Around Campus

THINKposium offers inspiration on work, positive interactions

Carolina professor Barbara Fredrickson was the featured speaker at the sixth annual THINKposium. The event examined what Carolina is doing and can do to create a sense of belonging for everyone.

Keynote Speaker Barbara L. Fredrickson speaks at THINKposium.
Keynote Speaker Barbara L. Fredrickson presents on The Positive Emotion of Social Connections. The annual THINKposium is a meeting of interested participants on a particular issue or topic, engaged speakers providing data and context, a free exchange of ideas, and fuel for creative problem solving. August 27, 2018. (Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Temporary positive interactions with others benefit one’s health and build trust and a sense of belonging between people, Carolina professor Barbara Fredrickson told the nearly 350 people who attended this year’s THINKposium.

The sixth annual symposium, held at the Friday Center on Aug. 27, was titled THINKposium 2018: Belonging … What a Feeling. The daylong event was filled with inspiration and encouragement as participants examined what they are doing and can do to create a sense of belonging for everyone at Carolina.

Fredrickson, the day’s keynote speaker and the Kenan Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, outlined her research on building purposeful positive connections and belonging through social connections. “We grow and become better versions of ourselves through unlocking this other-focused thinking,” she said.

“Positive interactions over time build trust and a sense of belonging. The moments are forever renewable for us. They rise like a wave and dissipate,” she said. “It is not possible to be happy all the time, but temporary positive emotions add up and broaden our awareness.”

Rumay Alexander, associate vice chancellor and chief diversity officer, described the day as a “time to think together, be together, share and give serious thought to being a part of something bigger than us, yet impactful because of all of us.”

After participants discussed their work and contributions to Carolina, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Bob Blouin talked about shared governance and how important it is that each person’s work translate the vision of The Blueprint for Next, the University’s strategic framework, into action.

“When you are asked to help us transform the way Carolina works, I hope you will respond to the call, roll up your sleeves and help us be successful however you can. If we don’t do this well, we won’t be successful,” Blouin said.

He added that the part of The Blueprint for Next that excites him the most is the commitment “to operating effectively, sustainably, ethically, transparently, nimbly, with technological sophistication, at the pace of change.” Doing so will keep Carolina competitive, he said. The work to be a world-class university is “top-down, down-top and side-to-side.”

He also said that pausing from ambitions to do simple things well, to build trust and confidence, is important to realizing the dreams embedded in The Blueprint for Next.

Similarly, Alexander encouraged participants to make sure their actions align with The Blueprint for Next. She asked participants to think of a time when they either felt included or didn’t. Alexander said that everyone at Carolina is valuable and that “you are all chief experience officers who create a sense of belonging to something larger and greater.”

That point was proven emphatically when representatives from nearly 20 campus units stood to describe dozens of programs that build community and belongingness at the University, throughout North Carolina and globally.