Dorothy E. Roberts

Race, Racism, and the New Social Science

Dorothy E. RobertsHumanities Forum and Social Sciences Forum
40th Annual W.E.B. Du Bois Lecture

Dorothy E. Roberts, the 14th Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor, George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology, and Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights, University of Pennsylvania
“Race, Racism, and the New Social Science”
Wednesday, November 14, 6 p.m.
University Center Ballroom

Recent advances in scientific research have included a renewed interest in biological concepts of race and explanations of racial inequality. The science that emerged from sequencing the human genome has been marked by investigations of race-based genetic difference and the redefinition of race as a genomic category. The genomic era has generated collaborations between biological and social scientists that seek to link social outcomes to genetic traits. Even some researchers who study the impact of social inequality on biological outcomes have explained racial disadvantage in biological terms. And the biological and social scientists developing a new racial science avoid the political implications of their research by distinguishing their objectivity and socially beneficial aims from scientific racism of the past. This lecture will critically examine the new racial science and propose a more just way for social and biological scientists to study race and racism.

Dr. Dorothy Roberts is the 14th Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor and George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology at University of Pennsylvania. She has joint appointments in the Departments of Africana Studies and Sociology and the Law School, where she is the inaugural Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights. She is also Founding Director of the Penn Program on Race, Science and Society. An internationally recognized scholar, public intellectual, and social justice advocate, Roberts has written and lectured extensively on the intersection of race and gender in U.S. institutions and has been a leader in transforming thinking on reproductive health, child welfare, and bioethics. She is the author of Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty; Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare; and Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-First Century, and more than 100 articles and book chapters, as well as co-editor of six books. She has served on the boards of directors of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Black Women’s Health Imperative, and National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, and on the advisory boards of the Center for Genetics and Society, Family Defense Center, Generations Ahead, and Still She Rises. Her work has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, National Science Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Harvard Program on Ethics and the Professions, and Stanford Center for the Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity. Recent recognitions of her work include Columbia University’s 2017 Mamie Phipps Clark and Kenneth B. Clark Distinguished Lecture Award, Society of Family Planning 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award, and American Psychiatric Association 2015 Solomon Carter Fuller Award. In 2017, she was elected to the National Academy of Medicine.

Admission is free.

Sponsored by the Africana Studies Department; the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; the Dresher Center for the Humanities; the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Orientation; and the Social Sciences Forum.

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