By Julie Rodrick

Dr. Jessica Tomkins’ TED-Ed video has captivated more than 370,000 viewers on YouTube and counting.

In the video, Tomkins, assistant professor of history, explores whether the controversial Pharaoh Ramesses II was a model leader or a master of propaganda in a courtroom drama.

“I’ve always used these short little videos in my classes,” says Tomkins, an Egyptologist who specializes in the Old Kingdom, also known as the Pyramid Age. “Compared with other online sources, TED-Ed tends to produce videos with correct information. So, one day I came across an email address on their website for somebody to get in touch with if you have ideas and decided to submit my own idea.”

Fortunately, the person she reached was someone she knew – a former undergraduate student she had worked with while serving as a teaching assistant in her Ph.D. program at Brown University.

Tomkins explains that the TED-Ed lesson took about three years to complete, from initial email to publication, and that writing the script felt like a “labor of love.” The process involved several months of fact-checking, revisions and animation before the video was finally ready for production.

“That Dr. Tomkins produced this innovative video is no surprise to anyone who knows her,” says Dr. Mark Byrnes, professor and chair of history. “Since she arrived at Wofford in the fall of 2021, Dr. Tomkins has injected new energy into the history department and the campus. Having observed her classes numerous times, I have seen firsthand her deep engagement with her academic field and her ability to make it accessible to students in her classrooms.”

While the project was an independent endeavor, Tomkins praises Wofford’s support for faculty scholarship and research.

“The college accepts public scholarship as part of tenure and recognizes it as scholarship, which isn’t the case everywhere,” she says. “It’s not just books and articles here. Wofford sees public scholarship as scholarship.”

For her next adventure, Tomkins plans to lead students on a trip to Egypt for Interim in January 2025. She hopes to lead a similar trip for alumni, parents and friends of the college in January 2026.

For more information, Tomkins can be reached at