Cross-disciplinary paths to racial justice focus of Vanderbilt conference

Experts from a variety of disciplines and professions—including divinity, education, law, medicine and nursing—will come together at Vanderbilt University on Friday, Nov. 10, to collaborate strategically toward achieving racial justice.

The daylong conference, “Cultivating the Scholar-Activist: Trans-disciplinary Pathways to Racial Justice,” is open to the community

The conference invites participants to critically consider their relationships with racism and to work together across disciplines to strategize and explore collaborative efforts that move us all toward racial justice.

Nashville Juvenile Court Judge Sheila Calloway will join three Vanderbilt administrators—Associate Dean of Students Frank Dobson, Vice Provost for Inclusive Excellence Melissa Thomas-Hunt and Divinity School Dean Emilie Townes—for the opening panel at 9:15 a.m. in Sarratt Cinema. The conference will also feature breakout sessions across campus.

Other conference speakers include Sandra Barnes, professor of human and organizational development at Peabody College of education and human development; André Churchwell, senior associate dean for diversity affairs and professor of medicine, radiology and radiological sciences, and biomedical engineering at the School of Medicine; Terry Maroney, professor of law and co-director of the George Barrett Social Justice Program at the Law School; and Rolanda Johnson, assistant dean for academics and associate professor of nursing at the School of Nursing. For a complete list of speakers, click here.

The conference is especially geared for prospective and current graduate and professional students, along with others who are interested in deepening their reflection and practice around racial justice.

Among the sessions are “Lawyering to Preserve Racial Memory and Advance Racial Justice,” “The Power of the Personal Story: Communicating Why Racial Justice Matters,” and “Intersections of Race, Class and Religion in the Era of Trump.” Alumnus Andrew Maraniss, author of Strong Inside: Perry Wallace and the Collision of Race and Sports in the South; will lead a session at the Divinity School on “Writing for Justice.”

The conference’s conceptual framework derives from Vocations in Racial Justice: Trans-disciplinary Activist/Practitioner/Scholar (TAPS), which was awarded a TIPs grant. The program is developing a learning intervention for Vanderbilt undergraduates that prepares them to center racial justice in their personal and professional lives. This initiative draws upon intellectual resources across many of the schools and vocational offices within Vanderbilt to develop such an intervention.

The late Dale P. Andrews, a Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor and a Distinguished Professor of Homiletics, Social Justice, and Practical Theology, was the visionary behind and founder of TAPS. The primary investigators are Dobson, who leads the Social Justice and Identity area within the Dean of Students office, and Gretchen Person, associate university chaplain. Casey Miller and Carlin Rushing serve as program coordinator fellows. Miller and Rushing both earned a master of divinity from Vanderbilt. The TAPS program also employs two undergraduate research assistants, Robyn Du and Malik Hollingsworth.

Other co-sponsors of the pathways conference are: the Office of Religious Life and the University Chaplain; the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion; The Martha Rivers Ingram Commons: Peabody College and the Divinity, Law, Medicine and Nursing schools.

The cost of the conference is $20 for the public and free for students. Advance registration is encouraged. For more information, email Katherine H. Smith.