

Emma Milner-Gorvine

Emma Milner-Gorvine is a junior at Earlham College studying Spanish with a double minor in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and Jewish Studies, and an integrated pathway in Education. She is passionate about Judaism, education, and Spanish. Emma enjoys spending time with her friends and binge watching Netflix when she is not drowning in schoolwork or out for an occasional run. She also enjoys cooking for herself and others. Emma’s TEDx talk addresses anti-Semitism in a modern context as it manifests, or doesn’t, on college campuses and in political spaces.

Talk Description: Intersectionality, Anti-Semitism, and Wokeness

Emma’s TEDx talk addresses anti-Semitism in a modern context as it manifests, or doesn’t, on college campuses and in political spaces.

Pat Foreman

Pat as an undergraduate student back in the mid 70’s something was really concerned about climate change. It was an issue she knew was happening, but she projected it would happen far from her lifetime, and given the accelerated change that’s happened 2050 will come with some severe changes.

Talk Description: Employing Local Chickens as Climate Change Activists

Climate change has always been real, and she’s known about it for a very long time. One thing all individuals can do is compost. They can compost their kitchen, garden, and yard waste. The average American throws out 4.4 pounds of trash every day, and with 324 million Americans everyday, 712,000 tons of trash is thrown per day. Out of all the trash, 15% is food waste, 13% is yard waste, 28% of everything that’s thrown out could be composted at home. The missing ingredient is chicken, through their manure allowing compost to happen, as chickens bring nitrogen. The powerful thing about compost is, even though we complain about it, it is doable.


Jus Tavcar

Jus Tavcar is an international sophomore student, currently studying Art History and Marketing at Earlham College. He grew up in the Central European country of Slovenia in a family of artists and art lovers. When he was 16, he moved to northern Italy, where he finished his high school diploma. His hobbies include visiting art galleries and museums,  researching contemporary queer art, organizing events, drinking coffee, eating cookies and shamelessly listening to Michael Bublé’s Christmas songs in August.

Talk Description: Not Just (F)Art

The definition of art, especially modern and contemporary tends to be a controversial topic of discussion. But why? I believe that the “conflict” around the understanding of art stems from education. When growing up in the central European country of Slovenia, in a family of artists and art lovers, I was privileged to have received an insightful art education that today helps me understand and constantly (re)define art from a unique point of view. My siblings, both self-employed artists, and parents, art enthusiasts helped me to look at art as a constantly evolving journey of emotional and physical processes, and not only as an assembly of materials placed in a gallery or museum. In my talk, I will be discussing art’s therapeutic value, the importance of learning about artistic practices, and the role of cultural institutions. Who knows, maybe I even give out a clue on the eternal question of “what is art?”, or better said, “what could art be?”